The South River flows through the heritage area and is a headwater to the largest freshwater system in the state of Georgia.

The South River at Albert Shoals.

Urban River Recreation

The indigenous Muscogee people called the South River the Weelaunee, meaning “green water.” It is a headwater of the Ocmulgee River, which becomes the Altamaha River and drains to the Atlantic Ocean on Georgia’s coast. The South River begins in the city of East Point, just north of the Atlanta Airport, and flows 60 miles southeastwardly across Atlanta and the heritage area, offering metro area residents an escape from urban life. Great hikes along the South River include:

  • Arabia Mountain PATH near Panola Mountain
  • DeCastro Trailhead
  • Everett Park (kayak/canoe launch coming soon!)
  • Lorraine Park and Trailhead
  • Panola Shoals Trailhead
  • South River Water Trail
Paddlers take a break during one of the South River Watershed Alliance's guided paddles.

Environmental Justice

Pollution of the South River from DeKalb County’s sanitary sewer system goes back to 1961. The South River Watershed Alliance (SRWA, est. 2020) is a BPOC-led environmental organization that works to restore the river through awareness, advocacy and recreation. Today, thanks to the SRWA and its environmental justice focus, the river is an ideal location for paddling, birding, hiking, biking and exploring. The SRWA offers guided paddles on the river spring through fall. Sign up for those, as well as other events held by the SRWA, on their Events page.

SRWA Website

Recreation Is Restoration

Please CHECK-IN every time you visit the river! The SRWA is measuring recreational use and applying to upgrade the entire South River to “Recreational Use” with Georgia EPD. An upgrade would mean higher water quality standards and enforcement!

Forgot to check-in? It’s never too late. You can do so every time you recreate on or near the river and its tributaries.