Alapaha River Water Trail (ARWT)

Trail Description:Table of Contents

300x388 First place Maya Turner, in Logo Winners, by Deanna Mericle, 14 March 2015 The Alapaha River Water Trail connects about 125 miles of the 202-mile Alapaha River from US 82 in Berrien County, Georgia to the Suwannee River in Hamilton County, Florida; see Map. Its tea-colored tannin waters class it as a blackwater river, flowing below bald cypress, longleaf, slash, and loblolly pines, and majestic oaks, with great blue herons, snapping turtles, alligators, and fish.

Mostly flat, the Alapaha River also contains rapids, many springs, and the Alapaha Sink and the Dead River Sink where it goes underground until it comes back up in the Alapaha Rise. Covering its entire flood plain in the rainy season, and less than a foot deep in spots during dry spells, the Alapaha River is a treasure and a challenge. The Alapaha River Water Trail also includes the Alapahoochee River, as well as many lakes, ponds, and swamps that are boatable year round.

Table of Contents:
Trail Description,
   Wild and Scenic,
   Many Years of Harmony,
   Etiquette,
   Lakes, Ponds, and Swamps,
River Basin,
   Location,
Distance,
Access Points,
Classification of Trail,
   Water Levels,
   Float Plan,
Outfitters,
Overnight Trip Option,
Website,
Map and Spreadsheet,
Sponsors and Partners,
Contact Information,
Nearest Population Center,
Media,
Implementation,
GRN grant documents,
Context.

Wild and Scenic

The Alapaha River was described as “unspoiled, wild, and scenic” in the 1979 Soil Survey of Lowndes County. It is described as “Jungle-like in its remoteness and luxurious with exotic vegetation, the dark reddish-brown waters of the Alapaha wind through a swampy wonderland teeming with wildlife” by Brown’s Guide to Georgia, and rates an “A+” for scenery by Canoeing & Kayaking Georgia.

Many Years of Harmony
The Alapaha River has been used for years by canoeists and boaters in harmony with local landowners. In Brown’s Guide Suzanne Welander refers to the Alapaha Canoe Trail, as she did in A Canoeing and Kayaking Guide to Georgia, by Suzanne Welander, Bob Sehlinger and Don Otey, 2004, and as mentioned in Southern Georgia Canoeing by Bob Sehlinger and Don Otey, 1980. The Alapaha River may still be, as described in 1970s brochures, “Georgia’s Cleanest River”. This time, WWALS is acknowledging more long-used access points upstream and downstream into Florida, where the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) has long included the Alapaha River in Florida as part of the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail.

Etiquette
And of course we promote Water Trail safety and etiquette.

Lakes, Ponds, and Swamps
Plus the Alapaha River Watershed contains lakes, ponds, and swamps such as Banks Lake in Lanier County, Grand Bay in Lowndes County, and the Carolina Bays in Atkinson County, renowned for their fishing, alligators, turtles, birds, cypresses, and pines, and streams including the Alapahoochee River. Existing hiking and biking trails can be linked to the Water Trail to encourage more multi-purpose participation.

The Alapaha River is not readily boatable upstream in Tift, Turner, Crisp, and Dooly Counties, nor on the Willacoochee River in Irwin, Ben Hill, and Wilcox Counties.

River Basin

Suwannee River Basin
9,950 square miles, 5,720 in Georgia and 4,230 in Florida.

Location

Alapaha River watershed
1,840 square miles, 1,726 in Georgia and 114 in Florida.

Distance

Alapaha River, in Alapaha River Water Trail, by John S. Quarterman, for WWALS.net 300x670 Alapaha River, Lakeland, Lanier County, GA, Jennings, Hamilton County, FL, in Streamer, by John S. Quarterman, for WWALS.net, 4 July 2014 202 miles: Alapaha River from its source in Dooly County, Georgia, to its confluence with the Suwannee River in Hamilton County, Florida.

125 miles: Alapaha River Water Trail from US 82 to the Suwannee River, plus many lakes, ponds, and swamps to the side.

Access Points

12 public access points, including 7 existing canoe launches or boat ramps and one in process. See the ARWT Access web page.

Classification of Trail

Class 1 Rapids with mostly flatwater, on an undammed blackwater river with no industrial development and no large point sources of pollution.

Water Levels

300x129 Record year 2009, in Alapaha River gauge heights over time, by John S. Quarterman, for WWALS.net, 1 December 2014 Alapaha River water levels fluctuate, and the river may be canoeable or floatable only a few weeks or months per year. All the record high levels have been in January through April, but the Alapaha River can be high in almost any other month. Paddle times may vary widely depending on ability of the paddler and the level of the water; going may be especially slow at low water levels, due to deadfalls in the river.

300x214 Statenville, GA 02317500, in Alapaha River gauge heights over time, by John S. Quarterman, for WWALS.net, 1 December 2014 For example in the middle parts of the river, when the Statenville gauge shows more than 6 feet, it is too high to paddle; less than 2 feet is too low.

WWALS includes high and low water indicators in the printed materials for different sections of the river, and online along with the current water levels online, using the gauges at Jennings, FL, at Statenville, GA, at US 82 near Alapaha, and at GA 125/32 near Irwinville.

Meanwhile, there are deep areas (lakes) on the river that are boatable most of the year, and lakes in the Alapaha River watershed that are boatable year-round.

Float Plan

WWALS provides a float plan form for boaters to fill out and file, so friends and, if unfortunately necessary, emergency responders can find them.

Outfitters

Many outfitters: see separate web page.

300x239 ARWT Outfitters, in Alapaha River Water Trail, by John S. Quarterman, for WWALS.net, 27 March 2015

Overnight Trip Option

Yes. No reservation, permit or fee required in Georgia for rough camping on islands.

Camping on SRWMD lands in Florida is free with a permit, obtainable by calling SRWMD at 386.362.1001.

QR Code, by John S. Quarterman, for WWALS.net, 12 March 2015 Website

http://www.wwals.net/maps/alapaha-water-trail/

Map and Spreadsheet

Follow this link for an interactive ARWT map.

See also major access points, all points, and points by Categories on the ARWT.

The current draft map and other maps in development are drawn from an underlying ARWT spreadsheet.

Printed and going to outfitters, motels, businesses, Chambers, near you: Map, Brochure, and Card all in one.

300x411 ARWT, in Alapaha River Water Trail, by John S. Quarterman, 7 April 2015

Sponsoring Organizations and Partners:

WWALS Watershed Coalition through a $500 grant from Georgia River Network, requesting sponsorship from Tift, Atkinson, Berrien, Lanier, Lowndes, Echols Counties, Georgia, and Hamilton County, Florida, cities near the river, businesses, and other organizations.

Contact Information

Chris Graham, Chair, Alapaha Water Trail Committeee, protectiongeorgiawatershed@gmail.com

John S. Quarterman, President, WWALS Watershed Coalition, wwalswatershed@gmail.com

Nearest Population Center

Valdosta 55,000 population and Lake Park 734 (Lowndes County 113,000), Tifton 16,000 (Tift County 40,000), Alapaha 658 and Nashville 4,903 (Berrien County 19,000), Willacoochee 1,391 (Atkinson County 8,290), Lakeland 3,398 (Lanier County 10,408), Statenville (Echols County 4,000), and Jennings 833 and Jasper 4,221 (Hamilton County, Florida 14,000).

See also WWALS Cities and Counties.

Media 300x225 The winners: Honorable Mention Codi Sadler, Second Place Taarna Jones, First Place Maya Turner. Third Place Glenda Velasquez not pictured, plus ARWT Chair Chris Graham and logo contest coordinator Deanna Mericle, in Logo Winners, by Deanna Mericle,

See also News.

Implementation:

GRN grant documents:

Context

67 thoughts on “Alapaha River Water Trail (ARWT)

  1. Pingback: Alapaha River @ US 84: endpoint of Sunday's WWALS Outing 24 August 2014 - WWALS Watershed Coalition

  2. Pingback: Counties and Cities in WWALS Watersheds - WWALS Watershed Coalition

  3. Pingback: Alapaha River Cleanup at US 82, 27 September 2014 - WWALS Watershed Coalition

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  42. Pingback: Florida lists WWALS for Alapaha River Water Trail - WWALS Watershed Coalition

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  44. Pingback: Update: Sabal Trail Pipeline, Alapaha, Suwannee, and Withlacoochee Rivers, WWALS Outing 2015-08-15 - WWALS Watershed Coalition

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  54. Pingback: Stranded campers rescued from Alapaha River above GA 135 2016-01-16 | WWALS Watershed Coalition

  55. Pingback: WWALS Outings and Events late 2015 – early 2016 | WWALS Watershed Coalition

  56. Pingback: Hotchkiss Road to Mayday, Alapaha River 2016-04-23 | WWALS Watershed Coalition

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