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Explore North Georgia's Toccoa River

By Edited Jul 21, 2016 0 0

A Fisherman's Paradise!

Exceptional Recreational Opportunities!

Georgia Scenery
North Georgia’s Toccoa River

Originating in the Chattahoochee National Forest[1] in Union County,[2] Georgia, the Toccoa River[3] derives its name from the Cherokee word for “beautiful”. The waters meander down from the mountains of North Georgia passing through the historic town of Dial and continues to weave through the Blue Ridge Mountains where it crosses the Tennessee State line at the twin towns of McCaysville Georgia and Copperhill, Tennessee. In Tennessee the river is known as Ocoee.

Toccoa River
The Toccca and the more turbulent Ocoee are really a single 93 mile-long river journeying northwestward through the Appalachian Mountains[4] with 56-miles of waterway in Georgia, the remainder in Tennessee. The waters of Toccoa River eventually make it all the way to the Gulf of Mexico via the Hiwassee River, a tributary of the Tennessee River. The Tennessee follows a winding course until it enters the Ohio River, a tributary of the mighty Mississippi. The Mississippi carries the waters southward into the Gulf of Mexico.


The upper Toccoa is a paradise for fishermen. Fed by several large streams including Noontula, Coopers and Rock Creeks, the upper stretches of the river are a premium habitat for trout. While trout reproduce naturally in the cold waters of the Toccoa and its tributaries, Brown and rainbow trout are stocked annually to insure a memorable fishing experience. Both the Brown and rainbow trout average about 10 inches with 12-to-18 inch fish caught commonly. Electrofishing surveys confirm the presence of a substantial trout population that weight up to 8.5 pounds each and measure greater than 26 inches. Float fishing or wading are the techniques preferred by local anglers fishing the upper Toccoa. Locals advise going after the rainbows in the faster moving waters and pursuing the browns in the shadowed overhang of the bank or jagged rock outcroppings that adorn the shore.


The upper reaches of the Toccoa River offer a wealth of other recreational opportunities including swimming, tubing, canoeing and kayaking. The Toccoa River Canoe Trail offers a gentle canoe trip down the Toccoa beginning at the launch at Deep Hole Recreation Area flowing west and north to the Sandy Bottom Canoe Take Out Point. Paddlers can lazily float through some of the most glorious mountain scenery in northern Georgia as the river continues its voyage to Blue Ridge Lake, a man-made lake, damming the flow of the Toccoa. The 3,290-acre lake is located in the fertile river valley of Fannin County, Georgia. The U.S. Forest Service owns more than 80 percent of the lakeshore. There are several convenient boat launching sites as well as a full-service marina, public picnic shelters and a sandy beach swimming area.

Created by the Tennessee Valley Authority, the project of damming the Toccoa began in 1925. On July 31, 1931, the newly created Lake Toccoa began producing electric power for the Toccoa Electric Power Company. In 1934, the name of the lake was officially changed to Blue Ridge Lake. Blue Ridge Lake holds a local fame for being one of the best large and small-mouthed bass lakes in Georgia.

Fly-fishermen are drawn to the lower Toccoa due to the bountiful midge, mayfly and caddis hatchlings. When the trout are rising, be prepared with dry flies to ”match the hatch”. Be sure and bring your camera. Birding and wildlife viewing opportunities abound. Black bear are plentiful as well as deer, raccoons, squirrels, wild hogs, wild turkeys, woodcocks and quail. Eagles, osprey, hawks and other raptors draw the viewer’s eye skyward. Sunrise and sunset are especially enjoyable times on the water. In early morning, a heavy silver mist lies over the verdant water. At sunset, the sparkling waters reflect the brilliant colors of the westward heavens.

The spirited lower Toccoa is a favored challenge for whitewater rafters. A 13.5 rambunctious stretch of the lower Toccoa is rated as Class I to II rapids. Until the late 1980s, the rugged watery region was a bastion of moonshiners. Rafts often transported the bootlegged alcohol “down river”. Some sections of the waterway flow through private property. Posted areas should be respected.

Colorful Kayaks

When you are traveling through northern Georgia, be sure to make time to experience the splendid scenery, historic heritage and Appalachian culture that make the Toccoa corridor such a pleasurable place to relax and unwind. For more information or assistance in planning your trip, contact Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests,
 1755 Cleveland Highway,
Gainesville, Georgia, 30501 
or call (770) 297-3000.




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  1. "Chattahoochee National Forest." Wikipedia. 13/04/2013 <Web >
  2. "Union County, Georgia." Wikipedia. 13/04/2013 <Web >
  3. "Toccoa/Ocoee River." Wikipedia. 13/04/2013 <Web >
  4. "Appalachian Mountains." Wikipedia. 20/04/2013 <Web >

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