The Toccoa River laces through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia where it feeds into Blue Ridge Lake, spilling from Blue Ridge Dam into the Ocoee River and flowing north. Toccoa’s portion of the river, 56 miles, makes up more than half of the 93-mile river. Any section is easily paddle-able, and this 10-mile portion covers most of the Toccoa River Canoe Trail, while also adding in some Class II rapids.
As you’re paddling the Toccoa River, the surrounding trees and mountains hug the river basin like a hammock. The paddle weaves you deep into the Chattahoochee National Forest, where in summer, deciduous trees pad the banks with a lemon-lime hue. In these sections, you’ll see the makings of beaver dams, and sometimes the fat rodents are seen walloping along the shore.
What Makes It Great
The Toccoa is much more remote than many of the other rivers, and often your only company is the fly fisherman, out to catch the trout that are so abundant here. You’ll navigate through several series of Class I rapids, and on the second half of the trip, you’ll hit a Class II rapid. These rapids greet you with the sound of rushing water, adding to the anticipation of what you’ll discover beyond each bend. Many of these are modest runs, but on the Class II rapid, you’ll have to use some skill to steer clear of a series of boulders protruding from the waters. A few of the drops on this run are considered basic whitewater, but keep to the left and you’ll cruise through easily. At the end of the journey, there’s an option to hit a Class III rapid: where cascades power through a narrow boulder scape. There are hydraulics which make this rapid tricky, so use caution. You can just as easily exit to left and take-out at the boulders before the rapid.
Who is Going to Love It
For those who have paddled the calm rivers such as the Chattahoochee, this paddling trip proves to be much more exciting. While you’re much more remote than the Chattahoochee, you’ll still paddle by expansive, (and expensive) vacation cabins. The addition of multiple series of rapids keeps you entertained throughout the paddle, and you’ll find far fewer crowds on the waters, even during prime tubing season.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Put in: 103 Newport Road, Blue Ridge GA
Swinging Bridge is where the Benton-MacKaye Trail crosses the Toccoa. The campgrounds have bathrooms and picnic tables. It’s a 3-mile drive on FS 816.
Take out: 8055 Aska Road, Blue Ridge GA
The take-out point is located on Aska Road, and there’s no real designated parking, just a gravel pull-off point from the road. It’s a short drive from the Toccoa Riverside Restaurant, where you can grab a filling lunch after paddling.