Though you may not strike it rich, in most cases the wealth is in the experience! While you can usually pan no more than a few cents worth of gold in an hour, there's always a chance of finding a stray nugget. Recreational panning for gold in most streambeds is allowed. Special permission, permits, or fees are not required when only a shovel and pan are used and no significant damage is done to the streambed. In-stream sluices and suction dredges are not allowed.
Contact the Blue Ridge Ranger District office at (706) 745-6928 to determine whether the mineral rights of a stream are publicly or privately owned or if any restrictions have been placed on the stream.