7 Blue Ridge Water Adventures To Try This Summer
With the most beautiful rivers and lakes in the south, Blue Ridge is filled with Summer fun. Here's where to find some of the best:
GRAB A TUBE AND HIT THE TOCCOA
The Toccoa is a great tubing river, whether you bring your own or rent a tube from one of the tubing companies dotting the area. If you’re staying in a river cabin, chances are you’ll be launching along the Upper Toccoa thru the Chattahoochee National Forest and above Lake Blue Ridge. This is a longer float, usually about 3 hours, based on the location of your cabin and the water level.
Rent Tubes Here:
Blue Ridge Tubing
Toccoa Valley Tubing
The most popular tubing option for those not sure of the experience is to float the Lower Toccoa toward McCaysville. If you launch from Horseshoe Bend Park or the nearby area, you’ll enjoy a leisurely 1.5-2-hour adventure through residential and scenic parts of the city. This is a fantastic option for families with little kids because of the shorter time and the personality of the river.
Rent Tubes Here:
Toccoa River Tubing
A Rolling Thunder Tubing
Pro Tip: The Toccoa flows North, into Tennessee. This means that the “Lower Toccoa” is actually north of Lake Blue Ridge on a map.
RIDE THE RAPIDS OF THE OCOEE
When the Toccoa crosses the Georgia border into Tennessee, its name changes to the Ocoee and it picks up steam.
On the five-mile stretch of the Upper Ocoee, your guide will take you over the most intense rapids of the river. (You know it’s going to be great, since this is where they held the 1996 Olympic whitewater events.) Adventure-lovers plan accordingly: The TVA only releases water to this section on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Middle Ocoee is also a five-mile stretch, but the easier class III waves make this an ideal option for beginners and families. Kids will love the “break” along your trip that allows for a bit of splashing in the river from outside your raft. Note: Kids under 12 are not permitted on the Ocoee River, A Rolling Thunder River Company operates trips on the Nantahala for kids 8 and up.
Can’t make up your mind? Plan one 10-mile trip that links both river sections together for the ultimate white-water adventure.
Reserve your spot on in the rapids:
CANOE, KAYAK, OR SUP LAKE BLUE RIDGE
Lake Blue Ridge’s 60-miles of shoreline are ideal for exploring from the water, especially as part of a larger adventure of swimming, picnicking, and hiking at this beloved gem. If you don’t have your own equipment, The Point at the Morganton Point Recreation Area can help.
This new outfitter, located at the beach and boat ramp area, offers the perfect place to rent a kayak or standup paddleboard. Pick from a double or single kayak or try a fishing kayak with rod holders. Life jackets are included. For additional kayak and paddle board rentals on Lake Blue Ridge, try Lake Blue Ridge Outfitters who supplies kayaks, paddle boards plus a great shop with live bait, fishing gear, sunscreen, floats, water shoes and everything else you need for a fun day on the lake. Lake Blue Ridge Marina can also set you up with kayak’s and paddle boards, while you’re there be sure to visit the Boat Dock Bar & Grill for ice cold drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and a great selection of food, be sure at least one of you order their smoked wings.
LEAVE THE LAKE; KAYAK THE TOCCOA
The Toccoa River is not just for fishing and tubing…it’s also a fantastic kayaking river. Blue Ridge Mountain Kayaking owns the property near the base of the Lake Blue Ridge dam, offering a beautiful trip in an area of the river many people never see.
Pick from a long or short ride. Short trips allow you to kayak up to 2 hours, paddling from the dam and back. This trip isn’t available on holidays or when there is a dam release (usually Saturdays and Sundays), but is an excellent option for families with young kiddos.
The long ride is 6 miles in a single direction, with shuttle pickup at the end, usually after 2-3 hours of paddle time. This option is available for everyone, but only experienced kayakers are permitted during dam releases.
Affordable kayak lessons are available for beginners, and experienced kayakers who own their own equipment are welcome to use the shuttle service for a nominal fee.
ENJOY A LITTLE SPEED ON LAKE BLUE RIDGE
Kayaking and canoeing on Lake Blue Ridge are a must, but sometimes you want to venture a little farther and go a little faster. Lake Blue Ridge Marina is where to launch your boat, gas up, and get your supplies for an afternoon on the lake.
No boat? No problem! The Marina also rents new 23ft Bennington Pontoon boats for half or full day excursions. Swim in the water, fish for Walleye or Bass, or rent a two-person tube to pull behind the boat.
Additional boat rental options as well as jet ski’s are available at nearby Blue Ridge Boat Rentals, You can rent for the day or if you are vacationing at the lake and have a boat dock you can have a boat delivered to enjoy for up to 7 days.
SPLASH IN A WATERFALL
If you’re looking to explore among the trees, then a waterfall hike is the perfect way to reward yourself at the end of the trail. Fall Branch Falls is a double waterfall that only requires a 30-minute hike along the Benton MacKaye Trail.
Long Creek Falls is a longer trail, but still easy enough for newbies. The two-mile roundtrip trail follows Long Creek, ending at a 50-foot cascade into a beautiful trout-filled pool. While this trail is a favorite 365 days a year, visiting in Spring when the rhododendrons are in bloom is a true treat.
Pro Tip: Never climb a waterfall; they are slippery and dangerous. However, both falls mentioned here offer small pools at the bottom that are fun to dip your feet into, with caution. Please keep on the trails and do not trample fragile vegetation so that we can keep our waterfalls beautiful.
FISH LIKE A PRO WHEN YOU HIRE A GUIDE
Are you new to trout fishing or introducing your kids or grandkids to the sport? Maybe you’re an experienced angler looking for insider tips to Blue Ridge’s pristine trout water? Whatever your situation, we recommend a fishing guide.
Blue Ridge’s fishing guides bring their years of experience, local know-how, ability to read Mother Nature, and experience with the living river can yield a larger catch.
A guide also provides access to trophy fishing waters, usually on private property and otherwise inaccessible. Whether you’re wading or floating, access to the right location is everything.
Find a trout guide here.
CAMP BY THE WATER AT SWINGING BRIDGE
There are myriad campgrounds by the water in Blue Ridge, including Morganton Point on Lake Blue Ridge and Sandy Bottoms or KOA on the Toccoa. But one of our family’s favorite places is a little more rustic: Along the river under the Toccoa’s Swinging Bridge.
This 270-foot-long bridge is the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi River, and it’s a popular day hiking area. What many people don’t realize is that you can also camp here. Sites are first come, first serve, and you’re encouraged to camp in places where others have camped before to minimize disruption to the forest (look for established fire rings, for example).
How To Be A Great Outdoors Visitor