Spending time outside is always beneficial regardless of what you are doing. The great outdoors has a lot to offer and it does not take long to be reminded of all the splendor and beauty that nature has in store. While regular walks and hikes are fun and relaxing, there is a whole other world of outdoor activities to be enjoyed.
It is more fun, and more diverse, and it never gets old. Those would be water-based activities, also called water sports, where one utilizes various tools, toys, and equipment in order to enjoy in or on the water. Some of them are quite common and everyone knows about them. Swimming, diving, and snorkeling are quite common and so are simple games that involve ball throwing.
However, kayaking and canoeing are a whole other story. Utilizing a small personal paddle boat allows you to traverse bodies of water and enjoy all that comes with it. But where is the right way to do it, how should one approach it, and what is there to know about these activities? Before you start, you have to get the answers to these questions. In this article here we talk about these very things, particularly about the “where” as we explore the kayaking and canoeing potential of Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
About Kayaking and Canoeing
Kayaking and canoeing are both water sports that involve propelling a small boat through the water using paddles. Some of them have pedals but most kayaks and canoes are operated by a single or double paddle, also called an oar. While they share some similarities, there are also some important differences between the two activities, enough to make them two different types of vessels.
Kayaking involves sitting in a small, narrow boat that is propelled forward using a double-bladed paddle. Kayaks are usually designed for one or two people, although there are some larger models that can accommodate more. Kayaking can be done on calm or rough waters and there are several different styles of kayaking like recreational, touring, and whitewater kayaking.
Of course, there are also different types of kayaks used for all of these different styles and surroundings. There are many differences between kayaks made for whitewater rafting and those meant for the open waters.
Canoeing involves sitting in a larger and wider boat, the canoe, which is usually propelled forward using a single-bladed paddle. Canoes are typically designed for two or more people, although there are also solo models available. Canoeing can be done on calm or rough waters, and there are several different styles of canoeing.
While not as versatile in styles or vessel types as kayaking, canoeing still has many nuances and can be done in more than one way. It is a very old way of navigating waterways as most Native American tribes used canoes to explore and hunt.
Differences and Similarities
In terms of technique, kayaking, and canoeing require different types of paddling strokes. In kayaking, the paddler uses a double-bladed paddle and alternates strokes on either side of the boat to maintain forward momentum and balance. On the other hand, in canoeing, the paddler uses a single-bladed paddle and typically paddles only on one side of the boat at a time by using a “J-stroke” to keep the canoe moving straight.
Both paddling boats are frequently used to enhance other activities like camping, fishing, or hunting. This makes them even more popular because they allow different approaches and tactics to the established way of doing things.
Both kayaking and canoeing offer a great way to enjoy the outdoors and explore bodies of water especially if you only want recreation and a good way to spend time on the water. They can be done alone or with friends or family and are a great way to get exercise and fresh air.
However, it is important to have the proper equipment and training before setting out on the water, especially if you plan to tackle more challenging conditions such as whitewater or rough seas. No matter which you choose and where you go, you must have a life jacket, a survival kit, dry clothes, and food and beverages.
About Atlanta and Georgia
So now that you are familiar with kayaking and canoeing in general, let us focus on where to do it. While it may not be the first place that comes to mind when water sports are in question, the city of Atlanta with its surroundings has a lot to offer to kayakers and canoers. Georgia is a beautiful state with many places to do so and the area around Atlanta is one of the best to do so.
Location and Geography
Atlanta is located in the north-central part of Georgia and covers an area of 347.1 square kilometers, which is about 134 square miles. The city is situated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and is bisected by the Chattahoochee River, a very popular destination for kayaking and other water sports but also any other outdoor activity.
Population and Demographics
As of 2020, Atlanta has a population of 498,715 people, while its urban population is just under 5 million. These numbers make it the largest city in Georgia and the ninth-largest metropolitan area in the United States. The city is known for its diverse population with a mix of African American, White, Asian, and Hispanic residents. The demonym of the state is “Atlantan”.
The city is a significant economic hub for the whole of the southeastern United States. Atlanta has a diverse economy and is a leader in industries like finance, healthcare, transportation, and technology. The city is home to several Fortune 500 companies, most notably Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, and Home Depot. Other major employers in the area include Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Atlanta was founded in 1837 as the end of the Western and Atlantic railroad line that connected the port of Savannah to the Midwest. During the American Civil War, Atlanta was a major Confederate stronghold and was the site of several key battles that helped decide the outcome. After the war, the city underwent a period of rebuilding and growth, slowly but surely becoming a center for commerce, transportation, and industry.
Landmarks and Attractions
Atlanta is home to several landmarks and attractions that draw tourists from around the world. While it is a great place to enjoy the outdoors and go paddling, it has a lot to offer in terms of sightseeing too. Some of the most popular attractions include the Martin Luther King Jr.
National Historic Site with its civil rights leader’s childhood home and the Ebenezer Baptist Church, then the Georgia Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the western hemisphere, and the World of Coca-Cola that tells the story of the iconic soft drink brand. Other notable attractions include the Atlanta Botanical Garden, the Atlanta History Center, and the High Museum of Art.
Culture and Entertainment
Atlanta is known for its vibrant music scene, which encompasses genres such as blues, jazz, and country. Many notable contemporary artists call it home and are proud to be from the city crediting their origin for their major success.
The city is also home to several notable museums including the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Atlanta is also home to several major sports teams, mainly the Atlanta Braves (baseball), the Atlanta Falcons (football), and the Atlanta Hawks (basketball).
Kayaking and Canoeing Destinations
As mentioned, the whole state of Georgia, including Atlanta and its immediate surroundings, is a state with abundant natural resources. There are many lakes, rivers, and waterways that are perfect for both canoeing and kayaking. In the following section, we bring to you some of the best spots for canoeing and kayaking in Atlanta. No matter which you choose, fun times and a great paddling experience are guaranteed.
1. Lake Lanier
Not every great paddling destination has to be a natural creation. Far from it really and this is great proof. Lake Lanier is a man-made lake that was created in the 1950s as a result of the Buford Dam on the Chattahoochee River. The lake offers a ton of opportunities for water sports, including of course canoeing and kayaking, but also any other type of boating.
It is a great place for fishing and swimming which are only increased with the presence of kayaks/canoes as you can do it away from the coast. There are several marinas and boat ramps around the lake where you can launch your vessel and several parks and campgrounds located along the shoreline should you want to put a tent down.
2. Chattahoochee River
The Chattahoochee River is a 430-mile-long river that flows from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the north of Georgia all the way down to the Alabama state line. In the Atlanta area, the river is a popular camping and recreation ground with plenty of good canoeing, kayaking, tubing, and fishing spots.
Any river is a good place for some relaxing and recreational paddling, let alone one this long and diverse. There are many access points along the river, parks, and recreation areas to stop and relax, and amazing scenery to fill up your camera’s storage several times over.
3. Stone Mountain Lake
Stone Mountain Lake is yet another man-made lake in this area. It is located in Stone Mountain Park, just east of the city of Atlanta. The lake covers 323 acres and is surrounded by a 5-mile trail that is very popular for hiking and biking. In addition to canoeing and kayaking, the lake is also a common fishing and paddleboarding spot.
It is one of those places where fans of more than one activity can come and enjoy a little bit of everything. You can hike or cycle in the morning and then spend the afternoon on the water fishing or paddling. What else does one need from a day outside?
4. Lake Allatoona
Lake Allatoona is a man-made lake located about 30 miles north of Atlanta. The lake covers more than 12,000 acres and has over 270 miles of shoreline. In addition to canoeing and kayaking, the lake is a top destination for boating, fishing, and swimming.
It is popular with the locals as well as tourists. Marinas and boat ramps are present around the lake where you can approach the water and there are also rentals for different types of water-based activities.
5. Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek State Park is a 2,549-acre park located just west of Atlanta that features several hiking trails, with the most notable one going along Sweetwater Creek. Apart from being scenic and very beautiful, it is a popular canoeing and kayaking waterway, especially for those who enjoy light paddling and relaxation.
The park is full of picnic areas and there is a visitor center with exhibits on the park’s history and ecology. Of course, camping and other forms of outside recreation are readily available.
All of these bodies of water offer a unique experience for water sports enthusiasts, especially avid kayakers and canoers who want to try something new and travel someplace where they have never been before. With a range of activities available depending on the location, Atlanta is a hidden gem for paddling.
Of course, it is important to note that some of these waterways may have regulations and permits required for certain activities and at certain times so be sure to check the rules and regulations before you go.
Events and Races
While going in your own time and organizing your own trip may be what you were aiming for, you should know that there are several kayaking and canoeing events that take place in and around Atlanta throughout the year. Best of all, they happen in the very same bodies of water we already mentioned.
- The Chattahoochee River Summer Splash takes place in August and includes a 2.5-mile kayak and canoe race along the Chattahoochee River. There are other activities too including live music, and there is food and drinks all over.
- Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club Dragon Boat Festival are in September on Lake Lanier and it features dragon boat races, as well as other water sports competitions, food vendors, and live music programs.
- Peachtree City International Triathlon: This event takes place in October and includes a 1,500-meter swim on Lake Peachtree, followed by a 40-kilometer bike ride and a 10-kilometer run. It is a classic triathlon concept that is very popular in the area.
- Sweetwater Kayak Race Series takes place in Sweetwater Creek State Park and includes several kayak races throughout the summer months. It may be the best one of all for those of you who like circling dates and counting the days to your next kayaking experience.
- Southeastern Regional Canoe and Kayak Championships happen every August on Lake Lanier and include various kayak and canoe races. There are other water sports competitions too.
Meet Maria Alexander, the fearless adventurer steering the ship at KayakPaddling.net. Her mission? To convince you that life’s too short for dry land and that the best stories always start with “So there I was in my kayak…”