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

Click here to learn more about our waterproof guidebooks.

Georgia River Information and Trip Reports

River Access Points

Stream Flow Data

Other miscellaneous links

Lake Recreation Information

Georgia Paddling Guides and Books

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!

Basic Equipment

___ Paddle

___ Personal Floatation Device (PFD)/ life jacket

___ Hat/Helmet

___ Spray Skirt (if needed)

___ Water Shoes

___  First Aid Kit

___ Spare paddle

___ River Guide/Map

___ Water Bottle

___ Sunscreen

___ 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

___Whistle

___ Knife

Overnight Equipment

___ Sleeping bag

___ Sleeping pad

___ Tent

___ Ground tarp for tent

___ Flashlight or Headlamp

___ Camp Chair

___ Toiletries

___ Warm clothes for camp

Optional Items

___ Fishing Gear

___ Camera

___ Binoculars

___ Nature/Guide book

Understand Basic Safety

  • When possible, paddle in a group
  • Wear and carry proper equipment including PFD, helmet (if needed), and river rescue equipment (throw rope, first aid, etc.)
  • Inform someone outside of your paddling party of your plans and return time
  • Learn to control your boat and be able to stop the boat at any time and land on shore
  • Be knowledgeable and aware of river hazards including strainers (fallen logs), rock sieves, hydraulics, dams, and bridge pillars
  • Choose a river/coastline within everyone in your groups ability
  • Check river conditions and flow levels prior to putting on the river

More detailed specific whitewater safety information can be found at American Whitewater.

 
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

Respect Wildlife

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

Fishing

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.

Georgia River Fishing
This site has links and descriptions of the fishing opportunities in many of Georgia’s major rivers.

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!

Monitoring/Clean ups

Rivers Alive
Look for organized clean-ups in your area or organize your own!

Adopt-a-Stream
Get trained as a volunteer to monitor water quality in your area.

Birding

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.

 

Click here to see all Georgia River Network events.

Click here to see a calendar of events happening all over 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

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
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.

Dam Removal
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!!

Georgia River Network
Earth Share
Paddle Georgia
Georgia Water Trails
Hidden Gem
Georgia Water Coalition

 

126 South Milledge Avenue, Suite E3, Athens, Georgia 30605 | (706) 549-4508 (phone) | (706) 549-7791 (fax) | info@garivers.org