Stories from the Ocmulgee Basin

4/20/2012 - Tri-River Paddle: Oconee, Ocmulgee, Altamaha

This was a “three rivers” paddle with the GA Conservancy.  We camped overnight then paddled the Ocmulgee the next day to where it meets the Oconee to form the Altamaha.  There is something very inviting about paddling at the actual spot where a great river originates!  Most folks paddled through the confluence—which looks very much like a highway intersection, with three clearly delineated paths—and straight onto the Altamaha. But we wanted to have a true “three rivers” experience.  So off we went, upstream on the Oconee.  It was only half a mile or so, but since we spent a week on the Oconee last year on Paddle GA, we figured our old friend wouldn’t mind a brief visit. 

Suzi Parron

4/13/2012 - 4/15/2012 -- Alcovy River 

Two compatriots and I decided to paddle the Alcovy River from I-20 to Lake Jackson. Our planner, Richard, decided it would take 3 days to paddle this 28 miles. Brandon and I scoffed, "we paddled more than this every day of our previous 5 day trip.  We'll finish the first day!" Alas, 'twas not to be.

We put in under I-20 just east of Covington (don't look for the put-in, you won't find one ;-). Brandon and I dropped off with the boats then Richard drove to the Wal-Mart to leave the truck and walk back. While he was gone we prepared gear for the trip. Apparently many people lose dunnage along the interstate because Richard returned with an armload of straps and bungy cords.

We started paddling at 9:15. Shortly we ran into a river-wide deadfall. We're experienced paddlers and have paddled together several times so we crossed without any problem. Then another deadfall, then another. We crossed under, over, or around all without problem. Then we paddled into a cul-de-sac. Yes, a cul-de-sac on the river. None of us had ever seen such. After much discussion we got out of our boats and searched the swamp for the river. We took GPS to help find the river so we have a track of our search (see wheres-the-river.jpg ). Eventually we discovered that the feeder stream above on river left wasn't a feeder but was, in fact, our river, the Alcovy.

We hadn't paddled a mile before we again ran out of river. This time we didn't take the GPS while hiking, and never did figure out how they joined but we did find the river about 1/4 mile away through the woods. We walked our boats through the woods (see crossing-the-woods.jpg) and were on our way again. There was much more river-wide deadfall that day but we had a great time. We paddled a total of 4.3 miles that first day and started worrying that we might not make Lake Jackson in 3 days.

There was some deadfall on the second day but not nearly as much. We made 10.2 miles and felt much better. The third day we paddled more than walked but did have to rope our boats down the largest drop at Factory Shoals because the water was too low to paddle. We also had to walk some in the top of Lake Jackson due to the low water, but we paddled up to Martin's Marina at 6:00 p.m. on the third day, just in time to have a beer and a wonderful dinner before heading home.

All-in-all I had a great time on this trip and I think Brandon and Richard did too. I would not recommend the upper sections to inexperienced paddlers or to anyone who was uncomfortable with whatever-the-river holds, adventure paddling but would recommend the middle section. 

Glen Smith

Mary Siceloff & LIz Williams' Paddle # 9... 

Mary Siceloff & LIz Williams' Paddle # 8... 

November 4, 2012 - COMPLETION OF 12 IN 2012 CHALLENGE!!!

I finished my 12 rivers in 2012! Here they are:

1. Oconee March 6
2. Broad march 15
3. Etowah April 21, Aug 18
4. Notelly May 27
5. Chattahoochee June 9
6. Oostanaula Aug 11
7. Coosa Aug 18
8. Conasauga Sept 2
9. Chestatee Sept 8
10. Yellow Sept 15
11. Soque Sept 29
12. Ocmulgee Nov 4

It was fun and I'm glad to be done. Paddling the 12 was a great opportunity to experience some rivers that I had never been on before. I had hoped to get further south in Georgia to paddle some of the more southern rivers (Flint, Altamaha, Savannah, Ochlockonee), but I guess I'll have to try to hit those another time.
Now I'm going to start mountain biking again...

Patrick Phelps

Summer, 2012 - South River

Paddle # 11 - I and a small group of paddlers have spent several afternoons on the South River in Dekalb County paddling when we can and wading when we have to to clean the river. On ONE day we documented about 1000 tires in a three mile stretch as well as picked up nearly 500 golf balls from the creek! It is too bad that residents have used the creek as a tire dump for so very long. We are slowly cleaning short stretches and so far have taken 500 tires from 3 sections along the river.

- Bobby Marie

*** Thanks for your dedication and hard work on this one, Bobby!! - GRN crew

2/26/2012 – Ocmulgee River

Our 12 in 2012 River challenge has begun. For the past two weekends we have been paddling on the Ocmulgee River. I am uploading some of the photos from those trips on the website now. Check them out at 

*** 10% of all proceeds from purchases from this gallery goes to Georgia River Network
Rena Johnson, Tour for A Cure Photography

1/30/2012 – Oconee, Ocmulgee, and Altamaha Rivers 

Here are some photos (see photos on Altamaha page) and a really short narrative for the first three of 12 rivers I paddled this year for the GRN Paddle 12 Rivers in 2012.

Our group of four kayakers, the Oconee Oarsome Expedition of 2012, paddled the lower Oconee, the lower Ocmulgee and the upper Altamaha on January 13-16, 2012. Joining me were Steve Craven, Brown Widener and Gary Crider, who also enrolled in the 12 in 12 challenge.

We put in January 13 on the Oconee at the U.S. 280 bridge just west of Mount Vernon, spent two nights camping on sandbars on the Oconee, then paddled to the confluence of the Oconee and Ocmulgee. We paddled up the Ocmulgee to camp on a sandbar, then returned to the Forks and headed east on the Altamaha two miles to the take-out where U.S. 221 crosses the river at Terry Landing.

Weather was clear but cold. Water levels were low. So, sandbars lined the outside of nearly every bend. Firewood was abundant on the bars, so we stayed pretty warm. We saw and heard many bird species (kingfishers and great blue herons were common), heard beavers and saw their tracks, and saw lots of other wildlife sign. The Oconee has only one highway bridge between U.S. 280 and the Forks. Traffic noise was light. So, we really felt like we were in the backwoods.

Roger Nielsen