Earlier this year I write a post about Must-Do Adventures in Georgia for Kids. A Facebook fan contacted me and told me that I missed one very important adventure – snorkeling in the Conasauga! It was immediately added to the bucket list, but without wet suits in the cold river water, we waited until July 4th weekend to set out.
The cool factor? Clear mountain waters are home to over 70 different species of fish! This is the most biodiverse river basin the world!! A small pool of water smaller than the size of a football field becomes a living underwater classroom.
- Use your GPS to get to Cisco, Ga. It’s here that my cell service stopped, so you’ll want to print out these directions and use the odometer.
- Once in Cisco, turn right onto Old Hwy 2. If you are heading North on 411, you’ll see the turn almost immediately upon entering the small town. A gas station will be on your left (it has a red awning,) and a stone church is on your right. The street immediately before the red church is Old Hwy 2.
- Follow the road for 7.8 miles. It will change from paved to gravel during this time. During this 7.8 miles you will pass a church and a bridge. At the bridge over the river you are about a half-mile from your next junction.
- At 7.8 miles the road splits. There is a sign directing you to four different landmarks. All the arrows point right. Nothing points straight ahead. Do not turn right; just keep going straight. I promise it’s correct. Just trust me.
- Go .7 miles to a steel bridge where the road ends. Take a left. You’ll be driving through a camping area.
- At .5 miles the parking area is down a slope to the left.
Park in the lot here. There are a few picnic tables if you want to enjoy lunch, but you can’t really see the river from here. To the left is a small muddy path that leads to the snorkeling pool. It’s only about 1/10 of a mile walk.
At the pool there is plenty of space to spread out. Bring some snacks, your gear, etc. Whatever you do, though, please pack out what you pack in. I was saddened by the amount of trash in this area.
Time to don your snorkel and get in the water. You’ll want to move slowly, as some of the fish can be timid at first. Other fish are no stranger to people and immediately started to nibble our feet.
We visited just after a hard rain spell, which I advise against. We still saw plenty of fish and had a great time, but the water was a little more hazy than normal. It was also more rough than normal, making it difficult to keep our balance out in the center of the stream. We strapped our oldest in a life vest even though we kept him close, and our youngest only went up to his knees. According to all counts we have read, it isn’t normally like this, so plan your trip accordingly based on the ages of your kiddos.
Another note is the water temp. It can be dangerous to do this in spring, fall or winter. The water temps are jsut too cold. Opt for late July or August. If you have a wetsuit, it doesn’t hurt to bring it, although you don’t need one to enjoy this adventure. We all brought water shoes, as well. I recommend it!
There is a sign at the shore with photos of dozens of fish. It’s fun to try and identify the ones you see in the water.
Down stream only a few hundred yards are rapids. Several people put in kayaks while we were there. They are far enough downstream to not be an issue, as long as you are mindful. The sound, however, is perfection.
There is a port-o-potty on site. Bring plenty of water and snacks, because there are no other options, and snorkeling makes for hangry kiddos.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the Georgia Conservancy here. They offer directions (see my notes above, though,) a video and other information on their site. If you’d like a guide, you can also organize an adventure through them for $20 per person.
If you enjoy this adventure, we’d love to see your photos! Please let us know!!
After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.