Kayaking the Chestatee
The dog days of summer have descended upon north Georgia over the past few weeks. I’ve also been working in metro Atlanta most weeks and have been sick, so it’s been a struggle to get out and hike during the week. When I’m in Atlanta, I typically try to hike along the Chattahoochee near the perimeter, but when I finish work around 4:30 pm we’re often experiencing 95 degree heat with high humidity. Some days it just isn’t safe to hike, but since I’ve spent every summer of my life in the south I also know it’s really lame to sit inside all day.
So recently I took the opportunity to go kayaking with some folks from Girls Who Hike GA. I can't say enough about how great this group is! Even though I love being by myself, sometimes it's nice to get out with other people. We launched from Appalachian Outfitters along the Chestatee River in Dahlonega. They are very convenient to use whether you bring your own kayak or rent one from them. They also do tube rentals. Most of the folks in our group brought their own kayaks. If this is the case, you can bring your kayak to the outfitters, drive to the take out point and leave the car, then the staff will bring you back to the starting point. It costs $10 for this service. It was $28 to rent a kayak with paddle, life vest, and transportation back to the outfitters included. Check online for further information and other excursion options.
The Chestatee was a little muddled the day we were there due to heavy rains early in the week, but it was still pretty and has some nice scenery along the banks. It’s a pretty slow flowing river, so how long it takes to get to the take out point depends on how much you actually paddle. The stretch of river we did is about 6 miles long, which allowed for plenty of relaxation and socializing. There is a pebble filled sandbar about half way, which is is a good stopping point for lunch or just to chill out for a bit. Along the latter stretch of river, there are some Class 1 rapids that are easy to manage. I did get hung up on some rocks in shallow water but I bailed and pulled the kayak over with no problem. We also saw lots of turtles (probably 30+), some birds, and a snake along the way.
At the take out point, staffers load up rental boats and equipment and then shuttle you back to the outfitter to your car. The take out point is the public access area of the Chestatee closer to GA-400. If you have your own car, obviously it’s right there and you can carry on your way. Back at the outfitter, there are modest bathroom facilities and a shop with t-shirts and other items. Of course, in Dahlonega, there are plenty of places downtown to grab food, drinks, or shop around. I chose to take a bonus trip to Preacher’s Rock. After being sick the week before and spending a few hours in the hot sun (despite being on the water), I did not have a lot of energy so a short, sweet hike was in order.
I’ve written about Preacher’s Rock before, so I won’t rehash it completely here. Use the search feature or tag at the bottom of the post to find more info on this beautiful hike. The weather was gorgeous and there were tons of yellow wildflowers and butterflies near the summit, which made for some pretty fun pictures. All in all, I had a great, fun-filled day in Dahlonega!