The Chattahoochee River is by far the most popular place for paddling in and around Atlanta. Whether you’re looking for a flatwater paddle above the dam, or a white water paddle below it, the Chattahoochee has something for you. The stretch from Johnson Ferry to Columns Drive is below the dam, and full of shoals, making for some class I rapids. This area is great for beginners, or anyone looking for a good run close to the city.
What Makes It Great
The flow from Johnson Ferry to Powers Island is very smooth, devoid of excessive rocks and shoaled areas. This is a very relaxing part of the run. On either side, you’ll see beautiful houses all along the riverbanks,and a variety of wildlife. Turtles and herons are both very common in the area, and so are carp that can often be seen jumping out of the water. Shortly after you pass Powers Island, you’ll come upon Devil’s Racecourse: an area consisting of several islands to dodge, and almost continuous shoals. Here is where you’ll find your class I rapids, and where the fun really begins. If you’re new to the sport, or trekking it solo, you’ll be comforted to know that the area is usually highly trafficked and patrolled by rangers, so there are typically people around to help if you run into trouble. During the warm summer months, watch out for tubers, especially on the weekends, as the river becomes one large tubing party. If you go earlier in the mornings during this time of year, you’ll be dodging far less tubes.
Who is Going to Love It
Paddlers of all level looking for modest whitewater.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
For this route, you’ll be putting in at a parking lot off Johnson Ferry, complete with a boat ramp and bathrooms. This area is part of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, so be sure to pay the daily $3 for parking, or acquire an annual parking pass for $35. You will need two cars for this run; park the other at Whitewater Creek Park (East Palisades). This area also charges $3 daily without an annual pass.