Part of the Chattooga River winds it way through Rabun County in Northeast Georgia. And get this: it is still wild and free. It is a quick drive from Atlanta, and there’s no admission charge! Follow Warwoman Road out of the city of Clayton, Georgia. Once you cross over the bridge that spans the river, park in the lot on your left.

A short walk takes you to a “take out” area for canoes and rafts, while another trail leads to a rocky area where you can picnic and watch white water rafters take their shot at the rapids. The water level is down a little due to the drought, but the scenery remains breath-taking—just right for a weekend escape. Here is what the forestry service posted on their Web site:

“The Chattooga River begins in mountainous North Carolina as small rivulets, nourished by springs and abundant rainfall, high on the slopes of the Appalachian Mountains—the start of a 50-mile journey that ends at Lake Tugaloo between South Carolina and Georgia, dropping almost ½ mile in elevation. The river is one of the few remaining free-flowing streams in the Southeast. The setting is primitive; dense forests and undeveloped shorelines characterize the primitive nature of the area.

“On May 10, 1974, Congress designated the Chattooga a Wild and Scenic River. Few rivers possess the special characteristics to qualify. This protection is reserved for rivers possessing not only outstanding scenery, but also recreation, wildlife, geologic, and cultural values. No motorized vehicles are permitted within a corridor about ¼ mile wide on either side of the river. Visitors must rely on their own skills and strength rather than on motorized equipment. Man-made facilities are minimal, consisting primarily of hiking trails.”

Suggestion: If you can, avoid using the public “facilities.” They are primitive and often unkept.