Paddle Georgia Trip Highlights Emerging Water Trails
Wednesday, March 14th, 2018
The country’s largest week-long canoe-kayak camping adventure this year embarks on the Yellow and Ocmulgee Rivers between Stone Mountain and Macon to highlight Georgia’s emerging water trail system.
The event, which attracts more than 400 participants each year, is set for June 16-22. Registration for the annual event organized by Georgia River Network opens Wednesday at www.garivers.org/paddle_georgia. Registration is on a first-come, first serve basis until all spaces are sold.
The 14th annual Paddle Georgia charts a four-day course through suburban Atlanta on the Yellow River in Gwinnett, Rockdale and Newton counties to Lake Jackson and then continues for three more days on the Ocmulgee River, flowing through Jasper, Butts, Monroe and Jones counties before finishing in Macon.
Local river boosters, with assistance from Georgia River Network, are developing water trails on both the Yellow and Ocmulgee by improving public access to the rivers, providing information about river conditions and promoting events on these rivers.
“During the past several years, we’ve seen an explosion in water trail development,” said Gwyneth Moody, director of programs and outreach with Georgia River Network. “Local communities are rediscovering their rivers and recognizing them as a recreational amenity for residents and visitors on par with ballfields, parks, walking trails and other more traditional public recreation projects.”
Paddle Georgia participants will utilize many of these facilities, including camping for four nights at Porterdale’s Yellow River Park along the river in the heart of the historic Newton County textile mill village.
“We chose to venture on the Yellow and Ocmulgee this year largely because of the work taking place on the rivers to improve access and promote their use for recreational activities,” said Joe Cook, Paddle Georgia Coordinator. “This is a chance for people to see two rivers that don’t get as much attention as some of the headline-stealing rivers like the Chattahoochee and Flint.”
Registration fees are $425 for adults, $230 for children 8-17 and $30 for children 7 and under. A very limited number of spaces are available for “Paddle Georgia Lite,” an abbreviated version of the trip that includes either the first two days of the trip (June 16-17) or the last two days of the trip (June 21-22). Registration fees for Paddle Georgia Lite are $120, $70 and $15. Additional registration information is available at www.garivers.org/paddle_georgia.
The event, billed as an environmental education adventure for the whole family, is designed to connect people with Georgia’s rivers. In addition to paddling about 12 miles each day, participants will learn about the river through nightly programs about the river’s ecology and cultural history and special tours of historic sites and industrial facilities. A street party is planned in Porterdale on June 17 featuring music, food and canoe tug-o-war competitions.
Paddle Georgia serves as a fundraiser for Georgia River Network and local watershed protection groups. Since the inaugural Paddle Georgia in 2005, GRN has introduced more than 4,000 paddlers to more than 1300 miles of water trails on 13 Georgia rivers. Along the way the event has generated more than $400,000 for river protection. Yellow River Water Trail, Ocmulgee River Water Trail and Altamaha Riverkeeper will be the local groups benefitting from this year’s event.