Kayaking is one of the top water sports in the world. It involves the paddling on a small boat also known as ‘kayak’. There are different varieties of kayaks depending on where you are in the world. You can kayak everywhere whether it is on a lake, river, sea; the thrill of the sport is what entices people around the world to do this sport, even in Georgia.
The reason why people love coming to Georgia is that of its variety of different kinds of waterfalls and lakes that give ample amount of space for enthusiasts to go kayaking. Here are some guidelines on where to go kayaking in Georgia.
History of Kayaking in Georgia
You may be wondering where kayaking started. Thousands of years ago tribes such as the Inuits and Aleut from North America were the ones who invented the kayak. The kayaks at that time were either made from driftwood or by stretching animal skins. In order to accommodate their large families, they used umiaqs which had ample space to allow easier transport of people and possessions. The kayaks were mostly used for hunting and fishing, where the hunters would go on the water and hunt the desired animals for food. In the 1800s, Europeans started using the kayak and used it mostly for recreational purposes such as sports.
The kayak then soon turned into the recreational sport when Adolf Anderle, in 1931, became known as the first man to kayak at the Salzachofen Gorge falls. After this, many saw it as a good competitive sport and it was not far until in 1936 when the Olympic Games introduced kayaking, thus making it more global. Two years later with the United States made it more mainstream in the 1970s when it became one of the most popular sports in the world.
The texture and material used to make the kayaks have changed over time; from using fiberglass in the 1950s, to polyethylene plastic kayaks in the 1980s all due to changing times and which material was most able to tolerate the heavy currents of the rivers.
Recently, people have started using the carbon fiber material which can tolerate very heavy currents. In 2010, the GRN (Georgia River Network) started the Georgia Water Trails Program in order to provide a concise information to kayaking enthusiasts as well as newcomers so that they knew which trail to follow. The main idea of the GRN is to provide safe clean waters for people to easily enjoy.
10 Best Places to Kayak in Georgia
1. Altamaha River, Near Brunswick
Altamaha River has recently been called by the Nature Conservancy as one of the ‘must visit’ places in the whole world on a list of 75 places! Having a variety of 29 different hotels nearby for your own convenience, this river extends for more than 138 miles, thereby providing you with ample amount of space for your kayaking activities. It is also the second largest watershed in the whole of the United States, housing around 130 endangered species.
2. Augusta Canal/Savannah Rapids
Augusta Canal also known as the Savannah Rapids is located in the Savannah River. While it is mostly enjoyed by experienced enthusiasts, many other people of different skill levels also enjoy it.
The atmosphere provides a serene and calm environment to kayak freely amongst the old historic sites as well as the preserved wildlife, an area not to be missed on our list! One particular area to visit would be the Midway Jones Creek Park which is located on the tidal creek, you will only have to be aware of the tides.
3. Chattahoochee River, in Columbus
The Chattahoochee Rivers starts from the Northeast of Georgia and continues to the heart of metro Atlanta then ending at the Gulf of Mexico. This river is one of Atlanta’s most famous places to visit for tourists who come here since it is a preserved natural environment. The river also provides an immense whitewater course for river rapids from Class two to Class five. A guide company by the name of the ‘Whitewater Express’ offers help to new kayakers and tourists who need guidance. Also check out Top 5 places for Expert Kayakers for more info.
4. Lake Blue Ridge
Lake Blue Ridge was formed in 1930 on the Toccoa River when the Blue Ridge Dam was made. This lake is 3,290 acres of water, thus being Georgia’s most renowned lakes from the mountains. Kayakers can fully experience in a few hours kayaking the Toccoa River with or without a guide to enjoy the beautiful nature.
Toccoa River is also a very famous place to go fishing as well as a renowned overnight camping location with a Class I and Class II River. If you feel a bit hungry then you can go to the Toccoa Riverside Restaurant after a long day of kayaking. It is located with a full riverside view with an array of seafood items to eat. The restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays but it is open the rest of the week!
5. Stone Mountain Park Lane, Stone Mountain
If you are looking for a good vacation with your family over the holidays then the Stone Mountain Park Lane is a must. It is mostly crowded with people during the day as it a very famous tourist place to visit. It is better to kayak in the lake early in the morning in order to enjoy nature at the fullest. It also offers a guide service which teaches beginners to experts and you have the choice of going for outings the whole day, half a day or only for a few hours. Also important is that they allow animals to kayak with you as long as they have some form of safety protection.
6. Flint River, Albany
Need an excuse to go to Albany? Well, the Flint River in Albany, Georgia provides the best conditions for kayaking. This river will provide you with everything. From a beautiful view of the landscape and wildlife, it is a whole experience for the adventurer. It is the best trips for beginners or for people who want to come with their families as the water current is slightly slower and while kayaking you can easily marvel at nature’s beauty. The length of the river extends from 200 to 344 miles offering a slow, steady current and is also known for searching for the blue hole springs.
Some activities include the Kayak Attack adventures which invite you to visit the Flint River Aquarium. You can also take part for 2 to 5 hours adventures at Georgia’s Seven Natural Wonders’. You also have the luxury of camping under the wilderness as well as fishing and kayaking.
7. Chattooga National Wild and Scenic River, Clayton
If you are looking for a challenging river with less development and more wilderness, then the Chattooga River is the one for you. It is one of the biggest and free-flowing rivers in the whole of United States. This river also serves as a boundary between South Carolina and Georgia thereby allowing you to fully appreciate both states at the same time. It is the primetime destination for experts during the summer time.
The activities here include the Southeastern Expeditions and the Wildwater Chattooga Adventure Center. The Southeastern Expeditions allows enthusiasts to learn the basic skills required for whitewater kayaking. Hire an appropriate guide for your level and start to become an expert in this area. Many kayakers also opt for the Wildwater Chattooga Adventure Center where you can get a kayak tour and can also learn how to climb walls.
8. Okefenokee Swamp
Do you wish to go kayaking on a Georgian swamp? Well, we have just the right place for you, the Okefenokee Swamp near Waycross in Georgia. Not only is it a peaceful and serene environment, it will also give you the experience of mystical landscapes and wildlife. There is a lot of greenery because it’s a swamp. There are rows and rows of trees and a lot of moss, but beware of alligators! Since it is full of variety and different landscapes, the Okefenokee Swamp is known to be part of Georgia’s Seven Natural Wonders.
Some activities that you can enjoy include the Stephen C. Foster State Park and the Okefenokee Adventures. The Stephen C.Foster Park is the most visited location in this area as you can enjoy kayaking under the sunset alongside the park and also go for astronomy scheduled programs at night. This park also has space for campsites under the wilderness where you can easily look at the stars.
Furthermore, you can also plan the Okefenokee Adventures which involves kayaking around the site. Even if you forget your kayaks, you can easily buy or rent them out in the variety of stores in that area thereby providing you with the best possible comfort in that area. Don’t be deterred by the thought of a swamp, it has a lot to offer.
9. George Smith State Park, Twin City
Looking for more parks? There is one for you at the George Smith State Park at Twin City providing you with amazing southern scenery at its best. This park includes beautiful jaw-dropping landscapes and it is also full of wildlife including species you may have never heard of.
Hire a guide and make sure to look at all the amazing things that you can see. It is a great family vacation where you can easily bring your visit this park and have the time of your life. What’s more, the ample amounts of moss and trees give the vibe of being in a jungle where you feel as if you are kayaking in a wild, mysterious jungle.
One of the most visited places in this park is the Mill Pond where there is an abundance of greenery due to moss, along with frogs and tadpoles that are seen jumping around in this serene environment. The kayakers here have always praised this place and it is a must to visit for any kayaking enthusiast.
10. Lake Blackshear, Cordele
Lake Blackshear is an 8,700-acre lake situated in Cordele, Georgia at the Georgia Veterans State Park. This park is known for its serene and peaceful atmosphere including jaw-dropping sunsets and seeing wildlife species including different breeds of alligators, turtles and many different types of birds. You get to observe these animals at a close distance while at the same time safe in your kayak.
People can easily bring their own kayaks and kayak in this lake in a very calm atmosphere. Visitors have always applauded the Lake Blackshear Resort and Golf Club. Now, the resort itself is a place to visit with its luxurious rooms, restaurants along with sports outdoor activities that include a golf course and other recreational activities such as museum visits. This location also provides you with swimming pools and a variety of shops.
You can also go fishing in one of those lakes or even hire a guide to give you fishing tours in the area if you want to save time or even take fishing lessons if you are new at fishing. This area is thus perfect for people of all ages as there are ample amounts of activities in this location offering you a great experience.
Best season/ time to kayak in Georgia
North Georgia is the ideal place for a kayaking excursion. The North Georgia Mountains provide you with an array of different river capacities, from slow currents to very fast tides, it will give a whole new experience. It is in fact known to be the center of recreational activities during summer due to its ability to cater to people of all ages whether they are beginners or experts and at the same time providing them with tours and guides so that they can improve.
According to people who have done these trips, the best time of the year would be either during early summer or spring if you want to get the best experience. At this time, the place will be covered with greenery such as wildflowers full of colors and the water level will also be the highest. During mid- to late summer, the water level may be too high and so it is best to check the water’s levels before embarking on this trip.
The first thing to do would be to manage your trip properly. If, for example, you are considering bringing your whole family, don’t bring them when the tides are too high or when everything is frozen in winter.
Training centers in Georgia
The mountains in Northern Georgia have just the right climate for kayaking over lakes and rivers as they have the perfect amount of cold air. All of the sites provide you with centers where you can easily learn how to kayak your way through rivers and lakes.
- White Water Learning Center of Georgia
The White Water learning center provides you the opportunity for not only kayaking but also canoeing and paddle boarding. You can easily choose your trips according to your preference from either 2:00 to 4:00 pm or 4:00 to 6:00 pm. These tours also provide shuttles to the desired location to save time and also for other activities like hiking and biking.
They teach from Class I to Class IV after assessing your level correctly so that you may become a better kayaker. The point of their program is to provide a safe and secure environment for enthusiasts.
- Chattahoochee Nature Center
The Chattahoochee Nature Center takes place in the Chattahoochee River which is one of the most visited places for kayaking. This center provides kayaking as well as canoeing lessons along with other workshops. Furthermore, other services such as nature tours, wildlife tours, boat, camping and hiking tours are also provided.
This place is best for people of all ages where they are offered hands-on wildlife experiences with wildlife species, to giving canoeing as well as kayaking lessons, this place is the total package. It is a calm, peaceful and clean environment with very eager guides who love their job.
- Southeastern Expeditions
Southeastern Expeditions is a training center in the Chattooga River at Clayton, Georgia. This center has been a favorite with its customers as it provides kayaking lessons as well as tours of the wildlife along with activities at the amusement park for people of all ages. The guides here are full of humor and positivity thereby making your trip one to remember.
Camping sites in Georgia
The best time to go camping in Georgia would in summer, spring or fall if you are an outdoor person and want an escape from the crowded city. Many people prefer camping near the water so that they can enjoy other outdoor activities such as kayaking, canoeing, swimming, fishing and paddle boarding. Here is a list of the best locations:
Skidaway Island, Savannah
Skidaway Island Park in Savannah, Georgia is one to visit if you are planning to camp. Savannah is full of old historic monuments, museums, variety of shops and amazing food. If you camp at the Skidaway Island State Park, you will be not far away from the Savannah River providing you a perfect place where you can easily go for kayaking and all the other outdoor activities that you wish to do.
Oconee River Campground, Greensboro
For a more secluded camping area, go to the Oconee River Campground where you can only get five tents at the camping sites that are also near the river. It is a cheaper alternative than the others and if you would like privacy then this is the place to go. The campground is also near town, only 13 miles away, where you can get all of your supplies. Drinking water may be an issue here so make sure to bring your own bottled water.
High Falls State Park, Macon
This campsite is more spacious where there are over 100 campsites along with a large swimming pool during summer time. It is the nearest to the waterfall of Atlanta, keeping you nearer to your kayaking activities in the river. Along with kayaking, it is also one of the most famous fishing spots in the Southeast. This park also provides other outdoor activities such as canoeing, paddle boarding and even hiking for a full-fledged outdoor experience. The visitors here were not disappointed.
Many kayaking experts are astonished when they visit the lakes and rivers of Georgia. If you are looking for an adventure filled with fun and risk then Georgia is the place to go. Whether you are new at kayaking or not, the experts and guides are here to make your experience worthwhile and to make amazing memories. You do not even have to own kayaking gear because you can easily buy and rent from the shops around the city.
The abundance of rivers, lakes, and waterfalls helps you enjoy other outdoor activities such as camping and fishing or activities that you were too scared to attempt. However, in order to have the best experience, plan your vacation properly by expecting to have the best time, planning the worst scenario in your mind and allowing yourself to be amazed by nature’s wonders. Kayaking is not only a hobby but also a way to completely be swept away by nature’s currents.
Time to Gear up and go kayaking!