The Chattahoochee River stretches for 48 miles from metro Atlanta northeast to the Lake Lanier and beyond. This particular 4-mile paddle carries you from Roswell to Sandy Springs. A one-way paddle is downstream, but you’ll find the current seems non-existent. If you cease to paddle, you might just stay still.
Shortly after you begin, you’ll pass the Chattahoochee Nature Center on your right. The center is an outlet for education about Chattahoochee’s wildlife and includes a museum, live owls and reptiles, and nature trails that weave through the property.
The river then follows a serpentine curve from west back east as you pass through the pristine beauty of Bull Sluice Lake. The banks of these shores are home to Gold Branch Trail. One more curve brings you to Morgan Falls Dam, a visually unappealing concrete hydroelectric dam. Follow the portage river on the left to bypass the dam and you’ll arrive at Morgan Falls Overlook Park.
What Makes It Great
The paddle itself is mild, without any real shoals or whitewater. The highlight here is Cedar Cliffs, a set of rocky outcrops on the banks. These cliffs are popular among thrillseekers for modest cliff jumping.
Allow time to explore the small coves that are merely bumps on a log compared to Chattahoochee River’s grand scale. Keep your eyes peeled for these off-shoots and take them with caution. They are plentiful around Bull Sluice Lake, where you’ll be able to see hikers on Gold Branch Trail, and in warm weather, dogs frolicking through the banks. Some of these coves are shallow and no more than a marsh, while others offer the solace of shaded trees that make for a peaceful paddle break.
The wildlife is plentiful on the Chattahoochee River. Paddlers will frequently find ducks floating beside you down the river, as if a magnet has drawn them to your float. The banks are heavy with foliage, and this is where you’ll see blue herons wading in the shallow waters and turtles basking on logs.
Who is Going to Love It
Paddlers who want to get in a fun day on the river without too much work. Wildlife lovers are also in for a treat in this area!
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Azalea Park is one of the most convenient put-ins on the river- you can be in the water in 20 feet from your parking spot. The lot offers immediate access from the road, and parking is free. Full bathroom facilities, picnic tables, grills and a boat ramp make Azalea Park a one-stop outdoor destination. On weekends, parking may be limited and you could have to park on the shoulder of the road.
Shoot the Hooch is located at this park, where you can rent kayaks or canoes, and they offer shuttles to different launch locations on the river. Ample parking is available at Morgan Falls Overlook Park so that you can leave a take-out vehicle here. Be aware that the lower Morgan Falls boat launch involves hauling your kayak or canoe uphill on a long, paved path. A portage is useful for transportation. Morgan Falls has bathroom facilities, picnic tables and a playground, which makes it a nice post-paddle picnic area.
The Chattahoochee River is heavily patrolled, so be sure to wear a life preserver or have one in reach while you’re on the water.
Before paddling, check the water release schedule here.