Fifth Annual Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle, Withlacoochee River 2024-03-02

Update 2024-02-02: Now no fee required, thanks to a pledge from Georgia Power.


Fifth Annual Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle, Withlacoochee River

Valdosta, Georgia, January 29, 2024 — Join us on March 2nd for a leisurely paddle with the Mayor of Valdosta and the Chairman of Lowndes County on the Withlacoochee River, along the west side of the most populous city in the Suwannee River Basin, and along the site of future Troupville River Camp and Nature Park.

“The annual paddle event provides a unique opportunity for residents to come together and explore the natural beauties of Lowndes County, immersing themselves in the serenity of our waterways,” said Bill Slaughter, Chairman of the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners. “We encourage residents of all ages to come out and join us for a fun morning.”

“Together, we will showcase the natural beauty of our blackwater rivers and continue to work towards finding the most cost-effective solutions to educate our citizens and eliminate the trash that is littering our creeks and rivers,” said Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson. “With this event, we aim to empower our community and inspire everyone to take action towards protecting our precious waterways. It will take all of us working together to make a difference, and we are excited to lead the way towards a cleaner and more sustainable future.”

“Welcome to this one of our many paddles. All elected officials present, from both Florida and Georgia, get in free, and will have three minutes each to speak at the put-in. You can paddle up to them and ask questions,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “We have at least one daytime river paddle a month, in Florida or Georgia, plus an evening Full Moon paddle at Banks Lake, near Lakeland, GA.”

[FB: Paddlers 2023-03-04]
Paddlers 2023-03-04; Photo: John S. Quarterman

On a new route this year, we’ll go seven miles in four hours, with an early takeout.

Come as early as 8 AM, Saturday, March 2, 2024 to Langdale Park, drop off your boats, and drive to Troupville Boat Ramp. Shuttle from there back to Langdale Park.

One 15-seat van provided by the Boys & Girls Club will shuttle you back to Troupville. “We love supporting this event and giving back to our community! This is just another event that shows how good the Mayor and the Commission Chairman are always working together to help this community,” said Bill Holt, VP of Operations, Boys & Girls Club of Valdosta. This will be an outside event, but we will recommend those riders taking advantage of the shuttle service to please wear a mask.

We’ll paddle three miles from Langdale Park Boat Ramp through past Three Mile Branch to Sugar Creek with early takeout. On this all-wooded route it is hard to believe you are next to the most populous city in the Suwannee River Basin. There are no houses, but you may see creeks, oaks, cypresses, pines, fish, birds, and turtles. Valdosta is getting much better at keeping sewage out of the creeks and rivers.

“I’m happy to lead this paddle again,” said Phil Hubbard.

Stop at Sugar Creek to see the WaterGoat trash trap purchased by the City of Valdosta and cleaned out by volunteer Russell Allen McBride and family. That floating chain and net keeps much trash out of the river. There is more for the City of Valdosta to do about trash, but that WaterGoat was the start of current progress on that problem. If you want to stop there, you can take out below Berta’s Pizza Kitchen on Gornto Road.

“The South Georgia Film Festival is proud to support this year’s Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle,” said Jason Brown. South Georgia Film Festival Director. “As many of the available kayakers will be in attendance both at the paddle and that evening for the film screening on the campus of Valdosta State University.”

Then we’ll paddle another four miles under the Norfolk Southern Railroad Bridge, past Wood Valley Subdivision and Sheri Run, and the I-75 and GA 133 highway bridges.

Notice all the deadfalls (fallen dead trees) sawed out of the way by numerous WWALS Chainsaw Cleanups.

Just below GA 133, begins the Land Between The Rivers, the 71 acres Lowndes Countybought from Helen Tapp in December 2022. She noted, “Together with the 49 acres already owned by the Valdosta-Lowndes Parks and Recreation Authority, now there will be 120 contiguous acres in public stewardship, for recreation, reflection, exploration, interpretation, and celebration.” She would like it to be called Between the Rivers Nature Preserve or Troupville River Park and Nature Preserve.

Just before the Little River Confluence, on the right bank is the future site of a paddle boat take-out for Troupville River Camp, which will have screened-in sleeping platforms and bathrooms with hot and cold running water and air conditioning.

We’ll see the Confluence viewscape, with rivers in three directions.

After paddling a third of a mile up the Little River, we will take out at Troupville Boat Ramp. That’s at the site of historic Troupville, the Lowndes County seat before Valdosta. The entrance road is the old north-south Broad Street of Troupville, which continues into the woods. That greatly simplifies planning for the future Troupville River Park.

Take a look at the signs by the boat ramps for the WWALS Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail. They show the whole trail and what you can expect to see near the ramps.

When: Gather 8 AM, launch 10 AM, end 4 PM, Saturday, March 2, 2024

Put In: Langdale Park Boat Ramp, 3781 N. Valdosta Rd., Valdosta, GA 31602, off of I-75 Exit 22, North Valdosta Road.

GPS: 30.88747, -83.32395

Take Out: Troupville Boat Ramp, 19664 Valdosta Hwy, Valdosta, GA 31602. I-75 exit 18, west on GA 133 (St. Augustine Road) away from the Valdosta Mall, at the traffic light for Val Tech Road, turn left down to the boat ramp.

Bring: the usual personal flotation device, boat, paddles, food, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit.
Also trash pickers and trash bags: every WWALS outing is also a cleanup.

Tickets: This outing is $30 (thirty dollars) per boat as a fundraiser for WWALS. You can pay the $30 at the outing, or online:
And it’s free for elected officials.
We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!

Boat: bring your own boat, or there are outfitters who would be happy to provide one.


Paddle: 7 river miles, 4 hours.

Expedition leader: Phil Hubbard. Do what he says for safety and enjoyment.

Backup: in case of bad weather or high or low water, we will postpone or use the old route from Troupville Boat Ramp down to Spook Bridge.

About WWALS: Founded in June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) advocates for conservation and stewardship of the surface waters and groundwater of the Suwannee River Basin and Estuary, in south Georgia and north Florida, among them the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, Santa Fe, and Suwannee River watersheds, through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. Since December 2016, John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper®, which is a staff position and a project of WWALS as the member of Waterkeeper® Alliance for the Suwannee River Basin.

[Suwannee Riverkeeper logo] [WKA Member Logo 300px]

Contact: John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper
WWALS Watershed Coalition
[WWALS Logo]
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632

Sharah Denton, Public Information Officer
City of Valdosta
[Valdosta logo]

Meghan Barwick, Public Information Officer
Lowndes County
[Lowndes County logo]

Jason Brown, Director
South Georgia Film Festival
[South Georgia Film Festival logo]