Paddle or not, it’s easy to find yourself up a creek in Dahlonega.
Or a river. Or lake.
Canoeists and kayakers of all experience levels can enjoy paddling around Dahlonega, whose waters provide recreational pleasures ranging from relaxing flat water meanderings to thrilling whitewater adventures.
In fact, there are more than two dozen popular waterway sections in and within a 40-mile radius of Dahlonega that set the stage for excellent canoe and kayak trips. Tubing trips in the chilly mountain waters also make a big splash for kids and adults of all ages who’d rather float than boat.
The Chestatee and Etowah Rivers are the most well known and well travelled of the area’s many canoeing and kayaking destinations. While they both have some challenging sections, they offer mostly gentle Class I and Class II rapids as they flow through Dahlonega. Not far from Dahlonega’s historic Public Square, there are canoes, kayaks and tubes for rent from spring through fall. It’s not surprising that locals put river activities at the top of the must-do list when company comes to town.
When you’re ready to try out paddling, whether with oars or your bare feet, check out the businesses on the Chestatee River that can set you up: Appalachian Outfitters River Outpost (www.canoegeorgia.com) and Chestatee River Adventures (www.chestateeriveradventures.com). If you’re ready for something a little more advanced or ready to go it on your own, visit the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce (www.dahlonega.org) to find and download the Dahlonega Canoe and Kayak Guide & Map.
If you have a Georgia fishing license and a trout stamp, there’s always something to do around Dahlonega. Fishing’s a popular pastime—or sport—depending on how serious you are about your catch, with rivers, streams, creeks and lakes too numerous to name. Some of the waters are stocked; some waters’ fish populations are managed by the state’s Department of Natural Resources or U.S. Forest Service.
The area lakes, including Lanier, Dockery, Winfield Scott and Lake Zwerner, which is near the Public Square and often called the Yahoola Creek Reservoir, support a variety of fish. The most common are spotted, striped and largemouth bass, rainbow trout, black crappie, walleye and bream. In the rivers and creeks, you can catch native trout, as well as brown, rainbow and brook trout.
Visit www.georgiawildlife.com to see who sells fishing licenses in the Dahlonega area. And be sure to read the information that comes with your license. It will tell you all you need to know to cast your line in Georgia waters, from size and catch limits to lure allowances and fishing season dates.
With all the rivers, streams and mountains in the foothills of the Appalachian range, North Georgia couldn’t help but produce hundreds of breathtaking waterfalls. And dozens of them are accessible to the public in the Dahlonega area alone. Some can be viewed through the car window, while others are the cool, misty rewards for easy, peaceful walks through the woods or long, challenging hikes over mountain trails. Some area waterfalls can be enjoyed from overlooks, stairs or elaborate platforms.
It would seem that it might be difficult to locate these rushing, tumbling gifts of nature. But if you’re looking for them in Dahlonega or surrounding North Georgia counties, you’re in luck. Dahlonega’s own photographer Jack Anthony captured the beauty of 100 of his favorite waterfalls in a stunning hardcover coffee table book, Waterfalls of North Georgia. The book is out of print, but online (http://www.jackanthonyphotography.com/yahoola/waterfalls/index.html), he shares detailed directions—even GPS coordinates—to the falls that are accessible to the public.
One piece of advice if you visit Dahlonega’s waterfalls: Take a picture. It’ll last longer.