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Photo by Alan Cressler via Flickr. Location: Tennessee River Gorge (Cash Canyon), Prentice Cooper State Forest, Marion County, Tennessee.

The Tennessee River flows for 652 miles in a complex pattern: from east Tennessee (with headwaters in North Carolina and Virginia), the river flows southwest to Alabama and then Mississippi, then crosses Tennessee and flows north to Kentucky, where it discharges into the Ohio River just above its confluence with the Mississippi River. It is one of the most biodiverse rivers in the temperate world. Georgia has several tributaries of the Tennessee, including Lookout Creek, West Chickamauga Creek, and the Nottely and Toccoa Rivers. The name Tennessee originates from a Cherokee settlement called Tanasi, as the Cherokee are the main people indigenous to the upper part of the basin. Despite the small amount of land area in Georgia, there is plenty to do- visitors flock to Cloudland Canyon, Black Rock Mountain, and Vogel State Parks to see Appalachian waterfalls and other beautiful features. Continue exploring the Tennessee below.


Most of the conservation efforts in the Tennessee basin are found in- you guessed it- Tennessee, rather than Georgia. However, just over the state line in Chattanooga, TN you can learn about conservation at the Tennessee Aquarium and the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute (TNACI). You can also visit the Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition to learn about conservation in other parts of the basin in Tennessee.

Read about conservation in the Tennessee at the Tennessee River Basin Network.

Learn about the EPD’s Fish Consumption Advisories online in the Guidelines for Eating Fish from Georgia’s Waters. You can also learn more about the EPD’s impaired waters data to see what rivers and streams in the basin are not supporting designated uses.

Photo by Alan Cressler via Flickr. Location: South Chickamauga Creek, Catoosa County, Georgia.


Check out well-loved hiking spots like Cloudland Canyon State ParkVogel State Park, or the Toccoa River Canoe Trail.

If you’re in Chattanooga, TN, definitely pay a visit to the Tennessee Aquarium.

Photo by Alan Cressler via Flickr. Location: Hiwassee River, Cherokee National Forest, Polk County, Tennessee. The Hiwassee River flows northwest through Tennessee to join the Tennessee River, but its headwaters are actually in north Georgia.


Learn more about the Tennessee, along with Georgia’s other amazing rivers, at Georgia Rivers, or at American Rivers’ site.

Take a tour at the Tennessee Aquarium or the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute (TNACI) to learn about conservation, water science, and natural history in the region.

Explore Georgia State-Protected species by watershed at the Georgia Biodiversity Portal.

Photo by Alan Cressler via Flickr.

Map of the Tennessee River Basin. Created by Anna Baynes (UGA River Basin Center).