Cestatee/Etowah Rivers

-- Last Updated: Apr-20-06 5:56 PM EST --

We are planning a trip Memorial Day weekend to Dahlonga Georgia and plan on going on one or both rivers. The wife saw the photos of the Etowah (on Applachian Outfitters site) and says no, the kids can't go on it, but the Chestatee looks ok. The kids (girl 12/boy 9) both, kept looking at Etowah and saying "cool". I think they (me and the kids) should be ok but would like to know from someone who's been on it. We are beginners, in a Penobscot 16.

The lower Chestatee is OK, starting on
hwy 60 and ending by a bridge under the beginning of 400. Access to the Middle Chestatee is messed up by a landowner, and the class 2++ Blasted Rocks (named by me) is too messy for beginners.

So far, water levels have been rather low in north Georgia. This cuts down on the options around Dahlonega. Another one NOT to do is the upper Amicalola. If you don’t mind driving a little ways, there is a run along the lower Toccoa that isn’t too hard.

The Etowah has been too low. Some of the class 2s are tricky, and you have to portage a waterfall in the middle of the run. The next section, the so-called mine tunnel section, actually takes MORE water to run comfortably than the first section.

The Appalachian Outfitters people in Dahlonega can help you out a lot.

water levels
I’ve never done the Chestatee (though it is on my list of places to go). I have paddled both stretchs of the Etowah that the previous posted mentioned with both good water levels and low water levels. I can attest that the low water levels are not fun.

The section above the portage he mentioned has a short section of challenging (for a beginner) shoals as I remember it.

I’ve paddled through the “mine tunnel” but believe if I had a nine year old with me I’d paddle the river bend and skip the tunnel.

The early challenge on the Etowah
is a messy class 2 called Chuck Shoals. Possibly the trickiest rapid is right at the end of the first section, called S-turn, but it’s no big deal.

It is almost impossible to scout the mine tunnel for wood prior to going through. However, given where the tunnel is placed, the likelihood of wood getting in there is not great. The way I dealt with it, was I went to the EXIT of the tunnel, and waded up the tunnel, towing my little 13’ open boat. Wading gives much more time to savor the experience, including the round skylight. When I got to the little class 1 rapid, my eyes had adapted considerably. I got in the boat and so got to paddle about 3/4 of the length of the tunnel. Others in my party also waded up the tunnel without difficulty.

Seen the pictures of both
on Applachian Outfitters web site. Called them today after I checked the water level, it’s 1.3 on the Chestatee, but they said it’s still decent but should be better by end of May. The place we may stay, Etowah River Campground, is along a slower strech of the Etowah so we will have a chance to check it out there. Will most likely end up just canoeing the Chestatee. Will be going with brother-in-law so we could take turns on the shoals while the other watches the kids on the bank.