The complete guide to the Chattahoochee River

Where to tube, fish, and paddle on the ‘Hooch

Chattahoochee River
Six private companies rent tubes along the river—or you can bring your own raft.

Photograph by John E. McDonald

Even in the summer, the Chattahoochee’s waters can average 52 degrees. Keep that in mind when hopping on a tube with one of six river outfitters. Bill Cox, the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area’s superintendent, suggests Powers Island Park in Sandy Springs for a two-hour, three-mile float ending at Paces Mill Park. Upriver, a seven-mile float spans from Abbotts Bridge to Jones Bridge Park in Johns Creek. Call (770) 945-1466 to check Buford Dam release schedules beforehand and bring a life jacket—they’re required.

“The trout fishing is world-class; these are the same fish they catch in Montana and New Zealand,” says Christopher Scalley, owner of Chattahoochee guide service River Through Atlanta. Colder waters upstream near Island Ford Trail and Bowmans Island Park are primed for catching prized brown and rainbow trout. To snag catfish, perch, pike, and bass (large-mouth, striped, and shoal) with spin and fly fishing techniques, try Paces Mill Park and Morgan Falls Dam.

The ’Hooch is a paddler’s paradise, but certain areas are better suited for specific vessels. Nancy Balaun, an Atlanta Rowing Club member, says Powers Ferry Island Park to Paces Mill Park is a relatively easy whitewater section for kayakers. (Novices should tag along with an experienced guide and wear helmets, she says.) And when water levels are high, the smoother river stretch near Azalea Park is ideal for rowing and paddle boarding.