Above: Paddlers on the Chattahoochee River; courtesy of TGA Communications, LLC
A good place to “get your feet wet” is the Chattahoochee Nature Center (CNC). The center offers several ways to dip in your toes.
River Canoe Trips are led by guides who are naturalists and experienced paddlers. Cost is $30 per person; all equipment is provided.
Family Canoe Days is specially designed for first time paddlers. The 1½-hour class covers boat basics and paddling practice on one of the CNC’s ponds. Cost is $15 per person; all equipment is provided.
Private Canoe Excursions can also be arranged for large or small groups. Contact the scheduling office at 770-992-2055, x. 237 for more info.
CNC is located at 9135 Willeo Rd., Roswell 30075. Visit online to find out about more canoe programs and register for trips or classes.
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Center
Part of the National Park Service, the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area covers 48 miles and is available for kayaking, canoeing and other small boat use year-round. It begins downstream from Buford Dam at Lake Lanier and ends at Peachtree Creek in metro Atlanta. Visit www.nps.gov/chat for more info.
While the recreation area doesn’t rent boats, it does recommend some authorized outfitters that rent kayaks, canoes and other watercraft for day use on the river.
- High Country Outfitters rents kayaks and canoes, as well as gear for camping and rock climbing. Their Buckhead store is at 3906 Roswell Rd., Atlanta 303042. Other locations include East Cobb, Midtown and Sandy Springs.
- Nantahala Outdoor Center offers full- and half-day rentals on canoes, kayaks and other watercraft. They have Upper and Lower Chattahoochee locations: Johnson Ferry, 4851 Columns Dr., Marietta 30067 and Cochran Shoals-Powers Island, 5450 Interstate North Parkway, Sandy Springs 30328. Visit the website and click on “Plan Your Trip”, then Chattahoochee River Outpost.
- Shoot the Hooch rent canoes and kayaks and offers paddling instruction. Guided canoe, kayak and fishing tours are available, too. Shoot the Hooch is Located on the Chattahoochee River at Azalea Park, 203 Azalea Dr., Roswell. There are three other locations: Don White Memorial Park in Roswell, Island Ford in Atlanta and Garrard Landing in Alpharetta.
There are over 35 of Georgia State Parks that offer paddling opportunities—whether in mountain lakes, on whitewater rapids or along the Atlantic Ocean coast. More than 20 of them rent kayaks, canoes or boats during the season.
Here are some paddler-friendly Georgia State Parks that are located within about a 2½-hour drive of Atlanta. Access details on individual parks through the website.
- H. Stephens State Park in Crawfordville
- Chattahoochee Bend State Park in Newnan
- Don Carter State Park in Gainesville
- Elijah Clark State Park in Lincolnton
- F. D. Roosevelt State Park in Pine Mountain
- Florence Marina State Park in Omaha
- Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth
- Fort Yargo State Park in Winder
- General Coffee State Park in Nicholls
- Hard Labor Creek State Park in Rutledge
- High Falls State Park in Jackson
- Indian Springs State Park in Flovilla
- James H. (Sloppy) Floyd State Park in Summerville
- Mistletoe State Park in Appling
- Moccasin Creek State Park in Clarkesville
- Panola Mountain State Park in Stockbridge
- Red Top Mountain State Park in Acworth
- Richard B. Russell State Park in Elberton
- Sweetwater Creek State Park in Lithia Springs
- Tallulah Gorge State Park in Tallulah Falls
- Tugaloo State Park in Lavnoia
- Unicoi State Park & Lodge in Helen
- Vogel State Park in Blairsville
- Watson Mill Bridge State Park in Comer