Altamaha River, GA - need info


I am just beginning to plan a trip down the Altamaha River from where it begins (two other rivers combine) to the Atlantic Ocean. Around 140 miles. Plan to do it in 7 days in expedition sea kayaks with experienced long-distance paddlers.

Any info/links appreciated for my research - thanx!

Info needed:

Plan is for February - is that a good month?

Need Shuttle service - any recommendations?

Campsites - assuming most of river will have plenty of sites along sandbars. If anyone knows of specific points, campgrounds, Motels, etc. where to re-supply water, please let me know.

I think the most difficult place to find campsites will be closer to the coast - anyone ever camp on the islands along the Atlantic?

All info, advice appreciated. Would love to talk to someone who has done this.

We have a full roster (sorry) but if someone wants to come along with another group, the more the merrier!


This link might help


Paddle from end to end

– Last Updated: Apr-07-08 8:20 PM EST –

The AJC newspaper did an on line blog of my 512 mile 30 day trip from the headwaters of the Yellow River down the Ocmulgee and the Altamaha to the Atlantic beyond Darien.

Stop and eat at Mud Cat Charlies in Darien. Great place to eat.

I'll see if I can find it but you can e-mail any specific questions to

I wilderness kayaked the river; no motels, carried my food and bathed in the river...with the gators.

Paddlin' on

I think I saw some of your story through my research on-line. We usually do all wilderness camping but if the opportunity for a campground with cabins and/or showers comes along we are not too proud to take advantage of it.

I’m sure I’ll have some questions - especially about the coast like where to camp. Here’s one now:

We want to camp on one of the islands along the Atlantic and then paddle back for pick up next day. Any suggestions appreciated.


Thanks for the link - nice map!

My advice

– Last Updated: Apr-08-08 8:27 PM EST –

is to contact the outfitter in the area. I was in Darien in late May and caught a 5 ft Timber rattler in the river.

The river was about 3' higher than normal from the rain. The next time I paddle this river will be in the summer. I like the heat, sun and clear water.

The river was muddy brown so I took a bath in muddy brown water. Maybe I wasn't clean ...but I didn't smell. All clothes turned a nice tan, including my black Atlanta Olympics t-shirt but it was a great trip.

I didn't see any places on the islands to camp but there may be some. Because of the tides it can be muddy getting out. I was going to paddle out to the ocean and camp overnight then padddle back the next morning but the tide was coming in and the wind was blowing very hard. I got stopped at the last big island, turned around, paddled back to Mud Cat Charlie's in record time and arrived just at dark.

Lots of gators around the islands.

Best of luck and I'll answer anything I can.

Also checkout the St Marys River


I did check out the St Marys River!
I almost changed our trip because we did the entire Suwannee River last year and it is about as good as it gets and the St Marys looks very similar.

I still may change because the Altamaha looks to be very wide and I tend to like the more narrow rivers better. I decided not to change (so far) because I promised the group that this trip will not be a marathon as all our others were. That said, we are planning 20-mile days but with the help of current.

Does the St Marys have significant current? I also read that it is not advisable to start in the swamp but better at Hwy 121 due to low water at times.

Now you got me thinking of changing rivers again! heck, I guess I could put it on the schedule for 2010 - we do one long expedition type trip per year in February.

It is hard to start north of 121 bridge
very few access points and the river is very shallow with lots of pullovers. From the HWY 121 bridge to Traders Hill the current is fairly slow at low to normal water levels. From Traders Hill to HWY 17 bridge the current picks up speed depending on the tides. From HWY 17 bridge to the sea the river changes direction depending on the tides. Tidel flow is probably around 2 to 4 knots. There are few places to camp once you get past Traders Hill.

One more area to look at is the
Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail

I haven’t been there yet but would like to do it one day.

On my list too
Big Bend was our alternate a few years ago when we did the Suwannee - in case the water levels were too low to do the river. We did the Everglades National Park Wilderness Waterway in Feb this year so looking for something with current and a little more relaxing. The waterway was difficult due to our mileage (175 miles in 8 days) but mainly due to the weather being warm and windy and tides not cooperating.

See our trip report and photos:

I’ll do Big Bend or parts of it one day…but this trip will be the Altamaha, I think :slight_smile:

Start before the confluence of the

– Last Updated: Apr-15-08 9:50 AM EST –

ocmulgee and oconee rivers and get some more time on the river. I have never been on the ocmulgee before but i really enjoy the oconee river. we did 38 miles back in march and had a blast, some of the folks i was with enjoyed it more than the suwanee river. appearently you have some free time to be considering this trip so you should take advantage of the access to the oconee river. You can put in below lake sinclair and add another 100 miles or so. in may we are putting in at milledgeville and doing 36 miles down to SR 57.

Thanx for the input.
We’ve only got 8 days and don’t want to turn this into a daily marathon so we’re figuring on starting at Lumber City on the Ocmulgee and then taking the Altamaha all the way to the coast.

I still haven’t found any info on camping close to or along the coast. It looks like all protected areas so we may have to do a day trip out and back from Darien or somewhere nearby.

Loose plan is: Launch at Lumber City; get shuttle back from Darien or other place close to the coast. It will come together as our trip nears (set for Feb, 2009).

Thanks for the info and if anyone knows of places to go/stay/camp/outfitters near the coast and on the Altamaha, please let us know.

If you are going to be in lumber city

– Last Updated: Apr-17-08 1:36 PM EST –

go to Stinsons Barbecue. Its a great way to start a river trip. I read your trip report on the suwanee river and enjoyed it you all have a good time on the altmaha river, just watch our for the altamaha ha. i hear it stalks sea kayaks!

"watch out for the altamaha ha"
If it stalks sea kayaks maybe we’ll call them “river” kayaks for this trip…

Thanks for the tip for eating place. I’ve already committed to eating supper on our first day at Benton Lee’s - around 19 miles out of Lumber City. It seems like everyone is recommending a place to stop to eat while I’ve got little feedback as to where to stay, resupply water, and most of all, what to do as we near the coast (place to camp, etc).

I’ll get the Delorme map book per recommendation by Richard (georgiakayaker)from this message board. He also told me that campsites and water resupply sites are easy to find so no worries there until we near the coast. Thinking of contacting some marinas in the coastal/Darien area to see if they will let us camp on their property.

Anybody think we’re crazy for planning this trip in February? I guess I’ll pack an ice scraper too…

You got balls…& I’m in!

– Last Updated: Apr-18-08 5:21 PM EST –

Just let me know how many extra cans of Beanee Weenees I need to bring.

Appears too wide?
You’re right, its a wide river and I’m like you in that I tend to like the narrower rivers better. Always looking forward to the next bend in the river. I"m located in southeast Georgia and the Altamaha is probably my least favorite. I didn’t say I didn’t like it. But thats just my opinion. If you don’t paddle it then you’ll miss Benton Lee’s!!!

I think we will stick with the Altamaha just for the adventure and something different but I am still looking into the St Marys or even the Suwannee River again. Rather do something different but having a fun/good time is more important.

Maybe you can help:

I’ve asked several people this and still have not received a direct answer:

What kind of current in any does the Altamaha have up near its beginnings (Lumber City, Brenton Lees BBQ)? Is it 1 mph, 2mph, or non-existent?

Towards the coast, I am told there will be tidal influence as we get to Altamaha Park so I guess any current ends near there?

Benton Lee’s isn’t all that far from where I am and the current all depends on the river level. I’ve never seen it stop all together but it gets slow when real low. As far as the speed at various levels I’m afraid I can’t answer that either.

by the way
Looked at your profile and see your from Boca…I grew up in WPB, almost neighbors. Georgia is home now though.