June 23: Piedmont Polka
The straightest shot of Paddle Georgia’s seven days, this 14-mile section of river runs almost directly south, with relatively few of the twists and turns that become the Ocmulgee’s signature below Macon. But don’t let the river’s intentional direction fool you. This is perhaps the most exciting day of the trip, and those who think rapids are found only in North Georgia will be in for a big surprise.
The river’s Class I and II rapids begin just below the Hwy 16 Bridge and for the next six miles you’ll find yourself weaving in and out of islands and through playful shoals that will keep you on your toes. The rapids reach a crescendo at Forty Acre Island, a massive island complex that holds one heart-pumping Class III rapid. The Paddle Georgia Navy will portage around this rapid, through historic mill ruins, before resuming the journey in calmer water below this dramatic falls near the Fall Line.
Throughout the paddle’s length, the river is flanked on the east by the Oconee National Forest which keeps the scenery mostly wild.
The day ends at Ga. 83 where a developed boat ramp makes for easy take out—an amenity that veterans of Paddle Georgia 2006 on the Etowah will certainly appreciate! In fact, you can get used to it. All of Paddle Georgia’s launch/take out sites are located at developed boat ramps. No climbing gear will be needed this year!
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