|What to Do|
|Where to Stay|
|Where to Dine|
|Where to Shop|
|Visitor Resources & Deals|
|Canoe, Kayak, Rafting|
The Etowah and the Chestatee Rivers near Dahlonega provide enjoyable and challenging canoeing and kayaking with predominately Class I and II rapids. Before planning trips on these rivers you should consult persons knowledgeable about the water levels.
Kayak, Canoe and Tube Rentals
Also check out Appalachian Outfitters to obtain river water level information
Chestatee River Adventures
About 50 to 60 miles from Dahlonega are two world famous rivers, the Ocoee River in Copperhill, Tennessee and the Chattooga River near Clayton, Georgia. These rivers feature canoeing, kayaking and rafting.
Chestatee is derived from the Cherokee word for "fire light place" referred to because of night hunting by the Cherokees on the river using torch light (see note). When gold hungry settlers came, the Cherokees were forced west of the Chestatee and then on the "trail of tears". Since that time the Chestatee has been panned, dammed, logged, and dredged into a different river than the Cherokees once knew. Between the Old Copper Mine on Copper Mine Road and the Lumpkin County Park on Lake Lanier, 3 highways cross over the Chestatee River offering trips of different distances and excitement.
The first section between the Old Copper Mine and Hwy 52 is 4.8 miles (2 to 4 hours) and is for those who have practiced Class I's and are ready to try a few Class II's but don't mind getting wet trying.
The second section between Hwy. 52 and Appalachian Outfitters Outpost near Hwy. 60 is 3.5 miles (1-2 hours) and very gentle. Perfect for family outings with young children.The third section between Hwy 60 and Hwy 400 is 6.3 miles (2-3 hours). Good for first time paddlers, groups, and families.
There are several fun but gentle rapids near the beginning and end of the trip and great scenery along the way with good fishing.The fourth section between Hwy 400 and Lumpkin County Park on Lake Lanier is 3 miles (1.5-2 hours). This flat gentle water with good scenery and good fishing. This section is also great for group outings for moonlight trips.The first section can be reached from Dahlonega by taking Hwy. 52E 5.5 miles to Coppermine Road. Turn left and reach the bridge across the Chestatee an the Old Copper Mine. The second section can be reached by the same route stopping at the bridge on Hwy. 52E 4 miles from town.
The third section can be reached by taking Hwy 60S 1.5 miles from town. You will pass Appalachian Outfitters on the right. The fourth section starts at the Hwy. 400 bridge at the intersection of Hwy. 400 and Hwy 60. The Lumpkin County Park on Lake Lanier can be reached off of Hwy. 400 by turning by Hardy's Ford at the Lumpkin County Industrial Park and following the signs.The information about the Chestatee and Etowah rivers was provided by Appalachian Outfitters in Dahlonega, GA.
The Etowah River is named after Etowah Mounds, the historic "capital" of the Cherokee nation. The name Etowah has been changed in some cases to "Hightower". The actual meaning of Etowah is not known. (See note)
Between Highway 52W and Highway 136 the river mileage is about 16.4 miles. The trip can be split into two sections of 8.2 miles each by either taking out or putting in at Castleberry Bridge. Putting in at Highway 9 and taking out at Castleberry Bridge is a 5.9 mile trip. Starting at Hwy. 52W the trip begins quite peacefully, but soon challenges you with numerous Class I and II rapids most of which you will find after an easy portage around Etowah Falls.
Between Castleberry Bridge and Hwy. 136 the Etowah is perfect for introducing the novice paddler to easy Class II rapids, most of which are in the beginning of the trip. The river mellows out considerably after passing by a mysterious tunnel created during Dahlonega's "gold rush days".
To reach the Etowah River on Highway 52 follow 52W from Dahlonega for 6 miles to the bridge. To reach the beginning of the second section follow Hwy. 9 from Dahlonega for 4 miles. To reach the Castleberry bridge follow Hwy. 9 for 1.5 miles to Hwy. Old 9E. Turn left and follow Old 9E 4 miles to Auraria. Turn right on Castleberry Bridge Rd. and go 1 mile to the bridge.
The information about the Chestatee and Etowah rivers was provided by Appalachian Outfitters in Dahlonega, GA.