The Chattahoochee River originates in the Blue Ridge Mountains and heads south towards the Gulf of Mexico. In its path are significant challenges, most notably Atlanta, Georgia.
Atlanta was built on the crest of a large ridge, rather than in the floodplain of the river. This has contributed to the preservation of much of the natural scenic beauty of the section that runs through metropolitan Atlanta. North of the city, the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area preserves a series of sites between Atlanta and Lake Sidney Lanier along the Chattahoochee River. The 48-mile stretch of the river affords public recreation opportunities and access to historic sites, one of the many reasons the Nantahala Outdoor Center decided to recently open an operation on the river.
In 2012, the Chattahoochee River N.R.A. was also designated as the Chattahoochee River Water Trail to become the first river named a National Water Trail. The National Water Trails System was created by the U.S. Department of the Interior to increase access to water-based outdoor recreation, encourage community stewardship of local waterways, and promote tourism.
The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (CRK) is the nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving this precious resource and annually hosts the Back to the Chattahoochee Race and Festival. Organized in partnership with the National Park Service, Fulton County, and the city of Roswell, the event is organized to celebrate the Chattahoochee and foster a sense of community around the river that serves more than 4 million people and 70% of metro Atlanta.
The race began at Garrard Landing Park and included competitive and recreational categories for kayaks, canoes, and SUPs. The race entry is capped at 450 participants and they have sold out every year, making this a very competitive event, especially as so many extraordinary paddlesports athletes live in the immediate area. This 8 mile course included some fun class I rapids and finished at Riverside Park, the site of the festival, music and awards presentation.
Consider visiting the Chattahoochee River N.R.A. and racing in the Back to the Chattahoochee so you can experience this incredible wilderness corridor. It’s hard to believe you are surrounded by almost 5 million people and are traveling on one of the most threatened watersheds in the country.