Stories from the Coosa Basin


11/19/2012 - Cartecay River

This is actually river # 13, paddled on November 19.  We had a couple of days to spend in our cabin above Ellijay.  The weather was beautiful—sunny and mid-sixties, so   we ought to check out the Cartecay.   We arranged a shuttle and set off late in the afternoon.   The paddle was only 3 ½ miles, but the river was a bit shallow, so we didn’t want to waste time.  Sure enough, about ten minutes into the paddle, I missed the line that Glen had taken, turned sideways against a rock, and SPLASH—in I went!  One of the great things about paddling a Pungo is the large cockpit.  But filled with water, that cockpit is heavy.  Luckily Glen is strong—I won’t lie and say that I had my wits about me enough to help him—and my boat was emptied with me back in it fairly quickly.  This wasn’t the most scenic paddle—lots of industrial buildings lined the river. But we did paddle to the end of the Cartecay, where it meets the Ellijay and turns into the Coosawattee.  This was our third passage through a “Three Rivers” spot!  Just a salutary turn up the Ellijay and then we continued the trip on the Coosawattee.

We reached our takeout at dusk, still wet and plenty cold.  But the addition of a new river to both of our lists—and the prospect of a warm fireplace—brightened the evening.

Suzi Parron


11/18/2012 - Ellijay River

Glen and I decided to make last year’s Thanksgiving cabin getaway a tradition.  As we searched the rental listings, I spotted a cabin on the Ellijay River.  Hmm—I need one more river—it’s getting cold—this might do the trick!  Sure enough, the cabin sat right on the bank, with a deck over the river.  A perfect place for our first “Thanksgivingversary.”

When we got to the cabin the weekend before Thanksgiving, we realized what we should have known-- that the river was a bit shallower than it had been when the online photo had been taken.  Still, we couldn’t resist.  We drove to a covered bridge over what we thought was a small branch of the river (it turned out to be Briar Creek) and had a quick paddle down to our cabin!  It was awesome coming around that last bend and seeing the deck of our temporary home coming up. We stored the boats under the deck and hit the hot tub—AHH.  

Suzi Parron


9/9/2012 - Tri-River Paddle: Conasauga, Coosawattee, Osstanaula  

Kayaking is one of the few areas in which I am a follower rather than a leader; we always let the guys plan the trips.  In September, I thought maybe I would take a bit of initiative this time. Also, I had the Twelve Rivers Challenge in mind and realized that we needed to get away from the Hooch and the Etowah!   I looked through the trusty paddling book and saw something interesting—we could put in at a bridge over the Conasauga and paddle to its confluence with the Coosawattee, where the Oostanaula forms.  I had never paddled the first two and hadn’t been on the Oostanaula this year.  Perfect!

There were just four of us on the trip, and we dreaded the long drive with two cars. We talked about getting a cab for a shuttle or some other plan.  Then Glen looked more closely at the map and noticed that if we put into the Conasauga at the bridge I had indicated and paddled to Resaca on the Oostanaula, the river would actually have curved back to within a mile of the spot where we put in! So we set off in a single truck with a “walking shuttle” planned.

We reached the bridge over the Conasauga and pulled to the roadside. Hmm—nothing but huge chunks of granite on one corner of the bridge, a fence on another, and two steep drop offs—one through woods and one through kudzu—on the other two.  I felt so stupid—I had just assumed that there would be a decent put in.  We each took a corner and surveyed more carefully, none wanting to be the one to say, “No—this won’t work.”  The woods won, with a sand bar about twenty yards downriver our goal. Crashing, dragging, pulling, and pushing, we managed to break a path through the trees and brush and reach the sandbar where we would begin the trip.  Note to self—wear long sleeves when dubious put-ins are involved.  I was pretty scratched up!

Richard and Glen drove to Resaca, parked the car near the river, and walked back to where Linda and I waited. This was a lovely paddle—unspoiled land with almost no development, very peaceful.  We stopped at a few sandbars along the way to photograph the incredible wildflowers and wild mushrooms on the banks.  When we reached the Oostanaula, we turned upriver on the Coosawattee for about a mile and found it equally inviting--a river we would definitely want to visit again.

A few miles down the Oostanaula, we reached two bridges in Resaca. On Google Earth, Glen has seen what looked like a boat ramp nearby.  Oops—it was a huge outcropping of granite!  We were far, far below the road, with no apparent means to get out of the river.  Undaunted, Richard soon chose a patch of gravel along the bank for our takeout, and he and Glen made the almost vertical climb to the top, dragging two boats. Linda and I climbed as far as we could and waited for the guys to return.  It turned out to be a longer wait than anticipated. One of the bridges was a railroad bridge, and just as the men began to walk back to us, a freight train went by, separating the party.  That was definitely a first—taking out across a railroad!  When it was time for Linda’s boat to cross the tracks, she posed right in the middle for a photo—one of a kind, I am sure!

I had just about decided that I would never again plan a trip; after all, both access and exit were pretty tough.  Just then, Linda said, “Gosh, that was fun,” and the others agreed.  Sometimes the unexpected is what makes a river trip worthwhile!  

Suzi Parron


11/31/2012 - Three Rivers Paddle - Coosawattee, Conasauga, Oostanaula Rivers

This was a solo trip...

On Halloween evening I paddled 1/4 mile down the Coosawattee from Hwy 225 to the confluence with the Conasauga then 2 miles down the Oostanaula before camping. Over the following two days I paddled the remaining 48 miles of the Oostanaula then 7 miles down the Coosa to Lock and Dam park.  At the confluences I paddled a couple hundred yards up the Conasauga, a couple hundred up Armuchee Creek, and a couple hundred up the Etowah.

Glen Smith


11/18/12 - Ellijay River ----- 12 Rivers in 2012 Challenge FINISHED!!

Suzi Parron and I made our twelfth river today paddling (and hiking) on the Ellijay! 

Glen Smith


Spring, 2012 - Little River & Amicalola Creek

Paddles # 8 & 9 - In the Spring, I put in at Olde Rope Mill Park on the Little River and 6 of us went upstream on a clean-up and paddle exploration. We turned around at the railroad bridge and rode downstream back to the park. In the afternoon, we paddled on into the edge of Lake Allatoona up Toonigh Creek to the hidden waterfalls for a snack and nap!

With a group from Altanta Area Paddlers meetup, I spent a wonderful day on upper Amicalola Creek - getting out just above the incredible rock formation and rapids called Edge of the World. Along the way, we went over the edge of a small 6 foot falls just to see if we could! It was a VERY scrapy day, and we got out of our kayaks a lot to get to clear, deeper water.

Bobby Marie


8/14/2012 - Lake at Reed Bingham State Park & Little River

Paddle #5 - We paddled from the boat ramp on the lake at Reed Bingham State Park down Little River to the bridge at Roundtree Bridge Road & back to Reed Bingham.  It was about a 7 mile/3 hour paddle.  It was a BEAUTIFUL paddle. The cypress trees with the Spanish Moss, the sound of the cicadas, the turtles, the variety of birds, one alligator, & only one motorized boat (once we got out of the lake) made it very enjoyable.  The river had massive amounts of water hyacinth & duckweed.  They were pretty but narrowed the river in some sections.  There were numerous wasp nests of various sizes hanging from tree limbs with wasps actively building the nests.  We tried not to get too close to those.  Overall, I think this was one of our favorite paddles of all times.   

Lonny & Rhonda Martin


7/14/2012 - Little River & Toonigh Creek

Paddle #4 - We put in at Rope Mill Park...There's not a boat ramp, just a little creek/ditch to slide the boats into the river.  We saw lots of turtles & several herons.  There was a sand dredger on one side of the river, but it wasn't in operation.  We paddled up to Toonigh Creek & went to see Toonigh  Creek Waterfall & have a picnic lunch.  It was a beautiful little spot.  We paddled back out to Little River & headed towards Lake Allatoona.  We turned around when we got to a section that had too many recreational boaters.  It looked like it was going to rain, so we headed back to Rope Mill Park.  We paddled about 2 hours 15 minutes / 5.67 miles.   

Lonny & Rhonda Martin


2/5/2012 - Etowah River

We spend a lot of time on the Etowah; I believe that it is my favorite of Georgia’s rivers.  We camped overnight twice this year—which meant loading all of our gear onto kayaks and paddling heavily-laden boats down to a site right next to a waterfall.  We take it all—eight-by-ten foot tent, queen sized air mattress, folding camp chairs--It’s like car camping with a river and boat instead of vehicle and road!  We have loads of fun, and I will always look forward to the overnight.  We also enjoyed a couple of moonlight paddles and some beautiful day trips—I never tire of the Etowah.

Most memorable Etowah Trip:

The Tunnel of Terror!   John Miller, who taught many of us to paddle, has a birthday late in January, and mine is February 2nd, so we decided to have a birthday paddle.  Only the infamous Tunnel of Terror would do!  It’s an old tunnel that was used to divert the river for mining purposes—about ¼ mile long and pitch dark.  I will admit—I was terrified.  So I decided to go early in the group of 24 paddlers to get it over with. It was dark—just a pinprick of light ahead.  And LOUD.  I knew that the tunnel was narrow but no one had told me that if I held my paddle normally, it would bounce off the sides of the tunnel the entire way.  The impact sounded a lot like thunder and made my boat turn constantly from side to side. As the light at the end of the tunnel became larger and larger, I had some inkling that I might make it, and sure enough—I dropped out of the tunnel into the pool at the end to cheers from those who waited. I felt so accomplished!

About half a dozen paddlers weren’t as lucky.  As those of us who had finished sat around the edges of the pool at the end, we spied a paddle floating out of the tunnel. “Uh-oh, who do you think it is?”  We waited a moment until an unmanned black and purple boat shot out, confirming that Linda Wiant had gone swimming somewhere inside.  It seems that the tunnel is just wide enough for small boats, such as Linda’s XP-9, to rotate inside, making it much easier for them to lose control.  We all shared a good laugh and continued to watch as some boats came through intact and some one piece of gear at a time with the paddler last. 

After we had all had a bite to eat, we set back out.  I was rather proud that I—with my less than stellar skills—had remained upright in the tunnel.  SIGH.  Thirty seconds after pushing away from the bank, there I was in the water—having survived the Tunnel of Terror but not the 1-foot drop that led back into the main river!

Suzi Parron 


1/14/2012 – Etowah, Coosa, and Oostanala Rivers

On January 14th, I joined Joe Cook and about 100 others on the CRBI Polar Bear Paddle over by Rome, GA. In one day I paddled 3 rivers, the Etowah for the major portion of the trip, then took two side paddles, upstream on the Oostanala for 30 minutes and then down and back up the Coosa for 30 minutes. When you reach the confluence of these three rivers you can look down and see the difference in the waters.  The Etowah was greenish and the Oostanala was very brown and the Coosa was a mixture of the two! I only saw one BIG cooter on the bank in the sun the whole day. On the way home, we made an obligatory stop at Johnny Mitchell's Smokehouse in Euharlee.

Happy New Year! 

- Bobby Marie