It could use some markers to keep people on it and off private property, and maybe some loaner kayak wheels, but there is public access to the Withlacoochee River off of Gornto Road in Valdosta.
Tea-colored water, 16:22:37,, Withlacoochee River 30.8623900, -83.3224600
And a very nice blackwater river it is.
Movie: Upstream and down (15M),, Withlacoochee River 30.8623900, -83.3224500
TV monitor, 16:24:02,, Withlacoochee River 30.8623900, -83.3224600
Typical view, 16:24:03,, Withlacoochee River 30.8623900, -83.3224600
It’s the very picture of a blackwater river.
Blackwater river winter, 16:26:55,, Tea-colored water 30.8620271, -83.3225940
Eddies, 16:27:03,, Tea-colored water 30.8620271, -83.3225940
Swirls, 16:27:06,, Tea-colored water 30.8620271, -83.3225940
It’s about 1300 feet (a quarter of a mile) from the road to the river, but you could easily wiggle back and forth a few more hundred feet to get there.
That’s nothing compared to hauling kayaks up and down the loose rock embankment at US 84 or the sand bank at Mayday, but it’s still a long way to drag a kayak.
Looking down towards the river, 16:17:19,, Walking down 30.8589737, -83.3211810
Below the lift station, 16:17:41,, Walking down 30.8623900, -83.3224600
So wheels would be useful.
Blocks to cross on, 16:18:05,, Wetlands 30.8623900, -83.3224700
Titi and blackgum, 16:18:06,, Wetlands 30.8623900, -83.3224800
Plenty of cypress knees, 16:18:14,, Wetlands 30.8623900, -83.3224900
Deadfall, 16:20:09,, Downed tree 30.8603582, -83.3226704
Probably Hurricane Irma did this, 16:20:42,, Downed tree 30.8603580, -83.3226700
The Lowndes County Tax Assessors online database doesn’t know anything about this parcel, not even a parcel number. I called their office, and they don’t know who owns it.
VALOR GIS doesn’t know either, although it does show most of that sliver as NWI wetlands (and floodplain). Also note the grey line indicating Valdosta City Limits does not include that sliver of land.
The City of Valdosta didn’t know, either, when I called them. Not even Larry Hanson knew.
Nobody at the county knew when I called them.
However, if nobody else owns it, presumably the county does. According to Lowndes County’s Commissioner District Map, it’s in District 3 (Mark Wisenbaker) and Super District 5 (Clay Griner). The jagged purple line is the boundary between Super District 5 (west) and Super District 4 (east). The green line is Valdosta City Limits. The Withlacoochee River is indicated in part as the boundary between County Commission District 3 and District 2 (Scottie Orenstein).
With google maps, 2410 Gornto Road, Valdosta, GA, gets you to the right place, which is just southwest of the entrance to the YMCA, below the fence of Valdosta’s big new sewer system pump station.
This pump station, pushing sewage uphill through a force main out of the local neighborhoods, is a key piece of Valdosta’s tens of million dollar plan, mostly now completed, to fix its sewage spills.
Thanks to Valdosta-Lowndes County Family YMCA, specifically Cheryl Maddox, Programs Director, and to Sidney Rigdon, Property Manager, for discovering this public access and organizing WWALS visiting it.
There are a few impediments to paddling.
Could get stuck on that, 16:24:18,, Deadfalls 30.8623900, -83.3224600
Open to the left, 16:25:41,, Deadfalls 30.8615425, -83.3226081
Movie: View of deadfalls, 16:39:20, (5.0M), Deadfalls 30.8615420, -83.3226080
Could use some cleanups.
Island, 16:27:28,, Paddling impediment 30.8620271, -83.3225940
Watch out for limbs, 16:27:23,, Paddling impediment 30.8620271, -83.3225940
Duck, 16:28:16,, Paddling impediment 30.8620271, -83.3225940
Trash on left bank, 16:28:25,, Paddling impediment 30.8620271, -83.3225940
Bigger limb to duck under, 16:28:27,, Paddling impediment 30.8620271, -83.3225940
When the water’s high, duck!
Cypress knees and river, 16:28:44,, In the river 30.8620271, -83.3225940
Sidney Rigdon (YMCA Property Manager), Bobby McKenzie (WWALS), Tom Potter (WWALS Board), 16:29:14,, In the river 30.8619291, -83.3225616
Didn’t see any beaver dams, but there were other signs.
Gnaws, 16:32:31,, Beaver 30.8629110, -83.3221500
People could take their trash out with them.
Trash chair, 16:38:14,, Heading back 30.8623900, -83.3224500
Trash chair closeup, 16:51:05,, Heading back 30.8623900, -83.3224400
Hunting blind, 16:39:20,, Heading back 30.8626790, -83.3221928
Railroad tracks, 16:37:29,, River near RR 30.8626555, -83.3222330
Deadfalls and foam, 16:41:59,, River near RR 30.8626557, -83.3222330
Foam closeup, 16:42:02,, River near RR 30.8626557, -83.3222330
That’s natural foam from tannic acid from oak leaves.
And back out the way we came. Paddlers arriving from upstream could really use some markers to find their way to the egress.
Plenty of palmetto, 16:51:33,, Out 30.8627130, -83.3221930
Leaves and roots, 16:51:54,, Out 30.8627120, -83.3221936
Fence post, 16:52:16,, Out 30.8619591, -83.3219463
Four-wheeler trail, 16:52:28,, Out 30.8619591, -83.3219463
Runoff, 16:53:15,, Out 30.8619591, -83.3219460
It turns out there is public access to the Withlacoochee River off of Gornto Road. That’s in Council Gibbs district, actually. There’s a little sliver of land just to the left of the lift station that actually, according to a map the YMCA has, has always been public access. So I regard that as good news.
Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman to Valdosta Mayor and Council, 2018-01-25, courtesy Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).
You can put in at Langdale Park and paddle down, a nice short paddle. Or go down from there to what many people call the prison boat ramp, at Troupville Landing. There’s a number of possibilities there. Recreation on the river, right in Valdosta.
This area is also within the project area of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers May 2014 proposal to put a levee at Sugar Creek, on the other side of the Norfolk Southern railroad bridge. Fortunately, the Valdosta City Council rejected that Corps plan. The Corps sought funding for a larger flooding study, but no funding has materialized. At least it’s pretty clear nobody will be building in that flood plain anymore.
It’s a welcome addition to the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.
The idea of searching for access to the Withlacoochee River from Gornto Road came from Phil Hubbard, WWALS Outings Committee Chair. He couldn’t get off work for this hike to the river, but he’s involved in further activities here.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!