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SUP, That’s What’s Up


Since summer is just around the corner and its time to start planning for some outdoor excursions, memories, and fun! Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is a perfect way to exercise while enjoying the scenery and other amenities north Georgia has to offer.


Last summer, I bought two SUPS for about $900 total (not a bad deal) and began paddling. While I would love to SUP near the Georgia Coast, north Georgia offers some great spots to paddle without the long drive. 


I highly recommend renting from Outdoor World Outfitters for SUPs and other gear. Their rental prices are great and the staff is helpful. Also, they have all the resources beginners need to get out on the water.


Stand-up paddle boarding is a great activity for those looking for an easy way to stay on the water. Paddling on an SUP provides a full body workout without intense strain. Wearing a personal flotation device and an ankle leash is a must. Balancing on the board can take some practice but once you stand up and start paddling, it is a lot of fun. 


SUPs are lightweight and durable but inflatable SUPs are easy to store and travel with. Before purchasing your own board I recommend renting one to see if you like it. You can also sit down on the board, stay on your knees, or attach a kayak seat on some boards depending on where you are paddling.


These locations are in no particular order but were decided upon based on: distance and location, scenery, amenities and rentals, and wind. 


Why specify wind? When paddle boarding, the wind plays a crucial role in your experience. Once you have your balance on the board and stand up, your body essentially acts as a sail. This is why paddle boarding on oceans and lakes can be dangerous. 


The wind can push you out far from the shoreline in minutes and if you try to paddle against it you can become exhausted quickly. Therefore, these locations have flat water and no high winds so that you can start your SUP journey successfully.


Little Ridge at Lake Lanier


Just a 16 minute drive from the UNG Cumming campus, Little Ridge Park on Lake Lanier is a perfect place for a beginner paddler to launch. With plenty of parking, and decent access on the shoreline, paddlers can complete an easy loop around the cove. I recommend staying away from the boat ramps of course.


The water is calm with the occasional waves from boats and waterskis. Lots of shade provides plenty of spots to rest and get out of the sun for a bit. It can get pretty windy reaching 18 mph mid-day. The best time to go out on the lake is early morning just after sunrise. The water is like glass and its cooler, making for a perfect start of the day.



If you are interested in a day trip SUP excursion head to Rome where you have three different paddle options. The first being the Etowah River. The river is not shallow and is great for paddling or kayaking. I would suggest this particular location for advanced paddlers.


The Coosa River forms from the convergence of the Etowah and Oostanaula rivers and makes for a great place to start paddling upstream. The river flow is not fast at all but it will give you a great workout. 


According to River Dog Paddle Co, “the normal paddle is up the Oostanaula River through Downtown Rome to Ridge Ferry Park, 1.5 miles up river.” River Dog Paddle Co provides rentals, lessons, and SUP yoga! 


This location is well over an hour from all UNG campuses but the city of Rome has a lot of shops and historic sites making for a great day trip.


Tugaloo Corridor


If you are interested in historical sites and SUP then the Tugaloo Corridor is for you. The Tugaloo is not too windy and can get a bit humid in the summer, but offers some interesting historical sites along the way, including sites of Travelers Rest, the old Prather’s Bridge, and the prehistoric Estatoe Indian Village. 


The Tugaloo is about an hour away from the UNG Oconee campus. Toccoa Falls is close by as well. The scenery is great and provides various photo opportunities while paddling. For beginner paddlers, this location is great and not too windy. However, it can get a bit humid during the late summer months and you will have to walk through some trees to get out on the water.


The Tugaloo Corridor hosts many events during the year including the Toccoa Canoe Tour, Tugaloo Bend River History Tour, and the Tugaloo Bend Nature Walk. 


The Chattahoochee River

Located at Sandy Springs where Johnson Ferry road crosses the Chattahoochee, is a great spot to start paddling! Nantahala Outdoor Center provides water access at Johnson Ferry road and Powers Island. SUP rentals are available as well! The water is flat for 8 miles and offers some Class I-II whitewater for a bit of adventure for kayakers in particular. 


Restrooms are available and rentals are at a great price at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. This location on the Hooch is about an hour south from the Dahlonega Campus.


The Chattahoochee River is a beautiful float downriver. Paddlers are likely to spot a blue heron perched above the river and plenty of trout in the water. The Hooch provides plenty of scenery for nature lovers.


Unicoi State Park

Unicoi Lake is a beautiful place to paddleboard. A cooler flat water location, paddlers will enjoy Unicoi’s Paddle Board Tour and rental amenities at a great price.


GoPro rentals are offered at the Adventure Lodge. Recording SUP excursions with such cameras helps capture all the memories you’ll make at Unicoi. With scenic views, easy water access, and rentals, Unicoi is a great location for beginner paddlers. 


The beach can get a bit crowded during the summer but there is plenty of space to set out on an SUP trip. I would recommend this location in particular for children and families as Unicoi Adventure Lodges of Georgia provide a perfect family friendly weekend getaway.


There are many more locations to SUP in North Georgia that did not make it on this list. Paddle boarding is a relatively safe and easy way to enjoy the outdoors. I encourage those interested to do their research, grab a paddle, and get out on the water. 



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SUP, That’s What’s Up