Source of the Alapaha River 2020-02-27

What’s the source of the Alapaha River like? Well, it’s in some woods on private land in the edge of Dooly County, Georgia, was all I could say, other than a map and the GPS coordinates.

Thursday I happened to be near there, so I asked the landowner if I could go look, if I told other people not to go in there. She said if you get stuck there will be nobody to pull you out. I’ll walk, I said.

Through many catbriars and mud (without mud boots), I found something surprising:

[A mound!]
A mound!

Here’s a 360 degree movie from the top of the mound.

[Movie: View from the mound, 32.0572798, -83.6400845 (65M)]
Movie: View from the mound, (65M) 32.0572798, -83.6400845

The movie:

Looking downstream, this is the most upper reach of the Alapaha River.

[Downstream seen from the mound]
Downstream seen from the mound

Another view of the mound, from the other (northeast) side, looking across the precise USGS location of the source.

[Mound seen from the northeast, 32.0573666, -83.6398916]
Mound seen from the northeast, 32.0573666, -83.6398916

I didn’t see anything that looked like a spring. Apparently the Alapaha River is formed from two creeks that join at that point. Here is the northern branch:

[Slowly moving water]
Slowly moving water

The two branches run through these two lines of woods.

[Two branches, 32.0600440, -83.6421570]
Two branches, 32.0600440, -83.6421570

On this map you can see where the two creeks run into the woods that contain the source.

[Map: Source of the Alapaha River]
Map: Source of the Alapaha River
In WWALS map of the Alapaha River Water Trail (ARWT).

Google maps will direct you along GA 257 to turn south on Melon Lane. Nope, locked gate.

[Nope: Melon Lane off of GA 257]
Nope: Melon Lane off of GA 257

Looking back north from near the source, obviously you’re not going to get through that way.

[no go Melon Road]
no go Melon Road

It’s in there.

[Source is in there, looking ESE]
Source is in there, looking ESE

[South branch looking upstream (west)]
South branch looking upstream (west)

[South branch looking downstream (east)]
South branch looking downstream (east)

She wasn’t kidding about you could get stuck:

[Melon Lane to Source, 2020:02:27 13:08:38]
Melon Lane to Source, 2020:02:27 13:08:38

If the landowner’s request to stay out isn’t enough, maybe this downed tree covered with catbriars will convince you:

[Deadfall and catbriars, 2020:02:27 13:11:36]
Deadfall and catbriars, 2020:02:27 13:11:36

So, as near as I can tell, the source of the Alapaha River is where two small creeks join in some woods.

There’s also a mound, which is a little hard to explain as a natural phenomenon.

A few more pictures are on the WWALS website.

See also the Alapaha River Water Trail.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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