Paddle Georgia 2022


Everything you need to know to participate in 

Paddle Georgia 2022 on the

Chattahoochee River June 19-25 

About The Trip

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 healthcare crisis, Paddle Georgia 2022 again will be a small-group trip limited to about 30 participants.  This seven-day, all-on-river camping adventure covers more than 100 miles of the Chattahoochee River as it courses through the metro Atlanta area from Settles Bridge Park in Gwinnett County to the city of Franklin in Heard County. The course is mostly flatwater with numerous Class I shoals, with some obstacles approaching Class II in difficulty.  Along our route we’ll experience the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area with it soaring bluffs and exciting shoals as well as the river’s more industrial corridor southwest of Atlanta, paddling past numerous local and state parks, including historic Moore’s Bridge Park and McIntosh Reserve in Carroll County, Chattahoochee Bend State Park in Coweta County and Bushhead Shoals Park in Heard County. It is an adventure on what is considered Georgia’s most utilized and most important river, and along the way, you’ll learn how this river serves Georgia’s 10 million people and what’s being done to protect and preserve the river corridor, with special emphasis on the Chattahoochee RiverLands initiative, an effort to create a linear park along the river from Buford Dam to Coweta County.  Each afternoon, we will paddle up to our campsite. That’s right–no shuttle rides on buses each afternoon and each morning. Each campsite will be on the river or a river tributary. This will be a true canoe/kayak camping adventure!

Registration Fees:  REGISTRATION FOR THE FULL 7-DAY PADDLE GEORGIA ADVENTURE IS CURRENTLY SOLD OUT…BUT CHECK OUT THE PADDLE GEORGIA LITE OPTIONS BELOW! Adults–$610, Youth 17 and Under–$410. Registration opens to the public, Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 8 a.m. Please note, once registration opens to the public, we expect only a few spaces to be available as previous participants and other supporters will have the opportunity to pre-register. Registration fees include all meals, shuttle service and other amenities. Registration opens to the public February 16 at 8 a.m. 

Paddle Georgia Lite Options June 19 and June 25

Two day trips for up to 30 paddlers will be offered on Sunday, June 19, and Saturday,  June 25. Registration fees are $70 for adults and $35 for youth 17 and under.  Shuttle and guide service will be provided along with river maps and Paddle Georgia 2022 decals. 

Sunday,  June 19: Settles Bridge to Jones Bridge. Join us for the first day of our Paddle Georgia journey on this 15-mile run through the tailwater section of the Chattahoochee below Buford Dam where the water is trout-chilling cold and the scenery is beautiful as the river winds between sections of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. The trip is mostly flatwater with occasional Class I shoals. 

Saturday, June 25: Chattahoochee Bend State Park to Franklin. Join us for the last day of our seven-day Paddle Georgia journey on this scenic 15-mile trip through Coweta and Heard counties. Visit beautiful waterfalls on tributary streams and thrill to some of the Chattahoochee’s biggest whitewater downstream of Atlanta (Class I Bushhead Shoals and Daniel Shoals). 


Canoe-a-thon: To participate in the seven-day Paddle Georgia adventure, paddlers are asked to raise at least $1000 through the Paddle Georgia 2022 Canoe-a-thon. The donations generated through this fundraiser support Georgia River Network’s efforts to protect our rivers and develop Georgia’s water trail system. So, if you register, be prepared to raise some money! We need your help to continue GRN’s important work that is funded by the 300-400 people who traditionally participate in Paddle Georgia during non-pandemic years! CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CANOE-A-THON AND SET UP YOUR FUNDRAISING PAGE

American Canoe Association Liability Waivers

Very important! You must sign your American Canoe Association liability waiver in order to participate in this adventure. Please click on the link below, fill out the online form and submit it. Once you’ve done that you will receive an e-mail. You must respond to that e-mail to complete the waiver submission!


COVID-19 Considerations

Please review the following and be prepared to help us minimize the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus during our journey. If you are unwilling to abide by these regulations, please consider staying at home. Full refunds will be provided for those cancelling. 

Before and During Your Travel To and From Event

If you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, please stay home.

If you are an older adult or you have a serious underlying medical condition, please consider staying at home.

Before embarking on a trip, please consider being tested for COVID-19 to ensure that you are not carrying the virus.

During travel to and from the event, minimize your contact with other people and always wear a face covering when social-distancing guidelines can not be followed.

During Event

Wear a facemask during periods where you may be in close proximity to other participants (launch/take out sites/campsite areas/restrooms, etc.);

Do not share equipment, food, water and other supplies

Maintain social distancing of 6 feet at all times;

Maintain strict hygiene by washing hands frequently; do not touch eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Limit use of indoor areas and wear face covering when using indoor facilities.

In the buffet line at meals, maintain social distancing, wear face coverings and allow servers to serve your plate.

Text Message Alert System

To receive text message alerts from Georgia River Network staff regarding this event please text GARIVERS to 84483 on your cell phone. This system will be used to communicate important information to participants in a timely manner in the event of an emergency or other situation in which information needs to be sent to all participants as quickly as possible.


This will be an all-on-river adventure with camping along the river each night. Most campsites will have flush toilets, shower facilities and shelters.
June 18: Putney Island. Paddle Georgia participant and former Georgia River Network board member, Bonny Putney will host us at her lakeside compound known as Putney Island, an outdoor space that features an eclectic blend of river-themed art and artifacts that is something to behold! Tent camping only.
June 19: Gwinnett County’s Simpsonwood Park. This beautiful spot, a former United Methodist Church retreat center, sits about 1.5 miles from Jones Bridge Park and features restrooms, a large meadow for camping, and a large covered pavilion for meals and programs.  An outdoor camp shower with hot water will complete the amenities.  Tent camping only. 
June 20: Chattahoochee Nature Center. We’ll camp amongst the beautiful gardens of this well-known environmental education center with birds of prey and beavers as our companions. We will enjoy an air-conditioned dining area and restrooms and special programs provided by the CNC staff. An outdoor camp shower with hot water will complete the amenities. Tent camping only. Campsite is located 0.25-mile from take out location. Participants will walk along boardwalk to campsite within Nature Center property where camp gear will be waiting!
June 21: Riverview Landing. This City of Smyrna park is adjacent to a recently completed mix-use development with retail shops, restaurants and private residences. The site will feature restrooms, an outdoor camp shower with hot water and a great dock overlooking the river. Tent camping only. Campsite is located next to the river.
June 22: Campbellton Masonic Lodge.   One of our most unique campsites for the week, we’ll spend the night on the grounds of this Mason Lodge built prior to the Civil War. Amenities include a screened pavilion where we’ll enjoy dinner and breakfast, port-a-toilets and outdoor camp shower with hot water. Tent camping only. The campsite is located 0.3 mile from the boat ramp. GRN will provide a shuttle from the boat ramp to the campsite or participants can choose to walk.
June 23: Chattahoochee Hills.  On this special night, we will camp on private property owned by one of our long-time Paddle Georgia sponsors, Mark Hennessy that features a beautiful pavilion with restoom and shower overlooking a scenic farm pond. Tent camping only. Participants will be shuttled via a 7-minute off-road vehicle ride from the river to the campsite upon arrival and returned via off-road vehiciles the following morning.
June 24: Chattahoochee Bend State Park.  This state park features a special tent platform camping area overlooking the river. From this camping area, it is a short 100-200 yard walk to restrooms and showers and the pavilion area where we will hold meals and programs. Please note, these are platform tent sites and not suitable for tents that must be staked to the ground. Free-standing tents are recommended. Rental cabins are available through the park, but are located 1 mile from camping area. GRN can provide shuttles to the cabins as time allows. Make cabin reservations directly with park.

Paddle Routes

Jan. 19: Settles Bridge Park to Jones Bridge Park–This 15-mile route takes in the chilly, trout-filled tailwaters below Buford Dam and features Native American fish weirs, riverside country clubs, historic bridges and multiple riverside parks.

June 20: Jones Bridge Park to Chattahoochee Nature Center–This 13-mile route starts with an exciting run through Jones Bridge Shoals and ends on Bull Sluice Lake as the river slows behind Morgan Falls Dam. Along the way, you’ll pass numerous historic sites and multiple riverfront parks, showing off how the river serves as a recreational amenity for local residents…and visitors like us!

June 21: Chattahoochee Nature Center to Riverview Landing–This 18-mile jaunt starts with a lake paddle and short portage around Morgan Falls Dam and then continues downstream through what is arguably the most scenic stretch of the entire river. The bluffs at Palisades, within Atlanta’s perimeter highway, soar above the river while on the water we’ll find some of metro Atlanta’s most challenging shoals. Beyond the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, we’ll navigate a near Class II rapid at the city of Atlanta’s drinking water intake, pass by the region’s largest wastewater treatment plants and emerge at Riverview Landing, a City of Smyrna park that is leading the renaissance of the Chattahoochee downstream from metro Atlanta’s sewage treatment facilities.

June 22: Riverview Landing to Campbellton–This 15-mile route takes in the river’s “industrial park,” where despite the wastewater treatment plant discharges and adjacent industrial corridors, the river still exhibits a wild feel and beautiful scenery. Highlights include historic Buzzard Roost Island and vistas of rollercoasters and screaming patrons at Six Flags Over Georgia.

June 23: Campbellton to Chattahoochee Hills–During this 15-mile paddle, the river reclaims a rural feel as it descends into Douglas County and the Chattahoochee Hills area of South Fulton County. Flatwater and easy paddling rule the day with off-river excursions possible up Dog River (to see Douglas County’s Dog River water supply dam, and Bear Creek to check out shoals on this small tributary).

June 24: Chattahoochee Hills to Chattahoochee Bend State Park–On this 17-mile run, small shoals become more frequent as the river courses past historic Moore’s Bridge Park, once the site of an antebellum covered bridge over the river and McIntosh Reserve, home of Creek Indian Chief William McIntosh. The trip ends at Chattahoochee Bend State Park, one of the state’s newest state parks and a critical hub in the effort to create a linear park along the river stretching upstream and downstream of Atlanta.

June 25: Chattahoochee Bend State Park to Franklin–The final 15 miles of the journey are among the best! Beautiful waterfalls on tributaries like Hilly Mill and Red Bone creeks provide great off-river excursions while Bushhead Island Shoals and Daniel Shoals provide the most challenging whitewater downstream from Atlanta. The trip ends at the City of Franklin where we’ll enjoy a traditional fish fry feast on the banks of the river.

Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Workshop

Georgia Adopt-A-Stream instructors will offer chemical water quality monitoring workshops during this event. During the training, students learn chemical water monitoring protocols and collect and test samples for water quality. Following the training, participants can complete the Adopt-A-Stream certification process. By participating in this training, you’ll have the opportunity to assist in Georgia Adopt-A-Stream’s assessment of the health of the waterways we will paddle. When you return home, you’ll have a greater understanding of rivers and streams, and you’ll be certified to conduct routine water quality monitoring on a local waterway. You can sign up to participate during online registration or when you arrive at the event! Click here to learn more about Georgia’s Adopt-A-Stream program.



Check-In Times:        

Saturday, June 18: 1-6 p.m. 

All participants must check in at . Upon check-in, you will receive your event packet that includes items like your T-shirt, other swag and your on-river maps and descriptions.

Note: Putney Island has limited parking space. Once you arrive at the compound, it may be difficult to leave due the nature in which we will need to park vehicles. We encourage you to have everything you need for the night with you before you arrive. 

Directions to On-Site Registration: Putney Island is located at 6432 Garrett Road, Buford, GA 30518 on the shore Lake Lanier just east of Buford Dam. GPS Coordinates: 34.152763, -84.044579 From Exit 8 on I-985 (Friendship Road), travel west on Friendship Road 1.5 mile. Turn left on McEver Road and proceed 0.6 mile. Turn right on Green Road and proceed 0.1 mile. Turn left on Waterworks Road and proceed 0.6 mile. Turn right on Buford Dam Road and proceed 4.5 miles. Turn right on Garrett Road and proceed 0.2 to grave drive on left. Turn left and proceed to Putney Island. 

Long Term Event Parking: On Sunday, June 19, we will drive our vehicles and vessels to Settles Bridge Park, drop our vessels and on-river gear and then proceed to a nearby and secure parking area where vehicles will be left for the week. A shuttle will return you from our parking area to Settles Bridge Park to begin the journey. 



Our caterers for the week are John Howington and Joshua Swaney, developers of Dry Your Eyes hot sauces, and perhaps best known as on-site caterers for the Netflix hit series, Ozark!  Your registrations fees include catered breakfasts and dinners and sack lunches each day of the trip. This includes seven dinners, seven lunches and seven breakfasts. Our event will conclude with a homemade ice cream party at our final destination in Franklin! 

Pending the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, we may or may not provide a dishwashing station for reusable dishes and utensils. More information on this subject as the event approaches.  You will always have the choice of using disposable plates and utensils.

Lunches: Sack lunches come with your choice of sandwiches which vary daily–everything from Cubano grilled wraps to curried chickpeas and vegetable wraps! PBJs and pimento cheese will also be among the daily mix! You will pick up your sack lunch AT THE CAMPSITE following breakfast each morning. Make sure you bring a waterproof bag to keep your lunch dry on the river. Lunches include chips, fruit and dessert.

Breakfasts: Breakfast will be served daily beginning at 6:30 a.m. and will be hearty, hot affairs (eggs, grits, sausage) with alternatives for vegans and vegetarians.

Dinners: Dinners will be served daily beginning at 6:30 p.m. Like breakfasts, we’ll offer up hearty, hot food with alternatives for vegans and vegetarians.


June 18 Dinner: Barbecue Chicken, cole slaw, macaroni and cheese, green beans, Texas toast, house pickles, dessert TBD (Vegetarian Option:  vegan barbecue: soy protein and mushroom), tea, lemonade.

June 19 Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, grits, bacon, bagels, English muffins, butter, jam, assorted cereals and oatmeals, yogurt, fruit cocktail, milk,  almond milk, juice, coffee

June 19 Dinner: Meat loaf, house salad, mashed potatoes and gravy, steamed broccoli, chocolate cake, tea, lemonade  (Vegetarian Option:  vegan loaf), tea, lemonade

June 20 Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, hashbrown casserole, sausage links, bagels, English muffins, butter, jam, assorted cereals and oatmeals,  yogurt, fruit cocktail, milk, almond milk, juice, coffee

June 20 Dinner: Bourbon chicken, stewed cabbage, dirty rice, yeast roll, pasta salad, house pickles, banana pudding,  (Vegetarian option:  impossible stroganoff) tea, lemonade

June 21 Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, grits, bacon, bagels, English muffins, butter, jam, assorted cereals and oatmeals, yogurt,  fruit cocktail, milk,  almond milk, juice, coffee

June 21 Dinner: Barbecue pork, cole slaw, baked beans (vegetarian), grilled summer veggies, Hawaiiam rolls, peach cobbler (Vegetarian  option: BBQ shittake burgers with house pickles and red onion) tea, lemonade 

June 22 Breakfast: Breakfast burritos, grits, turkey sausage, bagels, English muffins, butter, jam, assorted cereals and oatmeals,  yogurt, fruit cocktail, milk, almond milk, juice, coffee

June 22 Dinner: Nachos and soft taco bar with beef, chicken, rice, black beans, sauteed vegetables, lettuce, onion, cilantro,  pico de Gallo, sour  cream, flan, tea, lemonade 

June 23 Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, home fries with onions and peppers, sausage links, toast, bagels, English muffins, butter,  jam, assorted  cereals and oatmeals, yogurt, fruit cocktail, milk, almond milk, juice, coffee

June 23 Dinner: Penne pasta, beef bolognese, vegan bolognese, vegetarian white lasagna, steamed vegetables, caesar  salad, garlic bread, tea,  lemonade (dessert TBD)

June 24 Breakfast: Quiche (meat and vegetarian), grits with a variety of chopped breakfast toppings, bagels, English muffins,  butter, jam, assorted cereals and oatmeals, yogurt, fruit cocktail, milk, almond milk, juice, coffee

June 24 Dinner: Rosemary and sage roasted turkey, broccoli and rice casserole, baked sweet potatoes, caprese spinach salad, croissants, lemon bars, tea, lemonade 

June 25 Breakfast: Breakfast casserole (meat and vegetarian), sausage and bacon, grits, bagels, English muffins, butter, jam, assorted cereals and oatmeals, yogurt, fruit cocktail, milk, almond milk, juice, coffee



On the first day of our journey, we will leave our vehicles in a secure location for the week, and on the last day of our journey, June 25, following our river’s end celebration, we will shuttle all participants and boats back to our original parking location.  Of course, you are welcome to run your own shuttle. However, vehicles will not be available during the week and there WILL NOT BE an amenity shuttle each afternoon at camp. Please plan ahead and bring everything you need for a week of camping on the river. All camp gear and equipment will be transported from campsite to campsite in our sag vehicles. Of course, you are welcome to carry your gear in your boat if you wish. 


As we finalize our evening educational programs, that information will be posted here! Each evening we will have an educational program and we’ll also visit points of interest along the way. As details about special tours and education programs are finalized, they will be posted here. 


Paddle Georgia Policies

  1. No alcoholic beverages are permitted on the river.
  2. All participants must attend the pre-launch safety briefing. Participants must adhere to the safety guidelines presented.
  3. Participants must wear a properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard approved personal floatation device at all times on the river.
  4. Participants under age 18 are the responsibility of, and must be accompanied by, a parent or guardian.
  5. Sorry, no pets allowed.
  6. All participants must sign a Medical and Emergency Contact Information sheet and a Waiver of Claims and Release of Liability form. Parents must sign for children under the age of 18. (These forms will be sent in the information packet.
  7. Person-powered watercraft only.
  8. All participants must respect private property along the river.
  9. All participants must possess basic paddling skills and be capable of self-rescue in the water.
  10. No more than 2 children under the age of 12 per adult guardian.
  11. All children must have a designated seat in the vessel in which they are traveling. (no children on decks of kayaks or as “passengers” in cockpits of solo kayaks)
  12. Georgia River Network is not responsible for any personal property that may be lost, damaged, or stolen during the trip.

Code of Conduct

At Georgia River Network, we like to think of our river adventure participants as our “river family.” We come from many different backgrounds, but the river is the great equalizer and our common bond. We want all participants to treat one another as family. 


  • Be respectful of all participants, including their property, their person and their personal views. On our river adventures you will paddle, eat and camp with people that are very different from you. Please respect and celebrate those differences.
  • Be helpful. If you see someone that needs a hand in camp or on the river, please lend yours.
  • Be courteous. Be prepared to wait in lines for restrooms, shuttle buses, meals and more. Remember, we are all in the same boat; only by working together can we get everyone safely down the river.


  • Use inappropriate language. This is a family event with participants of all ages.
  • Verbally or physically intimidate or abuse other participants.
  • Become intoxicated or under the influence of mind-altering drugs.
  • Violate quiet hours by engaging in loud talk and disruptive behavior between 10 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.

Violations of these policies and our code of conduct can result in the participant being removed from the event without refund.

For Parents and Guardians of Children

Parents and guardians are responsible for the welfare and safety of their minor participants at all times, both on the river and in camp. Understand that while Georgia River Network’s river adventure trips almost without exception attract uncommonly good and kind people, Georgia River Network does not screen participants or conduct background checks on participants. 

Refund Policy

Registrations with full refunds are available up until the date of the event for COVID-19 related reasons. Other cancellations must be made prior to Jan. 15 to receive a full refund less 10 percent. 

What Should I Bring? (here’s a checklist of essential items!) First Aid Kit; Sunscreen; Necessary Medication; Water Bottles (at least 3 quart bottles for each person); At least two paddles for each boat; Flexible mindset; Tent or other shelter, sleeping bag or sleep sack and sleeping pad (if you are camping); proper footwear for river and land; rain gear; whistle for signaling emergency.

Here’s a checklist of suggested optional items: Labels with your name for your boat, luggage, and other personal belongings; Ground Cloth; Reusable Plate/Utensils (wash stations provided); Clothing for weekend; Waterproof Stuff Sacks for Camp Gear; Waterproof stuff sack or case for lunch and other on river items (like dry clothing); Clothes/Swimsuit; Money to tip the caterers; Insect Repellent; Towel/Wash Cloth; Soap, Toothpaste, Toiletries; Flashlight/Head Lamp; Book; Camera; Watertight cases for Boat; Fishing Gear/License; Duct Tape; Sponge; Bailer; Snacks for river and camp; Hat or Cap (don’t forget to get your Paddle Georgia hats!); Bug netting; Extra Length of Rope; Ear Plugs (Some of our paddlers snore!); Sleep Shades (Lights out at 10 p.m.); Laptop & Electronic Communication Devices (optional and frowned upon!); Water Guns/Cannon (optional and encouraged!);  Lightweight long sleeved pants or shirts for bug protection in the evening; Layered non-cotton clothing; Bottled Water

What Shouldn’t I Bring? No alcohol Permitted

16 Things You Should Bring on the Water Each Day 

  1. At least two paddles for each boat.
  2. PFD—every Paddle Georgia participant must wear a Coast Guard approved personal flotation device at all times while on the river (no ifs, ands, buts or “gee, it’s really hot!” – this policy is STRICTLY enforced)
  3. Every canoe should have two lines, a bow line and a stern line 8-10 feet each in length secured in such a way that they are readily accessible, but cannot come loose accidentally. Loose rope increases the risk of entanglement in the event of capsize. Kayaks should have grab loops at both bow and stern.
  4. An extra throw rope in case of emergencies should be stored safely in each boat.
  5. Attach a whistle to your life vest or body to signal for help in case of emergency.
  6. A Knife
  7. Waterproof matches or other fire source in waterproof covering.
  8. First Aid Kit—while boats will be on the river with basic first aid supplies, each vessel should bring a first aid kit stored inside a waterproof bag or container.
  9. A repair kit—each vessel should be able to make their own repairs (duct tape, sealant, waterproof tape and other materials are recommended)
  10. Rain Gear—Be prepared to get wet and potentially cold. Every participant should have access to a lightweight rain jacket and rain pants in a waterproof bag or container.
  11. Change of Clothes—Be prepared to take an unexpected swim. Every participant should have access to a dry change of clothes kept in a waterproof bag or container.
  12. Appropriate footwear that will protect your feet from unseen underwater hazards and permit you to walk comfortably on land when launching and taking out and in the event that you must exit the Paddle Georgia course.
  13. Sunscreen—Sunburn might be the trip’s biggest hazard.
  14. Water Bottle or Three —At least three quarts per person per day is recommended. Bring sufficient water for the day’s paddle for everyone in your boat. Also consider bringing electrolyte packs or powdered sports drink mix to add to your water to avoid dehydration. Drinking water is not available along the Paddle Georgia route and no drink is provided w/ sack lunches. Many paddlers will fill one bottle with water and another with sports drinks (provided each morning for you to fill your own bottles).
  15. Food—There is no access to food along the Paddle Georgia route. Sack lunches are provided to participants. No drink is included with the lunch.
  16. Dry Bag or Ziploc—Bring a waterproof bag to protect items you don’t want to get wet, including your lunch.

Paddle Georgia Safety Procedures

Paddle Georgia participants should be aware that this canoe trip is not a commercially-guided trip. While Georgia River Network and Paddle Georgia staff will be available on the river during each day’s paddle and participants with medical and/or First Aid training will be identified, we cannot personally ensure the safety of all participants. Unlike a commercial trip in which paid guides direct you through each bend of the river, Paddle Georgia is designed to be your adventure, and as such, you are responsible for your own safety. All participants are assuming risks (some of which are outlined below) while participating in Paddle Georgia.

Skill Level Required:  The Okefenokee-St. Marys River trip suitable for most novice paddlers. The journey into the swamp will take approximately 8 hours and there is only one location to get out of your boat (Monkey Lake Shelter 7 miles from our launch site). Paddlers should have a basic understanding of paddle strokes, should be able to control their vessels in moving water and be capable of self-rescue in moving or deep water. If you are new to paddling, we highly recommend that you take a canoe/kayak paddling course prior to the trip. Our route is all flat water; there are no shoals or rapids.

For a reminder of basic paddling safety practices, watch this American Canoe Association Video.

Weather: Average High Temperature: 86 F; Average Low Temperature: 68 F. Average June Rainfall: 3.3  inches with typically a 40 percent chance of rain daily. 


Strainers—Strainers are branches, trees, vegetation or other partially or totally submerged obstacles in the river’s current often found along the river’s edge. These hazards allow only water to pass through freely. The current will pull anything else down, plastering it into place, similar to the action of a kitchen colander. It is best to approach submerged trees or logs along the river bank from the downstream side to avoid having the current pin your boat against the obstacle or flipped by the force of the water. You should also avoid grabbing on to low hanging branches of partially submerged vegetation as this action can often cause your boat to capsize. To avoid a multi-boat pile up, leave enough room between boats to allow each boat to safely navigate around these obstacles.

Weather—Strong thunderstorms and high winds are not uncommon. In the event of inclement weather that includes the risk of lightning, paddle to shore, secure your boat and find cover under a dense stand of small trees. Avoid open areas, especially open areas with solitary trees, and avoid gathering in large groups. By dispersing yourselves over a large area, you reduce the risk of lightning striking numerous individuals at one time. Squatting, with your feet on a personal flotation device or seat cushion, is a good idea when in the midst of a thunderstorm (while on solid ground—not in your boat!).

Sun and Heat—Hats and appropriate sun screen are recommended. If you get too hot, the river comes with built in air conditioning – get in and cool off. You should carry at least three quarts of water each day to avoid dehydration. Sports drinks with electrolytes are also recommended. The first two days are usually the most difficult as we acclimate from spending lots of time in air-conditioned buildings to spending all day in 80-90-degree heat. Prepare by drinking lots of fluids in the days leading up to the trip.

Water Temperature—The combination of cold water and a cold afternoon thunderstorm raises the risk of dangerous changes in body temperature. Be prepared with rain gear and layered clothing that stays warm even when wet (avoid cotton).

Water Quality – Due to a variety of conditions, water quality can vary and organisms that cause illness may be present. Swimming and submersion in the water increase the risk of contracting water-borne illnesses. Ingesting river water should be avoided and cuts and sores should be kept out of the water and treated if exposed.

Trash—Unfortunately, Georgia’s waterways collect refuse from surrounding communities. Proper footwear and exercising caution can prevent unnecessary injuries. Participants should wear sandals or shoes that provide adequate protection from broken bottles, rusted appliance parts and tin cans and anything else you might find at your local landfill.

Venomous Snakes—The land surrounding our paddle routes is potential habitat for three venomous snakes—rattlesnakes, water moccasins and coral snakes. If you encounter any snakes, simply leave them alone. Should you have the misfortune of being bitten, remain calm and get medical assistance as quickly as possible. Bites from these venomous snakes are rarely fatal, given proper medical attention. At any given moment on this trip you will not be more than a few hours from a hospital.

Terra Firma—Please step carefully when paying visits to land. And, remember, the Okefenokee is the “land of the trembling earth!” What looks like solid ground might sink when you put your weight on it! 

Your Fellow Paddlers—This is a journey involving many individuals with varying degrees of skill level. Space yourselves so that you do not interfere with one another when maneuvering around obstacles. Pileups on the river can be just as dangerous as those that occur on interstate highways.

Paddle Georgia “Buddy System”

We will rely on the “Buddy System” to ensure that all participants arrive safely at the day’s take-out point. Before each day’s paddle, identify your “buddy boat or boats.” This will be the boat or group of boats with whom you will paddle for the day. The group is responsible for ensuring that if someone needs help on the river that someone is nearby to provide help and that no one is left behind. Do not lose sight of your buddy boat or members of your buddy boat group. Participants who have not identified a buddy boat for the day’s paddle will not be permitted to launch from the day’s put-in point. A sweep boat will bring up the rear of the day’s paddle to further ensure that no one is left behind

Other Considerations

What do I do if I capsize? On slow moving water, stay with your boat and swim it to shore or shallow water where you can dump the water and right your vessel. It floats even when full with water and can support you if you become tired. Make sure your belongings are secured to your boat to keep from losing them in the event of a capsize. Your fellow buddy boaters can assist in recovering any belongings and help you right your boat.In fast-moving water or rapids, get away and upstream from your boat until you reach slower moving water. Float on your back, feet downstream.  Don’t try to stand in fast-moving water.  Rocks or other objects can trap your feet and the force of the water can hold you under. Moving canoes filled with water can pin or crush paddlers against rocks or trees.

In the event of inclement weather…As noted above, thunderstorms are not uncommon, however, usually these afternoon-variety showers do not last long. If you are on the river during a storm event, take appropriate cover as described above, wait out the storm and continue your journey when it appears safe. Protective facilities along the river for large groups are not available.

We will make every effort to ensure that each day’s paddle is completed in full. However, if all-day dangerous weather is predicted, Spring on the Satilla will be cancelled for the day. Boats will be shuttled to the day’s next put-in point. Rain alone does not constitute dangerous weather. All participants are expected to paddle rain or shine, or they may make their own arrangements for moving themselves and their boats to the next put-in and campsite. Exceptions may be made for families paddling with small children.

Swimming…Swimming is permitted with PFDs, but of course, swim at your own risk. Water quality on this journey varies due to point and non-point source pollution. Water quality is generally at its least healthy immediately following rain events—this is especially true downstream of urban areas.

Private Property…As you will see, our route on the St. Marys takes you through many a neighbor’s backyard. Private property must be respected. It is illegal to trespass onto someone’s property, and it is an offense that is prosecutable by law. You may not enter someone’s property unless you have first received permission. At least one rest stop, with portable toilet facilities and/or restrooms will be available at the approximate midway point of each day’s paddle, therefore it is imperative that you make use of bathroom facilities when they are available. If nature calls, please use a camp trowel and cover all human waste appropriately or carry a sealable plastic bag to remove your waste with you.

Communication in the Event of Emergency…There will be cellular phones on the river at all times (one with the lead boat, one with the sweep boat and others in between). In the event of an emergency, attempt to signal or locate a boat with a cellular phone. If cellular service is available, the participants in these boats can communicate with land-based emergency personnel and on-the-water motorized boats where available.

Universal River Signals…Participants are expected to use universal river signals to communicate with other boats. They are as follows:

  • Stop: Potential Danger Ahead—Form a horizontal bar with your paddle and outstretched arms above your head. Those seeing this signal should pass it back to others in the party. Participants should wait for the “all clear signal” before proceeding.
  • All Clear—Form a vertical bar with your paddle, raising your arm and paddle above your head. The paddle blade should be turned flat for maximum visibility. This means the trip can proceed. To signal direction or preferred course through an obstacle, lower the all clear to a 45 degree angle toward the side of the river with the preferred route.
  • Help/Emergency—Wave paddle over your head and give three long blasts on your whistle. Whistles are best carried attached to your life vest. This means other paddlers should assist the signaler as quickly as possible.
  • I’m OK—Holding your elbow out to the side, repeatedly pat the top of your head with your hand. This signals that you are not hurt and do not need assistance.



Paddle Georgia 2022

a project of
Georgia River Network

Paddle Georgia 2021
Georgia River Network

126 South Milledge Avenue, Suite E3, Athens, Georgia 30605 | (706) 549-4508 (phone) |