Atlanta’s iconic river is the 430-mile Chattahoochee River that flows from the Blue Ridge Mountains to Apalachicola. The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is the closest access to paddle-friendly water in Atlanta. You can access multiple put-in and take-out points along the 48-mile section of the CRNRA.
One particular paddle that's mild and worth mentioning is the one that leads from Azalea Park to Morgan Falls Overlook Park. The highlight here is Cedar Cliffs, a set of rocky outcrops on the banks. These cliffs are popular among thrill-seekers for modest cliff jumping. Morgan Falls Overlook Park is in it’s own inlet and that makes the waters extremely calm. It is very easy to paddle upstream, so this is also a great spot for soloists, as you won’t need to park another car downstream.
Up in North Georgia, the 170-mile Etowah River flows southwest to Rome, Georgia. Paddling on the Etowah varies, with challenging shoals to the north and wider, lazy paddles southwest that lead through Cumming and Cartersville.
At Lake Lanier, you’ll encounter crowds and boat traffic, especially in the summer months, but a secret spot that's worth a visit is Vann’s Tavern.