Water Trails & Paddling
Trip Planning & Activities
If you are feeling adventurous, and the river you want to explore does not have a designated water trail, we hope to provide you with some resources to plan your own adventure. Resources include links to find access to the river, outfitters that can help you with a boat and basic information about what the different rivers in Georgia have to offer. Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised. Do your homework. Understand the section of river you are planning to paddle, the weather conditions, whether you have the proper equipment and where your access points are. Planning upfront will make your trip much smoother and much safer!
Learn About the River You Are Paddling and Choose Safe Access
Before you go on your trip check these websites and guidebooks for access points, trip reports, and river levels. Its important to choose safe, legal access and understand what obstacles you may encounter at various river flows.
Georgia River Network Guidebooks
Georgia River Information and Trip Reports
- Brown’s Guides
- Paddling.net (Georgia Information)
- American Whitewater (Georgia River Database)
- Georgia Canoe Association
River Access Points
- Georgia DNR Boat Ramps
- American Whitewater (Georgia River Database)
- Trails.com (trail maps filtered by Georgia and Canoeing)
Stream Flow Data
Other miscellaneous links
- American Canoe Association Water Trails Database
- Paddle Georgia
- Georgia Park Paddlers Club
- GA DNR Guide to Fishing and Floating
Lake Recreation Information
- Georgia Power Lakes
Drill down on the map for details on boat ramps, picnic areas etc. https://www.georgiapower.com/lakes/home.asp
- US Army Corps of Engineers Information on GA Lake Recreation
- A Paddler’s Guide to Northern Georgia (Paperback) by Bob Sehlinger, Don Otey
- A Paddler’s Guide to Southern Georgia (Paperback) by Bob Sehlinger, Don Otey
- A Canoeing and Kayaking Guide to Georgia by Suzanne Welander, Bob Sehlinger, Don Otey
- Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s Guide to the Chattahoochee by Fred Brown and Sherri M.L. Smith
- Etowah River User’s Guide by Joe Cook
- The Flint River A Recreational Guidebook To The Flint River And Environs by Fred Brown and Sherri M.L. Smith
- The Georgia Coast: Waterways and Islands by Nancy Schwalbe Zydler & Tom Zydler
- Paddling Georgia: A Guide to the State’s Best Paddling Routes by Johnny Malloy
- Paddling Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge by David O’Neill
Know What to Bring
Please feel free to use our equipment list for your trip, but be aware this may not be an all inclusive list for your tip. Have fun!
___ Personal Floatation Device (PFD)/ life jacket
___ Spray Skirt (if needed)
___ Water Shoes
___ First Aid Kit
___ Spare paddle
___ River Guide/Map
___ Water Bottle
___ Sunglasses with strap
___ Dry Bag with extra warm dry clothes
___ Extra food and snacks
___ Rain Gear
___ Dry change of clothes
Whitewater Safety Equipment
___ Throw rope
___ Sleeping bag
___ Sleeping pad
___ Ground tarp for tent
___ Flashlight or Headlamp
___ Camp Chair
___ Warm clothes for camp
___ Fishing Gear
___ Nature/Guide book
Understand Basic Safety
See our detailed Paddling Safety Page to learn more safety tips!
Practice Leave No Trace
Paddling is one of the least impacting ways to enjoy the outdoors. Leave No Trace Ethics are often summed up with the phrase “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.” Well as paddlers we strive to leave only paddle strokes! Here are a few tips to help reduce your impact.
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Familiarize with route and plan trip accordingly
Pack appropriate amount of food, and minimize waste by repackaging food
Choose a river that matches your skills to minimize impacts
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Durable surfaces include rock, gravel, and sand.
Park only in designated areas.
Minimize your impact during launching, portaging, and scouting.
Avoid disturbing riparian vegetation.
Leave campsites cleaner than you found them
Dispose of Waste Properly
Carry out what you bring in
Use toilets when available
Leave What You Find
Leave artifacts, natural objects
Take only pictures, leave only paddle strokes
Minimize Campfire Impact
Use camp stoves to cook rather than fires
When having a fire use a fire pan or fire ring
Carry out ash with garbage
Use dead and downed wood
Observe wildlife from a distance and do not feed wildlife
Store food and trash in a secure place to protect wildlife
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
Let nature’s sounds prevail.
Avoid camping or eating near major rapids where scouting and portaging take place.
For more information about the Leave No Trace ethics, visit www.lnt.org.
Water Trail Activities
Georgia Kayak Fishing
Georgia has it’s very own kayak fishing chapter. They offer planned events, information about boat launches, and the latest news in the kayak fishing world.
Go Fish Education Center
DNR has an education center located in Perry, Georgia that offers information for seasoned and novice anglers alike.
Buy a Fishing License
Don’t forget to get your fishing license before you head out!
Look for organized clean-ups in your area or organize your own!
Get trained as a volunteer to monitor water quality in your area.
Southern Rivers Birding Trail
DNR has highlighted over 30 sites from north Georgia all the way to the coast, with many sites located on the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers.
Places to Bird
Georgia Ornithological Society has plenty of birding resources including sites on water trails like the Chattahoochee, Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge, and the Georgia Coast. So bring your binoculars in your canoe!!
Find Trips and Events
Looking for a short, guided afternoon paddle with the kids on your local river or maybe you want to test your speed? Join one of our trips or find an event near you using our calendar of event that lists trips from other organizations around the state.
Conservation and Stewardship Opportunities
Water trails create an incentive to protect water quality for recreational uses and to protect the economic opportunities of increased tourism. Local pride in the river helps build support for river conservation. Conservation opportunities include but are not limited to:
- River Clean-ups
- Volunteer Trail Keepers and Water Monitors
- Land Protection
- Dam Removal
- Improved Planning Efforts
- More Permanent Protections For Your Waterway
River clean-ups are an excellent way to introduce citizens to their natural environments. Organizing a half-day cleanup is relatively easy, and it can greatly improve the healthfulness and aesthetic value of water bodies in a community. Conduct trash cleanup events along water trails and water trail access points. Volunteers can organize a river clean up with the help of Georgia’s Rivers Alive program. Learn more about organizing a clean up or finding one in your area at https://www.georgiaadoptastream.com/RiversAlive. Other helpful guides have been produced by the EPA, American Rivers, and Missouri River Relief.
Take advantage of Bridgestone’s One Team, One Planet Spent Tire Program. Since Earth Day 2012, this program has salvaged and recycled more than 25,000 tires from over than 80 river cleanups. If you have a cleanup planned be sure to fill out the Community Event Request Form and Bridgestone will collect your tires for free! They ask that you submit your request at least one month before your cleanup event.
Volunteer Trail Keepers and Water Monitors
Individuals or groups can adopt a water trail or a section of a water trail (similar to adopt-a-highway programs). Volunteers monitor and report on water quality conditions on the trail using Georgia Adopt A Stream’s volunteer monitoring program.
Learn about it at Georgia Adopt-a-Stream.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s “How’s my Waterway” app and website helps you find information on the condition of your local waterways, what’s being done to protect and restore those waterways, and what you can do to help. And now, How’s My Waterway lets people find out even more about their local waterways. The new features include search results color-coded by condition, local information on watersheds, a watershed locator tool, and options to look up dischargers regulated by permits and individual runoff control projects for a specific waterway. To view the app, visit: https://www.epa.gov/mywaterway
Land protection initiatives can increase wildlife habitat and provide viewing opportunities. Local protections that help keep the river clean can include improved zoning and buffer requirements, improved storm water practices, prevention of new water quality threats, and enforcement of water quality laws.
Removing dams that no longer make sense will secure natural river flows, remove recreational safety hazards, and improve access to the river.
For more information go to: https://www.americanrivers.org/initiatives/dams
Improved Planning Efforts
Improve watershed planning to protect against poorly planned development along the river.
More Permanent Protections for Your Waterway
There are also several protections that you could petition for your waterway or water trail. Please visit this section if you are interested in applying for more permanent river protection in Georgia. We are also happy to give you more information about these designations, so feel free to contact us with any questions!!