Kayaking in Georgia: 23+ Unbeatable Spots for Paddlers To Launch

Georgia is home to many different kayaking adventures for every type of paddler.  Whether you’re a beginner, and want to bring your young children along, or maybe you want to attempt to conquer Class V rapids – kayaking in Georgia is for you!

There are so many places to explore on the water in Georgia – from the salt marshes of the coast, to the mountain rivers of the north. From peaceful flatwater lakes, to alligator-filled swamps.  This guide will help you find the perfect water trail for you. Get ready to paddle your way through our beautiful state!

KAYAKING IN GEORGIA: 23+ UNBEATABLE SPOTS FOR PADDLERS TO LAUNCH
Me and the boys, kayaking Lake Lanier near sundown.

KAYAKING IN MILLEDGEVILLE

ALONG THE OCONEE RIVER

There are two sections of the Oconee River in Milledgeville, perfect for two different types of kayakers. (Or do both for a full day of fun!)

The upper section starts at the Sinclair Dam and stretches to the Milledgeville Greenway.  You’ll find Class II rapids near the end.

Families of young kids or beginners will love the lower section, with plenty of sandbars for you to stop, relax, and explore. Starting at the Oconee River Greenway and taking you down to the State Boat ramp, there are no rapids here.

Read More: 17+ Blissful Things To Do in Milledgeville Ga

ON LAKE SINCLAIR

Enjoy a calm paddle around gorgeous Lake Sinclair, perfect for beginners.  It’s also a great complement to swimming or fishing.

Read More: Lake Sinclair: 17+ More Reasons Nature Lovers Should Visit Milledgeville

OUTFITTER IN MILLEDGEVILLE

Rent kayaks or bikes with full-day or half-day trip rental options available at Oconee Outfitters.  They also provide transportation for your rental, or you can bring your own gear and they’ll provide the transportation.

They deliver rentals to Lake Sinclair and Lake Oconee and provide shuttle service to their most popular destination – the Oconee River!

Oconee Outfitters also does a lot of event paddles – such as a full moon paddle and a ladies paddle.

KAYAKING IN BLUE RIDGE

ON THE TOCCOA RIVER CANOE TRAIL

The Toccoa River Canoe Trail is a 13.8-mile river trail begins at the Deep Hole Recreation Area and ends at the take out point at Sandy Bottoms.

This beginner-level trail is perfect for those who want to experience a few rapids, and a lot of relaxing and beautiful views!  $5 fee for parking.

Read More: 50+ Top Things To Do in Blue Ridge Ga in 2024

ON LAKE BLUE RIDGE

Bring your kayak and paddle around Lake Blue Ridge and enjoy amazing scenery in the mountains!  And with 50 campsites to choose from, you could make a weekend out of it!

Read More: Lake Blue Ridge: Everything You Need to Know for a Perfect Getaway

OUTFITTERS IN BLUE RIDGE

  • Blue Ridge Mountain Kayaking offers single and tandem kayaks for 6-mile or 12-mile trips down the Toccoa River.  And if you’re new to kayaking, for an extra fee they also offer the chance to have a guide join you for your trip down the river.  Kayaking lessons are also taught here!
  • The Rolling Thunder River Company offers kayak rentals, in addition to tube and canoe rentals for heading down the Toccoa River.  They offer 1.5-mile and 6-mile trips, and due to water releases from the dam causing the 1.5-mile trip to sometimes only take 20 minutes, they now offer a 3-mile trip too.

KAYAKING ALONG THE GEORGIA COAST

ON THE ALTAMAHA RIVER

Kayak on the Altamaha River and find out why the Nature Conservancy considers it one of the world’s 75 “Last Great Places!”  The Altamaha Water Trail is long – 138 miles long to be exact.

The water trail originates near Lumber City and ends at the Atlantic Ocean.  With 29 access points along the way, you are sure to find any length of trip you’re looking for.  There are no rapids here – just easy flatwater to enjoy.

Read More: The Georgia Coast: 47 Amazing Things To Do On and Near the Barrier Islands

ON THE SATILLA RIVER

Perfect for families with kids, the Satilla River Water Trail is 140 miles long and has 11 public access points from Jamestown to Woodbine in southeast Georgia.

The beautiful black water is calm, with so much wildlife and plant life to observe and enjoy.  A kayaking trip here makes a great day trip from St. Simons Island.

Read More: 31+ Best Things To Do in St Simons Island: An Insider’s Guide To Stay, Eat & Play

ON THE SOUTHEAST COAST SALTWATER PADDLING TRAIL

Want to try something new?  How about kayaking Georgia’s coastal waters!

The Georgia Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail is a section of the Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail that includes the coastal waters of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Explore a salt marsh with your family! The Georgia section includes 170 miles of tidal marshes, rivers, and coastline to explore, and is great for all experience levels, including beginners and families with young children.

With 35 access points along the coast, and overnight trip options, this is a great way to explore wildlife along the coast.

OUTFITTERS ON THE GEORGIA COAST

  • Three Rivers Outdoors is located near Lumber City and offers kayak rentals and tours of the Altamaha River.  They provide fully guided trips, or self-guided trips, and also offer shuttle service if you have your own gear.
  • Southeast Adventure Outfitters offers different types of kayak tours around St. Simons Island  — including multi-hour trips around the island, day trips along the Altamaha River, Satilla River, or Little St. Simons Island, and multi-day trips too.
  • Golden Isles Paddle Co. has kayak and paddleboard rentals and tours and serves St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island, and the Golden Isles. In addition to their guided tours, they also offer kayak and SUP rentals on St. Simons.

KAYAKING IN AUGUSTA

ON THE AUGUSTA CANAL

Built in 1845, the Augusta Canal is a Class I trail that offers kayakers a chance to observe several of the remaining 19th century historic sites along the way.

The first level of the Augusta Canal is 7.5 miles of moving flatwater with some current, and is perfect for beginners!  And it ends right in downtown Augusta.

Read More: 5 Perfect Things You’ll Love To Do at Savannah Rapids Park Near Augusta | The Best Things To Do in Augusta GA: A Weekend Itinerary

OUTFITTERS IN AUGUSTA

  • Savannah Rapids Kayak Rental is located at the Savannah River Rapids Park and Pavilion, where you can launch. They offer a 5.3-mile trip down the Augusta Canal to Lake Olmstead.  They offer both single and tandem kayak rentals, in addition to shuttle service if you have your own kayak.
  • Cole Watkins Tours offers kayak tours and rentals of single or tandem kayaks. They have trips along the Augusta Canal, and Betty’s Branch – a Savannah River tributary.

KAYAKING IN ATHENS

ON THE BROAD RIVER

The Broad River Water Trail has 75 miles of trail, and the sections range from flatwater to Class II.  There are 10 access points to the Broad River Water Trail, as it travels through 12 Georgia counties, including Athens-Clarke.

The Broad River is special, because it is one of Georgia’s last free-flowing rivers!  It’s a great river for observing wildlife, and there are sections for beginners, families, or those who are looking for a little more excitement. The Broad River makes for the perfect kayak trip.

ON THE LAKE AT FORT YARGO

Located between Atlanta and Athens, Fort Yargo State Park in Winder has a 260-acre lake to explore.

Motorized boats are not allowed on the lake here, so this is for kayakers looking for a peaceful and relaxing flatwater experience.

OUTFITTERS IN ATHENS

  • The Broad River Outpost has been renting kayaks since 1980.  They provide a family-friendly scenic float on a Class I, 6-mile section of the river, and a Class II section that offers some cascading rapids for those looking for a few more thrills.  Their kayak rentals include transportation back to their outpost. (Note: Time slot reservations are currently required.)
  • The Sandbar just west of Bowman has sit-on-top kayak rentals for a 5-mile trip on the Broad River. They also offer zip-lining and cabins.

KAYAKING IN THE ATLANTA AREA

ON THE CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER

Ready to shoot the Hooch?!  Paddle down the Chattahoochee River National Water Trail and enjoy the first designated National Water Trail in the United States.

This 48-mile long trail is perfect for kayaking, and has both Class I and Class II sections. With 17 access points along the way, it’s easy to plan any length of paddle you’re up for on the Chattahoochee.

Twelve boat ramps are maintained by the National Park Service, and there are additional ones in the cities of Duluth, Roswell, and Sandy Springs.

ON THE YELLOW RIVER WATER TRAIL

The Yellow River Water Trail is a 53-mile flatwater trail travels through Gwinnett, DeKalb, Rockdale and Newton counties, and provides a chance to get out of the city and enjoy the river.

  • Section 1 begins at the Five Forks Bridge access in Gwinnett, and has some Class I rapids perfect for beginners.
  • Beginning at the Highway 78 access point in Gwinnett, Section 2 should only be attempted by intermediate and advanced kayakers due to the Class II and Class III rapids.
  • Section 3 starts at Yellow River Park in Gwinnett and is mostly flatwater with some Class I, which makes it perfect for beginners.
  • Down in Newton County at the Mt. Tabor access point, Section 7 is great for beginners.
  • And Section 8 is a 10-mile section in Newton County that starts at the River Front Road access point, and is great for beginners who are looking for a longer route.

ON THE GAINESVILLE UPPER LANIER WATER TRAIL

For a calm, flatwater kayaking experience, the Gainesville Upper Lanier Water Trail is perfect!  This water trail is a 14-mile section of Lake Lanier, and there are five lake parks in Gainesville where you can launch.

Perfect for beginners and families, the five launch sites include Clarks Bridge Park, Holly Park, Linwood Nature Preserve, the pier at Longwood Park, and Lanier Point Park.

OUTFITTERS IN THE ATLANTA AREA

  • Nantahala Outdoor Center’s Roswell Outpost offers tube rentals for families and groups to enjoy a fun, relaxing float trip from Don White Memorial Park to Azalea Park. This section of the Chattahoochee River is gentle and scenic offering lush greenery, wooded banks and mild currents.
  • High Country Outfitters’ Buckhead location offers year-round kayak rentals, and you’re free to take your kayak anywhere you want to go. 
  • Nomadic Flow Outfitters have kayak rentals for those who are looking to explore the Yellow River Water Trail. They offer single and tandem kayak rentals and tube rentals.

KAYAKING IN NORTHEAST GEORGIA

ON THE TUGALOO RIVER

Tugaloo River Corridor comprises the only remaining untamed portion of the historic Tugaloo River. The Corridor extends 10 miles from Panther Creek and the Yonah Dam area south to Broken Bridges at Georgia Hwy 123 and Lake Hartwell.

This area is rich with history and natural beauty and provides a wonderful backdrop for a “good paddle”!

The river is a flat paddle with a class 1 area of rapids coming away from the first launch at Yonah Dam. It is easy and provides lots of opportunities for you to enjoy scenic views of an unspoiled environment.  

ON THE CHATTOOGA RIVER

Kayaking the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River is not for the faint of heart!  Although this river includes calm, flatwater sections, it also includes Class I, II, III, and IV sections too.

With 58 miles to choose from, and five access points, you must know what you’re getting yourself into before attempting to paddle any section of this river.

Section II of the river is a great place for beginners, as it has sections of calm waters up to Class II.  You can put in just over the border in South Carolina at Earls Ford on your own, or book a trip with local outfitters. Section III offers more excitement with Class III rapids.  This section also includes Bull Sluice, which is a Class IV rapid.

Section IV is the most challenging section, with Class IV rapids throughout.

ON THE UPPER CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER WATER TRAIL

The Upper Chattahoochee River Water Trail starts in White County and ends in Hall County at Clarks Bridge Park. This 36.2-mile trail has six sections that range from flatwater to Class III rapids!

Section 1 starts in the Sautee Valley and has several Class I rapids. Looking for something for everyone? Section 2 is for you! It’s flatwater, with mostly Class I rapids, and one Class II. Section 3 is the most popular section, and features three Class II rapids that get bumped up to Class III’s when the water level is up.

Another section that’s mainly flatwater with some Class I rapids, is Section 4. And Sections 5 and 6 are both flatwater only, with Section 6 taking place completely on Lake Lanier.

There are eight access points along the route, and overnight camping opportunities as well.

OUTFITTERS IN NORTHEAST GEORGIA

  • Tugaloo Bend Heritage Park offers day rentals of kayaks and canoes on Fri, Sat and Sun that include paddles, PFD’s, and a river map with access points and area of interest.
  • Wildwood Outfitters rents single and tandem kayaks, and includes shuttle service.  They serve kayakers who want to tackle the Upper Chattahoochee River Water Trails.
  • Wildwater Rafting offers kayaking tours on Lake Tugaloo and 1- to 3-day clinics on the Chatooga River.
  • Southeastern Expeditions has kayaking clinics for every skill level and group!  They also offer individual and group classes.

KAYAKING IN WEST GEORGIA

ON DUB DENMAN CANOE TRAIL (TALLAPOOSA WATER TRAIL)

The Dub Denman Canoe Trail starts in Tallapoosa, GA, before heading into Alabama and on down to the coast.  The river runs 24 miles through Haralson County, which is where you can find four launch points in Tallapoosa, GA.

One of the most popular routes begins off GA HWY 100, and paddlers can enjoy 4.5 miles of relaxation on the river down to Broad Street.

This is a calm, flatwater route, and is perfect for beginners and families.

ON THE CHATTAHOOCHEE

Columbus has become one of the top destinations for kayakers in the southeast, thanks to its large whitewater kayaking!

There are 2.5 miles of rapids ranging from Class II to Class V.  This course is a must-do for any serious kayaker.

Read More: Wet and Wild Adventure: White Water Rafting in Columbus GA

OUTFITTERS IN WEST GEORGIA

  • Lazy River Outfitters has single and tandem kayak rentals and shuttle service on the Dub Denman Canoe Trail!

KAYAKING IN NORTHWEST GEORGIA

ON THE ETOWAH RIVER WATER TRAIL

The Etowah River Water Trail is a massive trail that spans 163 miles from Lumpkin County to Floyd County.  It passes through Dahlonega, Dawsonville, Cumming, Canton, Cartersville, Euharlee, and Rome.

With so many miles of trail, there is something for everyone.  There are sections of flatwater, Class I, Class II, Class III and an optional Class IV rapid.

OUTFITTERS IN NORTHWEST GEORGIA

  • Euharlee Creek Outfitters in Euharlee offers single and tandem kayak rentals and shuttle services, and offers several different trips that range from 4 miles to 17 miles.  All of their trips are Class I.
  • River Ratz in Rome provides single and tandem kayak rentals at Dixie Landing.  All of their rentals also include shuttle service.

KAYAKING IN SOUTH GEORGIA

ON THE OKEFENOKEE WILDERNESS AREA CANOE TRAILS

Even though they’re technically called canoe trails, kayakers are welcome here too.  Want to get up close and personal with alligators?  This series of water trails are for you!

The Okefenokee Wilderness Area encompasses 400,000 acres of swamp and wetlands.  There are seven clearly-marked flatwater trails to explore.

The Green Trail is marked the easiest, and the 12-mile Red Trail marked the most difficult because the last 11 miles to the west entrances of Stephen C. Foster State Park are narrow and slow-moving.

The Orange Trail is a moderate trail that begins near the main east entrance at the Suwanee Canal Recreation Area and is a 10-mile trail.  The Brown, Purple, Blue, and Pink trails are also considered moderate.

With a permit, paddlers can also spend the night in one of 12 overnight shelters.

ON THE OCHLOCKONEE RIVER WATER TRAIL

Explore this quiet, flatwater trail in southwest Georgia for a peaceful paddle through the cypress trees!

The Ochlockonee River Water Trail is a 66-mile water trail that begins in Colquitt County before traveling through Thomasville, then Grady County, and crossing in to Florida.  This river travels through a bottomland forest, and is filled with sandbars, beaches, and lots of wildlife – watch out for alligators!

This trail is perfect for beginners and experts alike.

Read More: Amazeballs Things To Do in Thomasville GA for an Active Girls Getaway

ON THE WITHLACOOCHEE AND LITTLE RIVER WATER TRAIL

With a distance of almost 160 miles, there is a lot to explore on the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail. This water trail travels through Valdosta, Moultrie, Tifton, and Quitman before heading south into Florida.

These water trails are mostly flatwater trails with some Class I rapids, and are great for experts and beginners alike.  Paddle through the black waters and cypress trees, and enjoy the peaceful scenery of south Georgia.

OUTFITTERS IN SOUTH GEORGIA

  • Okefenokee Adventures offers single and tandem kayak and canoe rentals, including multi-day rentals for overnight trips at the Okefenokee Swamp.  They also offer kayak tours, and shuttle services.
  • CORE has kayak rentals for students, faculty and staff of Valdosta State University.

KAYAKING IN MIDDLE GEORGIA

ON THE OCMULGEE RIVER WATER TRAIL

With 200 miles of water trail, and 23 access points, kayaking Macon’s Ocmulgee River Water Trail in middle Georgia is an awesome experience.

This water trail is great for any type of kayaker – it’s mostly flatwater with some Class I rapids – but nothing a beginner couldn’t handle.  It’s a beautiful trail that winds through downtown Macon, offering unique views of the city.

The addition of Amerson River Park in Macon has really brought renewed interest to kayaking in the area.

Read More: 23+ Magnificent Things To Do in Macon GA You Won’t Want to Miss

ON THE FLINT RIVER

The Flint River is a beast at 344 miles, but there are two popular sections that kayakers love to explore.

The Upper Flint River trip is a 6-mile trip from Sprewell Bluff Outdoor Recreation Area ($5 parking fee), to Albany’s Flint River Outdoor Center. It does have a couple of Class II rapids, but a beginner paddler could manage.

(While in Albany, stop by the Flint RiverQuarium and check out their blue hole spring filled with over 100 mysterious creatures!)

If you’re looking for something longer, the 22-mile Lower Flint River trip might be more your speed.  A beautiful river trip through the cypress and sycamore trees draped with Spanish moss, this south Georgia trip could be accomplished in a day.

Read More: Things To Do in Albany GA: Your Guide to Bountiful Family Fun

OUTFITTERS IN MIDDLE GEORGIA

  • Ocmulgee Outdoor Expeditions offers single kayak and double canoe rentals for either a shorter 2-hour trip or a longer 6-hour trip.  They also offer Full Moon Floats during the full moon, a Boats and Brews tour that includes lunch and beer at the end, and they offer shuttle service if you have your own kayak.

KAYAKING IN GEORGIA FAQ

Can I kayak on Lake Lanier?

Yes, kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding are allowed on Lake Lanier. Kayak fishing is also really popular at Lake Lanier.

What is the life jacket rule in Georgia?

Georgia law requires that all children under 13 years of age wear a USCG–approved PFD while on board any moving vessel. In addition, you must have a life jacket for every person available on your kayak or boat.

Where can I launch my kayak at Lake Lanier?

The Lower Pool Park Boat, Canoe, and Raft Launch provides access to the river for trailered boats, canoes, kayaks, and rafts at Lake Lanier. This launch is located below Buford Dam, which creates Lake Sidney Lanier, and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO GEORGIA

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Kayaking in Georgia: 23+ Unbeatable Spots for Paddlers To Launch