Are you ready for a thrilling kayaking adventure? Join me as I embark on a journey down the scenic Etowah River. With its picturesque landscapes and tranquil waters, the Etowah River in Georgia promises an unforgettable experience. Get ready to paddle your way through the heart of the South and discover the hidden gems along the way.
Planning the Trip: A Pleasant Surprise
Planning a trip is always an exciting endeavor, especially when you have kids in tow. As a meticulous researcher, I scoured the internet for information about the Etowah River Trail. However, to my surprise, much of the information I found was outdated and inaccurate. Undeterred, I decided to take on the challenge and uncover the river’s secrets myself.
Boat launch at Allatoona Dam
Testing My Gear: A Camping Expedition
Equipped with my trusty kayak and camping gear, I embarked on a kayak camping trip on the Etowah River. This adventure provided the perfect opportunity to test my equipment’s durability, assess the waterproof capabilities of my gear, and evaluate how my kayak handled when loaded down. My plan was to paddle to a campsite, spend the night, and be picked up the next day.
Paddling independently for the first time
Route and Discoveries: A River Full of Surprises
To chart my course, I relied on the Etowah River interactive trail map. After much consideration, I decided to depart from Allatoona Dam and camp at a private property owned by a generous local man named Henry Floyd – the perfect spot for camping. This section of the river covered a distance of 10 miles and included a portage around the Thompson Weinman dam in Cartersville.
Navigating the River: A Scenic yet Demanding Journey
As my son and I set off from Riverside Day Use Area in Cartersville, we marveled at the river’s beauty. However, it soon became apparent that the Etowah River required constant paddling to make any progress. Although there were occasional swift spots, most of the time, it felt more like navigating a calm lake rather than a river.
Crossing under Interstate 75 and Highway 41
The Hidden Challenge: A Stealthy Spillway
Approaching Cartersville, we encountered the Thompson Weinman dam, a formidable spillway that posed a significant obstacle. With concrete foundations and protruding re-bars, kayaking over this spillway was simply out of the question. Surprisingly, no warning signs alerted kayakers approaching this hazardous drop, likely due to the adjacent private properties.
Approaching the Thompson Weinman dam
Portaging: A Challenging Detour
Prepared for this challenge, I had researched the portage route on Google Earth. Following the trail previously forged by intrepid kayakers, I anticipated a straightforward detour. However, the reality proved to be a strenuous experience. We had to haul our kayaks up steep banks, navigate rocky terrains, and carefully position them back into the water. It was a tiring endeavor, but one that added a sense of accomplishment to our journey.
Portaging around the dam
Unveiling the River’s Charm: Homes, Rapids, and Wildlife
Despite the challenges, the Etowah River revealed pockets of beauty along its course. Magnificent homes adorned its banks, showcasing the charm of the region. We also encountered gentle rapids that added a touch of excitement to our adventure. Spotting an otter and observing sizable fish further enriched our experience. However, I couldn’t help but notice that some sections of the river were murky, dampening its overall visual appeal.
Passing by beautiful riverside homes
The Final Stretch: Unexpected Obstacles
After paddling the entire 10 miles, we finally reached the boat launch at Floyd’s property, only to be greeted by numerous Private Property and No Trespassing signs. It turned out that Mr. Floyd, the previous owner who graciously allowed camping, had passed away. The new owner charged a fee to utilize the facilities, which was not mentioned on the erroneous website. Disappointed yet resilient, we called for assistance and headed home, cherishing the memories we had made.
Floyd’s boat launch
Reflections and Future Adventures
Although our trip didn’t go as planned, it provided valuable insights and unforgettable moments. The Etowah River may not be the most enchanting destination in Georgia, but it offered a unique perspective on a familiar landscape. I found solace in the peaceful exhaustion, knowing that I had accomplished a feat and discovered a love for long-distance kayaking. My son and I relished the time we spent together, navigating the river’s twists and turns.
A sense of accomplishment
If you’re in close proximity to the Etowah River, I encourage you to embark on this adventure and witness its beauty firsthand. However, if you live farther away, I recommend exploring other rivers that might offer a more visually captivating experience. Georgia boasts numerous stunning spots, particularly up north.
So, grab your gear, prepare for an unforgettable journey, and test your paddling skills on Georgia’s rivers. And stay tuned for my upcoming adventure on the Toccoa River in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Until then, happy paddling!