From the raging rapids of Tallulah Gorge to the serene Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia has paddling experiences for all skill levels. Canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and aquacycles may be rented seasonally at more than 20 state parks, and visitors may also bring their own boats.
Fort Mountain, Vogel and Unicoi rent equipment for paddling their small mountain lakes. These are good locations for beginners to practice paddling skills.
Visitors at Fort McAllister can rent canoes to explore Redbird Creek with its sawgrass, fiddler crabs and occasional dolphins. Paddlers who bring their own boats to Crooked River can enjoy abundant wildlife and the shortest route to Cumberland Island National Seashore (across the Intracoastal Waterway). Boaters should check tidal charts and weather before exploring, otherwise they could become stranded until the next high tide. Strong currents and wind can make coastal kayaking challenging.
While there are numerous whitewater rivers throughout north Georgia, Tallulah Gorge is the only state park to feature whitewater kayaking. The first two weekends of April and first three weekends of November are when the dam’s water release is high enough for this activity. Boaters must be quite skilled to tackle Oceana, Bridal Veil and the other falls. Spectators will find the best views from the new Inspiration Point overlook, #1 North Rim overlook and #9 South Rim overlook.
Stephen C. Foster is the western entrance to the famed Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. It features more “open” water than the grassy plains of the eastern entrance. Rent canoes or kayaks to explore Minnie’s Lake, Billy’s Island or “the narrows.” Alligators, deer, ibis, heron and egrets are commonly seen within the swamp. Reed Bingham, George L. Smith, Magnolia Springs, Laura S. Walker and Little Ocmulgee also have pretty lakes where Spanish moss, cypress trees and lily pads reflect off the dark water.
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