Submitted by April Ingle of the Georgia River Network
You can see the Paddle 12 in 2012 project page.
The idea of community water trails is extremely popular right now and over 30 trails in Georgia are either in the works or completed. A water trail (also referred to as a blueway or canoe trail) is similar to a hiking trail or greenway, only on the water.
Water trails are being recognized for their benefits to communities which include recreation, economic development, healthy lifestyles, greenspace and more.
“Georgia River Network believes that getting people out on rivers is an effective way to introduce people to river issues and engage them in protection of their local waterways,” says April Ingle, Georgia River Network executive director. “Our annual Paddle Georgia trip down a different river each year is our most popular program. People want more opportunities to connect with Georgia’s wonderful rivers.”
A few examples of some of the trails in Georgia that are featured on the website include:
• The Altamaha Canoe Trail offers 138 miles of trail, originating near Lumber City at the confluence of the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers, emptying and into the Atlantic Ocean. On the canoe trail, you will float past numerous Wildlife Management Areas and Natural Areas, tidal swamps, and rich bottomland forests. The Altamaha River has been designated by The Nature Conservancy as one of the 75 “Last Great Places” in the world.
• The Augusta Canal, leftover from the industrial era, remains intact and offers three levels for paddlers and hikers to enjoy. On the first level paddlers can float through unique granite ledges and experience wildlife that has returned to take advantage of the newly formed wetland refuge. The second and third level flow through downtown and are less accessible than the first level. The canal has earned designations under the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmark and is part of the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area.
• The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area offers 48 miles of river trail available for raft, canoe, kayak and motorboat use year round. The trail begins below Buford dam offering cold-water trout fishing, class I/II shoals, and many accessible boat ramps to plan any length float.
• The Upper Chattahoochee Canoe Trail is approximately 39 miles long and is located above Lake Lanier, beginning at the confluence of Sautee Creek and the Chattahoochee in White County and ending at Clarks Bridge County Park. There are 7 access points along the corridor that can be used by boaters. Wildwood Outfitters provides access to several DNR sites that are not yet open to full public access. Contact www.wildwoodoutfitters.com or 706-865-4451.
• Chattooga National Wild and Scenic River - A 28-mile portion of the Chattooga River was designated as a National Wild and Scenic River in the early 1970s and is managed by the US Forest Service. Wild and Scenic designation protects rivers from development and flow alteration. There are 5 access points over the 28 miles, and there are three separate sections divided more or less by class of rapids.
• The Okefenokee Wilderness Area offers over 400,000 acres of wetlands and swamps to explore with seven overnight shelters. Paddlers can float through cypress forests, wet prairies and pine uplands with plenty of opportunity to see a variety of wildlife.
• The Ocmulgee Heritage Trail in Macon is a multi-use park that offers a riverside park for hiking and biking trails, and offers several lengths of water trails through the park. The put in is located at Amerson Water Works Park and the take out is located at Spring Street.
• The Ocmulgee Blueway Project, a project with partners from Bleckley, Houston, Twiggs and Pulaski Counties, consists of approximately 54 miles of blueway on the Ocmulgee flowing through all four counties. The ultimate hope is that the canoe trail connects to Macon and to the Altamaha and then to the Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail on the Georgia coast.
• St. Mary’s River Paddling Trail - The St. Mary’s is a blackwater stream that originates in the Okefenokee. It serves as the border between Florida and Georgia at the southernmost tip of Georgia. Florida Greenways and Trails has designated the stretch from the Highway 121 bridge at McClenny to Scotts Landing in Boulogne as a state paddling trail. The St. Mary's River Management Committee (SMRMC), which is an interlocal agreement between the four counties sharing the river- Camden & Charlton in Georgia and Baker & Nassau in Florida- also works for the protection of the St. Mary’s, sponsoring an annual river cleanup, and the St. Mary’s River Celebration.
• The Toccoa River Canoe Trail located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia begins at the Deep Hole Recreation Area and flows 13.8 miles to the take out at Sandy Bottoms. The trail offers excellent fishing opportunities and some rapids for the whitewater enthusiast.
• The Southeast Coastal Paddling Trail-Georgia Section - The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Coastal Resources Division and Coastal Resources Commission have created a Georgia coastal trail that will connect with existing trails that reach from Chesapeake Bay all the way to the state of Florida.
Learn more about the Ga. Rivers Network.