Georgia: Toccoa River
Location: The Toccoa River’s primary paddling routes are near the town of Blue Ridge in northwest Georgia.
Difficulty: The Toccoa is a Class I and II river —with one II+ rapid — and provides training opportunities for beginning whitewater paddlers. It is best suited for canoes or long kayaks because of its flatwater stretches. Flowing through expanses of national forest, the river can be remote and travelers should be well-prepared.
How to access: The 13.8-mile Toccoa River Canoe Trail begins at Deep Hole Recreation Area in Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, which has a $5 launch and parking fee, and ends at Sandy Bottoms, an access point maintained by the U.S. Forest Service with a $3 parking charge. From Sandy Bottoms, paddlers can travel another seven miles to the tailwaters of Lake Blue Ridge at Tilley Bend.
Fun Facts: The Toccoa and the Ocoee are the same north-flowing river — the waterway just changes names at the state line. In Tennessee, the Ocoee is known for its rapids and was the site of the whitewater slalom events in the 1996 Olympics.
Local Champion: Georgia River Network is a statewide nonprofit organization that advocates for clean water policies and helps create and promote paddle trails like the one on the Toccoa.
More info: To plan a trip on the Toccoa, search for the river on the American Whitewater website or visit garivers.org/toccoa-river-canoe-trail. — M.M.
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