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North Georgia Kayaking: Best Places to Kayak Near Ellijay

If you love kayaking along a beautiful river, the Blue Ridge mountains provide a stunning spot for a weekend trip or an extended time away from the usual routine.


You can find numerous inviting lakes that offer a gentle exploration opportunity. Whitewater rapids are also available, along with options between those two difficulties.


Here are the best spots to enjoy within a quick drive from Ellijay, GA.


Fort Mountain State Park

You’ll discover beautiful water trails when visiting this stunning location in the Cohutta Wilderness off Highway 52. It offers a calm place where you can relax and go at your own pace.


The 17-acre lake provides a pristine experience, and you can stop for a swim after. Rentals are available if kayaking is something you’d like to try.


If you love fishing from your kayak, you’ll find this destination offers the perfect experience. Don’t forget to grab your license before casting a line!


Difficulty Level: 1.0 out of 5.0.

More info on Fort Mountain State Park


Cartecay River

The Cartecay River provides some exciting opportunities for whitewater adventures. You’ll want to be prepared to get wet if you take on this North Georgia kayaking adventure! It’s meant more for those with some experience in difficult waters.


It offers Class I, Class II, and Class III rapids, offering quick speeds at some points to get the adrenaline going.


The river stretches for over 19 miles, running into Ellijay with its course. You’ll find a confluence area in town where the rivers meet to form the Coosawattee River. The waters grow calm as the journey proceeds, providing the right combination of relaxation and energy.


Difficulty Level: 3.25 out of 5.0.


Ellijay River

When you prefer a floating experience on a mountain river, the Ellijay River delivers the perfect lazy opportunity to let an afternoon drift away. You can use any kayak style on this body of water, including the sit-on-top model, to let the current take you where you want to go.


You’ll want to exit the river before the confluence area to ensure you’re comfortable with the floating experience.


The Ellijay River starts at Goose Island Lake, taking you along a 15-mile course that passes vineyards, a golf course, and beautiful natural wonders.


There’s a small reservoir dam at Kell’s Creek, so you have the option to enter at Ellijay River Vineyards.


Difficulty Level: 1.5 out of 5.0


Carters Lake

You’ll encounter a beautiful tract of Blue Ridge Mountain scenery when taking your kayak to this reservoir lake. The waters are almost always sparkling, while the rugged shoreline offers numerous exploration opportunities.


The lake offers over 3,200 surface acres for you to paddle with your kayak. At its deepest point, it reaches 450 feet. There aren’t any private docks along the 62 miles of natural shoreline, and the marina is open throughout the year.


Difficulty Level: 0.5 out of 5.0.


Chestatee River

This gorgeous river runs through the northern part of our state. It flows through the gold rush town of Dahlonega, eventually taking you underneath the 400 if you follow it long enough.


When you get south of Dahlonega, a couple of Class I and a single Class II area provide some extra excitement. You’ll spend more time watching the wildlife during your trip as the gentle waters let you float.


It can get a bit shallow in some spaces, especially during summer. You’ll want to avoid the areas with larger rocks to avoid bottoming out. There’s a sign at Lumpkin County Park to indicate where you’ll want to get out of the water.


Difficulty Level: 2.0 out of 5.0.


Ocoee River

If you want more of a kayaking adventure, consider a trip to the Ocoee River while staying in Ellijay. Although it takes about 60 minutes to get there, it’s the best chance to enjoy Class IV rapids. You’ll also find a wide range of whitewater opportunities, which makes the extra distance worthwhile for avid kayakers.


The waters of the Ocoee can be powerful and intense, but they are reasonably predictable. You’ll need to manage waves, holes, and constricted passages.


This river is divided into two sections. The upper portion was used in the 1996 Olympic slalom course for kayakers, while the middle section has four miles of Class III and Class IV rapids to navigate.


Difficulty Level: 4.0 out of 5.0


When you’re ready to get out on the water, be sure to book your stay at Ellijay River House - North Georgia Bed and Breakfast. Our proximity to all these top kayaking locations ensures you’ll spend less time traveling to each adventure. We can’t wait to see you!