Paddling, Fishing, Hiking, Biking and More
The Upper Coosa River Basin is blessed with a wide variety of outdoor recreational opportunities. Because the river system travels through three distinct geographic provinces (the Blue Ridge, Ridge and Valley and Piedmont), the terrain is varied, offering everything from strenuous mountain climbs and thrilling whitewater paddling to leisurely bike rides on level paths and relaxing floats down slow moving waterways. The following list provides some of the Upper Coosa River Basin’s recreational highlights and provides links to websites with additional information about these special places. We encourage you to get out an explore this beautiful river basin. Look for postings about our adventure trips on our event calendar.
Little River Canyon
Located atop Lookout Mountain, the canyon carved by Little River and the surrounding land is a haven for a variety of recreational activities. Photography and sight-seeing from overlooks located along the Canyon Rim Parkway, picnicking, hiking, wading, Class III and VI white water paddling, mountain bike riding, horse back riding and rock climbing are all popular activities at the preserve. Hunting, trapping and fishing are permitted in designated areas.
Little River is considered the nation’s longest mountain-top river, spending almost its entire length winding atop Lookout Mountain. The River has carved out one of the Southeast’s deepest canyons.
In addition to the 14,000-acre Little River Canyon Preserve managed by the National Park Service, http://www.nps.gov/liri, the state of Alabama operates Desoto State Park, http://www.desotostatepark.com/ with hiking, biking, swimming and other amenities.
Little River is one of the major tributaries of Weiss Lake.
With more than 40,000 acres in Georgia and Tennessee (where it is known as Big Frog Wilderness Area), the Cohuttas comprise the largest wilderness east of the Mississippi. Within the Wilderness Area itself are 13 trails that provide more than 87 miles of remote hiking. Created by an act of Congress in 1976, the Wilderness Area holds the headwaters of the Coosa River Basin, including the springs that give rise to the Jacks and Conasauga rivers. One of the most popular hikes in the Cohutta’s is the Jacks River Trail, a 15.7 mile hike that includes no less than 40 stream crossings. For more information visit: www.blueridgemountains.com/cohuttas.html
Chattahoochee National Forest—Armuchee District
The Armuchee District of the Chattahoochee National Forest located in Floyd, Gordon, Chattooga, Walker and Whitfield counties, offers numerous outdoor recreation activities. The highlights include the Keown Falls and Pocket recreation areas. Keown Falls spills off the top of Johns Mountain. A one-mile trail provides excellent views of the falls and surrounding landscape. The Pocket recreation area includes campsites, picnic areas, a 2.5-mile hiking trail featuring tremendous wildflower displays in the Spring, and cold, clear springs perfect for wading. For more information, contact the Armuchee Ranger District at (706) 638-1085 or visit: http://www.georgiamagazine.com/outdoors/nf/trails/trails.htm#KEOWN
The Pinhoti Trail
A true backpacking/hiking treasure of the Coosa River Basin, the Pinhoti Trail runs about 100 miles through the Talladega National Forest and Cheaha State Park from Sylacauga, Alabama to Highway 278 near the Alabama/Georgia state border, outside Piedmont, Alabama. In Georgia, it winds more than 100 miles from the state line near Cave Spring Georgia, through Floyd County and the Armuchee District of the Chattahoochee National Forest and on to the Cohutta Wilderness Area where it connects with the Benton MacKaye Trail and ultimately the Appalachian Trail. Still under construction in Georgia, the Pinhoti is a multi-use trail open to non-motorized travelers on foot, bicycle and horseback. To learn more, visit http://www.georgiapinhoti.org/
The Appalachian Trail
The famous Appalachian Trail in Georgia winds along the ridge top that separates portions of the Coosa River Basin from the Tennessee River Basin. At Hightower Gap, about nine miles north of the Trail’s southern terminus at Springer Mountain, a short, unmarked side trail to the east leads downhill to the spring that gives rise to the Etowah River, a major tributary of the Coosa. From Hightower Gap to Rome, the Etowah winds some 160 miles. A hike along the Georgia Appalachian Trail will take you through the headwaters of three major river systems—the Coosa, Tennessee and Chattahoochee. For more information on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia visit: http://www.georgia-atclub.org/
A large wildlife management area gives hunters a spectacular array of medium to large animals. Fishing is also a popular past time. Four hiking trails of varying difficulty make the lake a hiking destination. The Oak Ridge Trail follows a high ridge to the lakeside, then returns along a creek. In just over a mile there are four distinct ecosystems. Tumbling Waters (Ridgeway) takes you to one of the few remaining waterfalls in the area. The Hidden Pond Songbird Trail is an easy hike that allows you to visit the wetlands of a gentrified beaver pond, and the beaver pond itself, rich in waterfowl. Finally, the Carters Lake Nature Trail takes you through some of the most scenic areas near the Visitors Center, with multiple scenic views of the lake. For more information visit: http://carters.sam.usace.army.mil/
Located only 30 miles from Atlanta, Georgia, Allatoona Lake is situated on the Etowah River, a tributary of the Coosa River. The serene lake and peaceful surroundings offer a respite from the rush of city living. More than 6 million visitors each year enjoy picnicking, swimming, boating, fishing and camping at Alatoona. For more information visit: http://allatoona.sam.usace.army.mil/
Weiss Lake covers about 30,200 acres in northeast Alabama on the Alabama – Georgia border. Four free public access areas and 37 privately run marinas service Weiss Lake. Campgrounds, motels and rental cabins dot the shoreline of the lake. The lake known is as the “Crappie Fishing Capital of the World”, but has other fish to boast about these days; largemouth and striped bass are making a name for themselves. The largemouth bass fishery has been a best-kept secret for several years. For more information visit: http://weiss.uslakes.info/
The Silver Comet Trail
The Silver Comet Trail allows you to bike, run, walk or skate 60 miles from Smyrna GA to the Georgia/Alabama Line. The trail begins at the intersection of South Cobb Drive and the East-West Connector in Smyrna, Georgia and runs to the Chief Ladiga trail in Alabama. No motor vehicles are allowed on the trail. Along the way you’ll see wildlife and beautiful scenery. One of the trail highlights is crossing the Pumpkinvine Creek Trestle, a 750 foot long, 126 foot high bridge. A little farther west is the 800 foot Brushy Mountain tunnel – fun for children of all ages to bike, run or walk through. For more information visit: http://www.pathfoundation.org/trails/sc.cfm
Paddling opportunities in the Upper Coosa River Basin are endless and varied—from a thrilling ride down Class IV rapids in Little River Canyon to a leisurely flatwater paddle down the Coosa River. Among the most popular paddling spots for whitewater enthusiasts are the Upper Etowah River, Cartecay River, Amicalola Creek, Talking Rock Creek, Terrapin Creek and Conasauga River. To learn more about these paddling destinations, visit: http://www.paddling.net/places/GA/ and http://www.paddling.net/places/AL/
Amicalola Falls State Park
One of Georgia’s most popular state parks, Amicalola Falls features a 729-foot waterfall—the tallest east of the Mississippi River that is part of the headwaters of the Coosa River. Amicalola Creek meets the Etowah River in Dawson County. The Park also features an eight-mile approach trail that leads from the park to Springer Mountain, the southern end of the 2,135-mile Appalachian Trail, as well as a lodge, cabins, campsites and an interpretive/visitors center. The Park also serves as the access point to the Len Foote Hike Inn, providing remote and rustic accommodations accessible only via a 5-mike hike. Activities include hiking, picnicking and trout fishing. For more information visit: http://gastateparks.org/info/amicalola/
Fort Mountain State Park
Fort Mountain derives its name from an ancient 855-foot-long rock wall which stands on the highest point of the mountain. The mysterious wall is thought to have been built by Indians as fortification against other more hostile Indians or for ancient ceremonies. Situated in the Chattahoochee National Forest close to the Cohutta Wilderness area, this park offers a variety of outdoor activities. Hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders will find some of the most beautiful trails in northern Georgia. Most wind through hardwood forest and blueberry thickets, occasionally crossing streams and providing spectacular vistas. During the summer, children will enjoy the sand beach located on a clear mountain lake, as well as miniature golf and pedal boat rental. For more information visit: http://gastateparks.org/info/fortmt/
Sloppy Floyd State Park
Sloppy Floyd Park is designed for people who want to enjoy a quiet, peaceful picnic or go canoeing, camping or hiking. With a total of more than 500 acres the park is about average in size. There are 25 tent, trailer and RV camping sites, a boardwalk, and two playgrounds for the kids. In addition to the three-mile loop Lake Rim Trail that covers both lakes, the recently completed Pinhoti is a multi-use trail developed by the Forest Service and local volunteers. Hiking on the Marble Mine Trail is a very popular activity. This moderate, wide and well-marked trail follows an upgraded road to the entrance of a marble mine that was briefly developed before the park existed. For more information visit: http://gastateparks.org/info/sloppy/
Striped Bass Fishing
The Upper Coosa River Basin is home to one of only a few naturally-reproducing populations of landlocked-striped bass, and as such, it also lays claim to some of the best striped bass fishing in Georgia and Alabama. During the spring spawning runs up the Coosa, Etowah and Oostanaula, sport fisherman flock to these waterways. Dr. Bill Davin, a biology professor at Berry College and former CRBI board member, has conducted extensive studies of the striped bass population in the Upper Coosa Basin, including radio-tagging selected fish to study spawning grounds; feeding areas; and most importantly, the thermal refuges utilized by these fish during the warmer summer months. With the potential for reduced discharge in the Coosa River system, as a result of water withdrawal; these thermal refuges could be in jeopardy.