Just a few miles east of the Outlet Mall extravaganza in Dawsonville, Ga, awaits a serene 9 mile section of the Etowah River that flows through the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area owned by the City of Atlanta.
Like on many north Georgia rivers, Great Blue Herons, wild turkeys, and Kingfishers are frequently spotted as well as deer, Wood Ducks, Red-tail Hawks, and occasionally otters and beavers. Anglers have also reported excellent fishing for River Catfish, Red Eyed Bass, and Bream.
The Etowah River runs for 164 miles beginning northwest of Dahlonega, Ga and eventually flowing into Lake Allatoona.
A popular day trip (approx. 4 hours) is a 9 mile run that travels through the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area. You can split this trip up by opting for primitive camping in the forest.
Put-in: From Atlanta, take GA 400 North to the North GA Premium Outlet Mall in Dawsonville. Turn left onto Dawson Forest Road. Drive 4 Miles to Highway 9 and turn right. The put in is 1/5 mile ahead on the left. Parking is free and the park offers a nice boat ramp, restroom facilities and picnic table.
Take-Out: On Highway 9, drive South 1.6 miles. Turn right on A.T. Moore Road, go about 1 mile and take slight right on Kelly Bridge Road. Continue for 6 miles until you cross the bridge over the Etowah and park in field on the right. There is a very nice boat ramp making the take-out easy. This is private property and requires a $3 fee per person – envelopes available at the gate.
Often the locals will refer to the “radiation caves” located along the river. In the 1950’s this area was owned by the U.S. government who had a secret nuclear facility on the property. You can still see the remaining bridge abutments and hot cell building. Read more about the history and urban legends.
This Youtube video includes pictures and maps of the facility.
Whether you enjoy paddling, tubing or fishing – many recreational options await you less than an hour from Atlanta.
The Chestatee River in Dahlonega, GA is a favorite for first-time or seasoned paddlers. If boating isn’t your thing you can always take a tube float or try some fishing. The river features some beautiful scenery, fun Class I & II rapids and is teaming with wildlife. Blue herons, wild turkeys, and kingfishers are frequently spotted as well as ospreys, otters and occasionally beavers.
The Chestatee River is a major tributary of the Chattahoochee River, which begins at the confluence of Dicks Creek and Frogtown Creek in northern Lumpkin County and continues for 50 miles where it eventually spills into Lake Lanier.
A popular day trip (approx. 3 hours) is a 6 mile run that travels around a mountain with put-ins and take-out located along Highway 19/60. From Atlanta, travel north on Georgia 400 until it ends in Dahlonega then turn right on Highway 19/60. map
Take-Out: Located on Highway 19/60 about ¼ mile north of Georgia 400. This is a new facility offering plenty of free parking, complete with bathroom and changing areas.
Put-in: Highway 19/60 about 3 miles north of the take-out. Parking information listed under the outfitter listings.Alternate Put-in @ Highway 52: From the put-in head north on Hwy 60 then east on Highway 52. The road for the put-in is located on the right before the bridge. This adds another four miles to the trip if you take out just north of Georgia 400. Putting your crafts in the river could prove a little challenging due to the very steep incline. After you put in, you will paddle through residential areas and a golf course – be wary of flying golf balls.
Chestatee River Adventures – Catamarans (aka angler kayaks) $25. Tube rentals $5. Shuttle service for your personal craft - $5. Parking is also available for $5 – please call 770-540-9950 for more information. Appalachian Outfitters – Tube rental $6, kayaks and canoe rentals - $28-$48. Shuttle Service $10. Please call 706.867.7116 or 800.426.7116.
Want More Adventure? Class II+ rapid action happens in the upper section of the Chestatee near Turners Corner – to learn more visit American Whitewater