The Tugaloo River is becoming a designated Water Trail in the state of Georgia. A meeting will be held on March 7 at 6 pm in the Mitchell Allen room (at the Chamber of Commerce and Currahee Military Museum) to discuss the steps involved. The community is invited to attend this informative meeting.

Gwyneth Moody, Director of Program and Outreach for the Georgia River Network, will help to lead this meeting and will provide an overview of Georgia Water Trails and also cover what’s involved/required to become a designated trail along with the benefits to the community.

Over the past few months, the Stephens County Foundation board has taken steps to see the Tugaloo River named as a Water Trail. Once it is named, it will join the ranks of other important rivers in the State of Georgia including the Upper and Lower Chattahoochee River, the Chattooga River, the Broad River, the Yellow River, the Altamaha River, Etowah River, the Toccoa River, the Satilla River, and more.

What is a Water Trail?

Water trails are the equivalent of a hiking trail. Blueways, canoe trails, and paddle trails are all Water Trails. A Water Trail has access points along the river, like trailheads, for putting boats in the water or taking them out. At this point, the Tugaloo River Water Trail will have a put in at the Walker Creek boat ramp and the county park at Georgia Highway 123 or the Broken Bridges Park.

Water Trails are suitable for day-trips in canoes or kayaks. Water Trails can be various lengths and are used by paddlers, anglers, hikers, and picnickers of all ages and ability. They have many benefits for relatively little investment.

Communities build Water Trails for four reasons: river conservation, recreation, to promote healthy lifestyles, and economic benefits. A Water Trail can boost economic growth. The Georgia River Network states on their website that in less than 10 years, hiking and trail activity, including paddling Water Trails, will become the number one outdoor activity, and tourism will be the number three industry in the US.

Right now, the outdoor recreation industry generates 1.8 billion dollars in state and local revenue each year. It provides 238, 000 jobs and there are approximately 1 million paddlers in Georgia alone. These paddlers spend 11.3 billion annually on canoeing, kayaking, and rafting. Fifty-eight percent of our state residents participate in outdoor recreation each year.

What A Water Trail means to Stephens County

It will offer residents an opportunity to get out on the Tugaloo River and enjoy it. It also offers a point of pride and once it is designated as an official Water Trail in the State of Georgia, it will open the doors to paddlers who want to visit our community from around the country. This means a boost to local businesses. The Tugaloo River History Tour held each Memorial Day Weekend (this year May 25) is already drawing paddlers from five surrounding states.

A River Trail also provides a way for citizens to become involved with the river through preservation, clean up days, and other ways of support. While the Stephens County Foundation board is taking the lead in seeing the Tugaloo River named The Tugaloo River Water Trail, the river ultimately belongs to the to the citizens of Stephens County and the state of Georgia. This means community input and support is key to the success and the growth of this Water Trail.

Once designated, The Tugaloo River will also be promoted as a place to visit on Explore Georgia and the Paddle Georgia network. For more information about the Georgia River Network and Water Trails visit: www.garivers.org.

Stephens County Foundation
Contact: Angie Ramage 770-310-4661