Etowah River – From GA 136 to GA 9
about 8.5 miles, 2.4 hours, 3.5 mph, class I
GA 136 (Landrum) gauge read 2.85′, 270 cfs GA 9 (Dawsonville) gauge read 5.00′, 315 cfs
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The put-in parking is on river right, upstream side of the bridge (coordinates are 34.409061, -84.019930). It is a strip of pavement beside the road and should accommodate 4-6 cars with room for several more in the grass. There is a primitive road running beside the road on the downstream side of the bridge that goes beneath the bridge, but it has a big puddle. We carried boats down the upstream side and put-in from a sandy bank beneath the bridge.
Not far from the put-in a mid-stream rock nearly caused our tandem canoe to capsize. We tried going left when right might have been better. The kayak ahead of us did just fine going right. There are occasional easy shoals. We looked for the old gold dredge but failed to see it. Plug the coordinates from the guide book into a GPS and you may have better luck. The banks are fairly high and steep so until the last several miles there were not a lot of places to pull out for breaks, especially if you have a large group. In low water you will have more choices.
There are lots of rhododendrons and mountain laurel. Must be really pretty when they are in bloom in May/June. There are numerous logs down although relatively few have enough intact limbs to be very dangerous. Only once did we have to get out to pull over a log. At lower levels the story will be different since we just barely cleared some logs. Getting out to drag over is more annoying to kayakers than canoers. We also just squeezed under some strainers so be vigilant in higher water.
We passed under GA 53. While you might put-in or take-out here, there is little room to park so I don’t recommend it.
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We didn’t paddle hard but still only took 2.4 hours, 3.5 mph, excluding a lunch stop, to reach the take-out. Lower water levels will mean a slower trip. This was a great level and it is a nice section of the Etowah for those wanting to avoid the class II water upstream.
The take-out is the county or city park (signed Etowah River Park, but called in the guide book Mountain Stewards Launch Site) on river right, downstream side of the GA 9 bridge. Note that GA 9 also crosses the river further upstream, so you’ll need to be clear about that when arranging meeting locations with others. This park has lots of parking, a stepped boat ramp, toilet, pavilion and swing. Coordinates are 34.359198, -84.113525.
This was a great trip and I look forward to doing it again.
Nearest public camping may be Amicalola State Park or the Dawson county campground on Lake Lanier. The latter closes in winter. There may be private campgrounds nearby as well. For food you can hit up the area around North Georgia Premium Outlet on GA 400, just south of GA 53. Tons of restaurants and one or two grocery stores.
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Put-in: From GA 400, south of Dahlonega, take GA 136 west for .8 mile.
Take-out: From Dawsonville, take GA 9 south to Etowah River Park.
A good guide book is “Etowah River User’s Guide” by Joe Cook.