Connecting with the Chattahoochee River

A Journey Down an Amazing River

Written by Larry Strott, Canoe Coordinator at the CNC
June 15, 2020

The Chattahoochee River starts as a small spring trickling out of an Appalachian Mountain hillside called Jack’s Knob, located about 10 miles north of Helen in Chattahoochee Gap. The tiny pool formed as water flows out of the ground is inhabited by tiny fish. The spring is also recorded as a reliable water source for hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Right from its modest start, the Chattahoochee River supports both natural and human lives. The water follows gravity down the mountain, across the state of Georgia, and eventually reaches the Gulf of Mexico about 550 miles south. Hundreds of tributaries make up the watershed that converges into the Chattahoochee River until it becomes large enough to support the needs of millions of people in 3 states. If you live in the vicinity of the Chattahoochee, there is a very good chance that the 60% of your body that is made of water, is in fact, Chattahoochee River water. The river is literally our life blood.

The transformation from the small trickle in the north Georgia mountains, to the beautiful river that flows past the Chattahoochee Nature Center, happens over many miles, growing in size from the many smaller tributaries along the way. The Chattahoochee Nature Center’s transformation from its own modest grassroots beginning back in 1976, to today’s 127-acre facility that touches the lives of more than 130,000 people each year, happened over many decades, thanks to thousands of members, sponsors, and volunteers, building a strong foundation. The river brings life-giving water to nourish our bodies and the Chattahoochee Nature Center provides unique natural experiences to enrich our minds. The Chattahoochee Nature Center Canoe Programs allow people to experience the natural world of the Chattahoochee River up close. In 2019 we had over 900 participants join us on the water through the CNC canoe programs! 

Like many people here in Atlanta, the Chattahoochee Nature Center brought me together with the Chattahoochee River as a child back in 1979, when I took a canoe class on Kingfisher Pond.  A decade later, still as a young man, I took a naturalist class at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. By this time, I had explored nearly every inch of Bull Sluice Lake in my canoe. My wife and I had our first date at Island Ford, sitting on a rock overlooking the river.  We married on the same spot, and after which, I paddled my new bride 3 miles downriver to the Roswell River Landing where we held our reception. Not too many years later we would bring our own children back to the Chattahoochee Nature Center to let them start on their own path of natural discovery. Now I have come full circle and returned to the river and the Chattahoochee Nature Center, as a Canoe Guide. My journey with the Chattahoochee Nature Center has taken me down our amazing river for over 40 years. It has shown that the Chattahoochee Nature Center is not a resource just for children, but an invaluable source of natural experiences for all ages.