The Chestatee River originates in Lumpkin County at the confluence of Dicks Creek and Frogtown Creek near the junction of US Highways 19 and 129 and empties into Lake Sydney Lanier before leaving the county. There are several locations north of Dahlonega where the river level drops rapidly creating shoals and small falls like that shown above. In the northern part of the county the river water is cool enough to support trout. Most of the area through which the river flows is private property although the river passes through the city limits of Dahlonega and winds through the Achasta golf community. Float trips are possible through commercial operators and there is a county operated access area on Hwy. 60 near and north of the junction of Hwy. 60 and Hwy. 400.
The name Chestatee is derived from a Cherokee Indian word meaning "fire light place" referring to the "fire-hunting" method of hunting deer at night.