Consider yourself lucky that you live in the Upper Etowah watershed. Not only is it biodiverse, it is beautiful. The Etowah is a great source of recreation for fishers, kayakers and tubers, and new launch locations soon are coming to Cherokee County. Additionally, both reservoirs in our watershed are great for paddling, fishing or picnicking.
Hickory Log Creek Reservoir
The Etowah supplies drinking water for the five counties it flows through, as well as a significant number of Cobb County residents, by way of the partnership between Canton’s Hickory Log Creek Reservoir and the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority. Water is pulled from the river close to the I-575 bridge at Exit 20 (the red brick building) and helps to fill the reservoir, to ensure there is adequate water during drought conditions.
The reservoir is open to the public for fishing, kayaking and canoeing. No motorized vessels or swimming are allowed, making it safe for novices to paddle. It encompasses 411 acres at full pool, with 15 miles of shoreline, and it is surrounded by a 15-foot buffer. It holds 5.77 billion gallons of water and supplies 44 million gallons per day.
A day-use fee of $5 is collected on-site off Bluffs Parkway in Canton, or a $50 annual pass can be purchased at the permitting office in Canton City Hall, Room 219. www.cantonga.gov/government/departments/reservoir.
Hollis Q. Lathem Reservoir
Yellow Creek is the tributary that fills Hollis Q. Lathem Reservoir, near Ball Ground. This lake encompasses 334 acres and holds 3.5 billion gallons of water. It is open to the public for fishing and paddling, but no motorized vessels or swimming are allowed. A short 2-mile paddle takes you to where Yellow Creek enters the lake by way of a lovely waterfall. A day-use fee of $5 is collected on-site at Cowart Road, off Yellow Creek Road. Or, an annual pass of $50 can be purchased at the reservoir office. https://ccwsa.com/reservoir.
Currently, you can access the Etowah River and Allatoona Lake at Fields Landing off Highway 20, or at the Knox Bridge Corps of Engineers boat ramp. You can access the Little River and Allatoona Lake at the boat ramp at Cherokee Mills on Bells Ferry Road, across from Little River Marina.
In the next two years, Cherokee County’s newest river access point will be at Long Swamp Creek on Highway 372, across from the McGraw Ford Wildlife Management Area. This park of approximately 20 acres will have a canoe/kayak launch and an archery range.
Another exciting addition to the county park inventory is the property on Yellow Creek Road at the Etowah. This property encompasses more than 500 acres, and it still is in the planning stage, because of its environmental sensitivity. We are hoping it will have river access, too.
Floating, paddling, fishing and swimming are excellent ways to enjoy the Etowah, but remember always to wear a life jacket and obey posted notifications about water conditions. A great source of information is the new, user-friendly app for iOS and Android users: GeorgiaRiverNetwork. This app has current information on launches, conditions, distances between take-outs and local historical information on most Georgia rivers.
The Upper Etowah River
- Encompasses 610 square miles and 390,400 acres.
- Includes five counties – Lumpkin, Dawson, Forsyth, Pickens and Cherokee.
- Has more than 100 tributaries, including Shoal, Amicalola, Yellow, Setting Down, Conn, Long Swamp and Sharp Mountain Creeks.
- Begins near Dahlonega, runs 90 miles to Lake Allatoona and continues to Rome, to form the Coosa River.
- Is only a fraction of the Etowah Basin, which drains 1,858 square miles and more than 150 river miles.
- Features two reservoirs, with fishing and paddling access, open to the public.
- Is home to 77 native fish species. (The Etowah biologically is one of the richest river systems in the world!)
- Join the Upper Etowah River Alliance (UERA): etowahriver.org.
- Attend UERA’s annual meeting, 6 p.m. April 20, at the Rock Barn in Canton. Tickets can be purchased on the website, under the Events tab.
- Participate in a cleanup event (etowahriver.org).
- Participate in a Keep Cherokee Beautiful event (cherokeega.com).
- Follow the Upper Etowah River Alliance on Facebook.
– Laine Kirby Wood, Canton resident and the executive director of The Upper Etowah River Alliance, is a writer, adventurer, wildlife enthusiast and grandmother to seven.