From its headwaters on the southern slope of the Tennessee Valley divide near Dahlonega to its confluence with the Oostanaula to form the Coosa in Rome, the Etowah is a river full of interesting surprises. Paddle over Native American fish weirs and past the Etowah Indian Mounds, one of the most intact Mississippian Culture sites in the Southeast. See the quarter-mile tunnel created to divert the Etowah during Georgia's gold rush and the pilings from antebellum bridges burned in the Civil War. This guide offers all the information needed for even novice paddlers to feel comfortable jumping in a boat and heading downstream, including detailed, accurate maps; put in/take out and optimal river flow information; mile-by-mile points of interest; and an illustrated natural history guide to help identify animals and plants commonly seen in and around the river. A fishing primer offers tips to understand the habits of some of the many native fish species found in the Etowah, from trout in the river's upper reaches to bass and bream in the midsection and catfish and drum below Lake Allatoona. Along the way, river explorers will come to understand the threats facing this unique Georgia place, and the guide offers suggestions for how to take action to help protect the Etowah and keep its beauty and biodiversity safe for future explorers.
Joe Cook is executive director of the Coosa River Basin Initiative and coordinator of Georgia River Network's annual Paddle Georgia event. His photography has been widely published, and he is the coauthor with Monica Cook of River Song: A Journey Down the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola Rivers.