The best ways to float Atlanta's rivers and lakes

  • Eric Champlin
  • For the AJC
Updated March 09, 2017
Eric Champlin
Stone Mountain Lake is clear and calm, with over 300 acres to explore.

Beat the heat and explore the metro area's scenic outdoors in a new way: kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard (SUP) at one of Atlanta's nearby lakes or rivers.

Chattahoochee River

The Chattahoochee offers miles of river trails ready for exploration. Paddle the 'Hooch above the Morgan Falls Dam near Roswell for an easy, leisurely float on relatively calm water. Along the way, you'll likely spot wildlife, like ducks, geese, turtles and heron, that call the river's calm waters home.

For a bit more action, paddle the Hooch below Morgan Falls Dam. The river picks up speed as it flows past Powers Island and enters a section of gentle whitewater that continues to the take out point at Paces Mill. Navigate some of the Chattahoochee River's most turbulent currents in the metro area as you float or paddle through the boulder-strewn white water shoals.

» RELATED: 5 easy hikes to Atlanta's hidden waterfalls

Yellow River

The Yellow River water trail meanders more than 50 miles in metro Atlanta, flowing through Gwinnett, Dekalb, Rockdale and Newton counties before spilling into Lake Jackson. The Yellow River offers put-in and take-out points every four to six miles, offering a variety of trip lengths and intensities. Watch for wildlife including, deer, ducks, geese and heron as you float some of Atlanta's most scenic waters.

Stone Mountain Lake

Paddle Stone Mountain Lake's 300+ acres by canoe, kayak or SUP. You'll get a unique perspective of Stone Mountain's iconic domed mountain as it reflects on the lake's surface. Stone Mountain Lake is a popular location for SUP yoga enthusiasts; the tranquil and scenic setting offers a perfect place to perfect your downward dog and practice your balance while you float the lake's calm surface. Remember, there’s a daily $15 entrance fee for the park. Get an annual pass and save a lot if you’ll be visiting more than twice in a year’s time.

George H. Sparks Reservoir at Sweetwater Creek State Park

Paddle the rambling shoreline of the George H. Sparks Reservoir upstream from the mill ruins and rapids on Sweetwater Creek. The park offers guided canoe, kayak and SUP tours as well as introductory classes if you're new to paddle sports, and offers rentals for veteran paddlers.

» RELATED: Take a trip back in time with these 4 ruins near Atlanta

Paddling outfitters

Not sure where to begin, or need some equipment? A number of local outfitters offer equipment rentals and float packages to get you set up and out on the water. Visit High Country OutfittersShoot the Hooch or the Nantahala Outdoor Center for more info on rentals, rates and schedules. Also make sure to check out our favorite local outdoor stores.

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