“Travel is smooth and the current is light. Light diffuses and glitters off the waves of our oars. It’s surprising how quickly time goes by. The sounds of the road disappear. All you can hear are the splashes of our paddles as our boats slip through the water,” said Lynn McIntyre about paddling on the Chattahoochee River.
While Atlanta’s river is scenic and serene, the Chattahoochee’s health has not had smooth sailing. McIntyre, senior director of community relations at the Chattahoochee Nature Center, said the Chatta-hoochee serves 3.5 million Georgians and 70% of metro Atlantans, yet is labeled as the country’s most endangered waterway. Disputes between Georgia, Alabama and Florida on how the water is shared and used has led to rough waters, yet organizations like the Chattahoochee Nature Center ensure that the river is protected, and enjoyed.
McIntyre believes that if people can actively enjoy the river, they will be much more likely to advocate for its protection. “When we return from a paddle, it all finally makes sense, we understand in our hearts and in our minds why this river matters to us. Why we are all a part of this watershed and what we do every day makes a difference to the health of our river,” McIntyre said.
The Chattahoochee Nature Center offers River Canoe Trips from June 4 to August 28. A 2 ½ hour paddle with an experienced river guide is only $30 for the general public, $25 for members, and includes all equipment for participants.
“Rivers allow us to connect, while also giving us time to unwind and move with the flow. Enjoying a casual paddle down the Chattahoochee River in a kayak or a canoe, with experienced guides, is a sure cure for the daily stress of life in a big city. You don’t have to travel out of town to find a destination with such calm tranquility,” McIntyre said.
The Chattahoochee Riverkeepers also celebrate the river with an annual Back to the Chattahoo-chee River Race and Festival, which will be held this year on June 11 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting at Garrard Landing Park and Roswell’s Riverside Park. The race has competitive and recreational catego-ries for kayaks, canoes and stand up paddle boards for all ages and skills levels. The free festival in-cludes live music plus an array of exhibits that include local artisans and farmers market vendors.
CRK will host River Discovery, is a series of paddle trips that takes place from June thru August with three trips running the length of the river within the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, from Bowman’s Island to Paces Mill. The River Discovery trip on July 16 will start at the base of the Buford Dam and follows a section of oak hickory forest and prime trout water for nine miles to McGinnis Ferry. The second River Discovery trip on July 23 will start at Jones Bridge. Paddlers might spot river otters and osprey along the nine miles to Island Ford.
Atlantans can float down their local river without organized paddles. Paddle the ‘Hooch above the Morgan Falls Dam near Roswell for an easy, leisurely float on relatively calm water. However below Morgan Falls Dam, the river picks up speed as it flows past Powers Island and enters a section of gen-tle whitewater that continues to the take out point at Paces Mill. A number of local outfitters offer equipment rentals and float packages to get you set up and out on the water. Visit High Country Outfitters, Shoot the Hooch or the Nantahala Outdoor Center for more info on rentals, rates and schedules.