Georgia is full of outdoor adventures, from hiking to breathtaking waterfalls to tubing down the Chattahoochee River. But one exciting adventure stands out from the rest, and that’s a day trip to Georgia’s hidden underground river — and those who are brave enough can paddle their way through to the other side.
This kayaking adventure journeys along the Etowah River Water Trail, which flows 163 miles from Lumpkin County in north central Georgia to Floyd County in northwest Georgia. Throughout the water trail there are whitewater rapids and waterfalls, and several public access points from which paddlers can launch their boats.
The underground river is actually a ¼-mile-long abandoned mining tunnel that was dug out in the 1800s to mine gold from the river bottom. The easiest path to the tunnel is to put in at Castleberry Bridge in Dawsonville, Ga. From here, the tunnel is just 3.5 miles from the bridge.
As you paddle up to the tunnel, check to see if there is a spec of light at the end of the tunnel before entering. If you don’t see a dot of light, the tunnel could be blocked. As you enter the tunnel, you’ll paddle in complete darkness except for the small light at the exit. It’s an exhilarating journey that’s likely to be a bit bumpy and noisy as the water flows through the tunnel, but it sure is a thrill when you finally exit on the other side.
If you’re along for the ride, but don’t feel like taking the journey through total darkness, there’s an option to paddle around the the tunnel. As the river splits, you can paddle ¾ of a mile around to where the tunnel rejoins the river.