Paddling Guide – Tackling the Chattahoochee River with a Kayak

Offering an amazing 48 miles of waterway, the Chattahoochee River National Water Trail is a paradise for rafters, canoers, paddlers, kayakers and motor-boaters all year round. With a total length of 430 miles, the Chattahoochee River has promises an adventure unlike any other, but only if you know how to navigate your way down stream.


Luckily, that’s where this handy guide comes in. In this post, we’ll be covered all the need-to-know info a paddler could need to plan an amazing kayaking adventure down the Chattahoochee.


Chattahoochee River- Fast Facts

River Length:                          430 miles

Average Trip Duration:          2-3 days, depending on your pace and objective

Paddling Difficulty:                Easy

Number of Access Points:      17

Average Water Speed:            3 miles per hour, although water conditions are generally slow and                                                                     placid year round.


Before You Paddle

  • Seeing that the Chattahoochee River has a really slow current, this is NOT the place to head to if you want to cover a long distance and don’t have the stamina to push yourself (or your paddling partner) through it.
  • Make sure that you’ve checked out the floating times between one destination and another before you launch.
  • Accept and embrace the fact that the river requires a lot of hard traveling to really get somewhere. While you might not need expert paddling skills, you will need endurance to embark on a long-distance trip.
  • Entry and exit times to and from the river are restricted between dusk and dawn, so make sure you’ve checked the sunrise and sunset times before you head off to your trip.
  • Camping along the islands in the middle of the river is possible, albeit its risky business since water levels can rise unexpectedly overnight and setting up camp might not be the easiest of tasks.
  • The Chattahoochee isn’t known for being super clean. Make sure you’ve checked the E.coli levels of the water before taking that dip!
  • Authorities do check for fishing licenses and life jackets, so make sure that you’ve got both sorted.



The Trip at a Glance

The Chattahoochee River boasts 17 access points which come in the form of ramp and launch sites, which means that you really have a lot of options as far as launching goes.

Launching at Abbott’s Bridge is a great idea but you might be bothered by a little early morning fog. Nonetheless, this area has a beautiful shoreline that has to be seen.

Azalea Park makes for a great stop where you can rest up and have a quick picnic.

Atlanta Water Works poses a potential hazard since it’s one of the most challenging parts of the river. It’s also close to where “treated” water re-enters the river, so it’s advisable to assume the nose-pinching position while you’re in the area.


Your Camping Options

Camping grounds like the Chattahoochee Bend State Park and Bluff Creek Campground provide safe camping spots for paddlers embarking on an overnight tour. There are also various cabins located along the river’s edge which can be rented for overnight accommodation.


When Is The Best Time To Go?

There isn’t really an “ideal” time of the year to plan a paddling trip on the Chattahoochee. The water is cold year round thanks to the influence from Lake Sydney. The summer months bring unpredictable weather with them, so keep in mind that the weather might go from extremely hot during the daytime to severely stormy scenarios, which can easily capsize a kayak.


What about Parking?

Day-trippers can park their vehicles at Chattahoochee National Park at a fee of $3 per day. Unfortunately, no overnight parking is permitted in the area. The other parking spot can be found at Jones Bridge, and costs $2 per day. If you’re looking for a free parking spot, try Don White Park as an alternative.


The Case of Rapids

While the Chattahoochee River’s waters are mainly steady and easy to paddle, there are a few rapids, which fall under class 1 and 2, and they’re located around the Powers Island area.


The Scoop on Wild Animals

The Chattahoochee River banks aren’t home to dangerous animals, but do keep in mind that coyote sightings near the campgrounds aren’t a rare occurrence.



Need More Info?

We’ve tried our best to make this guide as conclusive as can be, but we know that some folks always need a little more info in order to plan things down to a T. Here are a few links worth checking out:

  • This video shows what conditions can be like on the Chattahoochee River.
  • This article provides helpful info on the floating times between destinations on the Chattahoochee.
  • If you’re keen on renting a cabin for the night, you can visit this site.
  • If you’re looking a kayak, this is a great source.
  • These guys do guided Chattahoochee trips.
  • This map indicates launching points in the area.
  • This is a pretty nifty source which can help you plan your trip based on the local weather conditions.
  • You can use this link to check the water’s bacteria level before heading out.


So that’s a wrap on our guide. The Chattahoochee River is immense to say the least, and multi-day trips are best left for those with serious stamina. We hope that this guide has given you an idea of where to start and how to plan your route. As always folks, remember that it’s all about the experience. Plan your adventure and make sure you see the Hooch for all its worth!