ATHENS — Georgia River Network and more than 300 canoe/kayak enthusiasts will return to the upper Flint River for Paddle Georgia 2020 next summer.
The organization’s annual weeklong paddling adventure takes place on a different Georgia river each year. The event is set for June 20-27, running on a 100-mile course from near Thomaston to Montezuma/Oglethorpe.
The upper Flint was voted among the favorite destinations of Paddle Georgia supporters and participants that responded to online surveys during recent months. This, despite the memory of Paddle Georgia 2008 on the Flint during which a historic drought left many participants jokingly referring to the journey as “Puddle Georgia” due to the extreme low water.
“That trip in 2008 had its challenges, but I think those who responded to the survey remember the river’s beauty as much or more than they remember the low water,” Paddle Georgia Coordinator Joe Cook said. “The river scenery through the Pine Mountain and Sprewell Bluff area is unsurpassed in Georgia.
“For paddlers familiar with Georgia rivers, this section is on everyone’s bucket list.”
Paddle Georgia is labeled the country’s largest weeklong canoe/kayak camping adventure with 300-400 people participating each year. Described by some as “summer camp for adults and families,” the event allows paddlers to experience seven days of paddling coupled with on-river and off-river education programs and entertainment, as well as communal camping and dining at unique locations.
Paddle Georgia 2020 will begin in Meriwether and Pike counties, coursing through the Pine Mountain area and Sprewell Bluff Wildlife Management Area before spilling over the fall line in shoals and rapids as it passes through Upson, Talbot, Taylor and Crawford counties. After flowing into the state’s Coastal Plain, it takes a winding course filled with sharp bends and oxbows to Montezuma and Oglethorpe.
On the river by day, the paddlers will camp at nearby facilities where catered meals, educational programs and entertainment will be served up nightly. Camp Thunder, a Boy Scouts of America Flint River Council facility in Molena and Fort Valley State University, will host the group as it makes its way downriver to a final destination celebration in Oglethorpe.
Proceeds from this year’s event will support Georgia River Network and Flint Riverkeeper. Since its inception in 2005, GRN’s Paddle Georgia has introduced more than 5,000 people to Georgia’s rivers while generating more than $500,000 for river protection and water trail development.
In recent years, GRN has worked with Flint Riverkeeper and other stakeholders to develop and establish the Flint River Water Trail and a statewide recreational boating trail network.
The trip is open to paddlers of all skill levels. Participants have ranged in age from 4 to 84. Registration for Paddle Georgia 2020 will open in early February. Registration fees range from around $70 to $425, and options are available for the seven-day journey as well as two-day portions of the trip.
Georgia River Network is a nonprofit organization working to ensure a clean water legacy by engaging and empowering Georgians to protect and restore our rivers from the mountains to the coast.
For more information about Paddle Georgia visit garivers.org/paddle-georgia.