The Alapaha River Water Trail connects about 128 miles of the 202-mile Alapaha River from Sheboggy Boat Ramp (US 82) in Berrien County, Georgia to the Suwannee River in Hamilton County, Florida. Plus 11 of the 14 miles of the Alapahoochee River, which flows from near Statenville, Georgia to join the Alapaha in Hamilton County.
The Alapaha and Alapahoochee’s tea-colored tannin waters class them as blackwater rivers, flowing below bald cypress, longleaf, slash, and loblolly pines, and majestic oaks, with great blue herons, snapping turtles, alligators, and fish.
Mostly flat, the Alapaha River also contains rapids, many springs, and the Alapaha Sink. Its distributary the one-mile Dead River ends in the Dead River Sink, where it goes underground much of the year, until the water comes back up 19 miles and three days later in the Alapaha River Rise on the Suwannee River. Covering its entire flood plain in the rainy season, and less than a foot deep in spots during dry spells, the Alapaha River is a treasure and a challenge. The Alapaha River Water Trail also includes the Alapahoochee River, as well as many lakes, ponds, and swamps that are boatable year round.
Table of Contents:
Wild and Scenic,
Many Years of Harmony,
Lakes, Ponds, and Swamps,
Classification of Trail,
Overnight Trip Option,
Map and Spreadsheet,
Sponsors and Partners,
Nearest Population Center,
GRN grant documents,
Wild and Scenic
The Alapaha River was described as “unspoiled, wild, and scenic” in the 1979 Soil Survey of Lowndes County. It is described as “Jungle-like in its remoteness and luxurious with exotic vegetation, the dark reddish-brown waters of the Alapaha wind through a swampy wonderland teeming with wildlife” by Brown’s Guide to Georgia, and rates an “A+” for scenery by Canoeing & Kayaking Georgia.
Many Years of Harmony
The Alapaha River has been used for years by canoeists and boaters in harmony with local landowners. In Brown’s Guide Suzanne Welander refers to the Alapaha Canoe Trail, as she did in A Canoeing and Kayaking Guide to Georgia, by Suzanne Welander, Bob Sehlinger and Don Otey, 2004 (see also her more recent Canoeing & Kayaking Georgia), and as mentioned in Southern Georgia Canoeing by Bob Sehlinger and Don Otey, 1980. The Alapaha River may still be, as described in 1970s brochures, “Georgia’s Cleanest River”. This time, WWALS is acknowledging more long-used access points upstream and downstream into Florida, where the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) has long included the Alapaha River in Florida as part of the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail.
Lakes, Ponds, and Swamps
Plus the Alapaha River Watershed contains lakes, ponds, and swamps such as Banks Lake in Lanier County, Grand Bay in Lowndes County, and the Carolina Bays in Atkinson County, renowned for their fishing, alligators, turtles, birds, cypresses, and pines, and streams including the Alapahoochee River. Existing hiking and biking trails can be linked to the Water Trail to encourage more multi-purpose participation.
The Alapaha River is not readily boatable upstream in Tift, Turner, Crisp, and Dooly Counties, nor on the Willacoochee River in Irwin, Ben Hill, and Wilcox Counties.
202 miles: Alapaha River from its source in Dooly County, Georgia, to its confluence with the Suwannee River in Hamilton County, Florida.
129 miles: Alapaha River Water Trail from US 82 to the Suwannee River, plus many lakes, ponds, and swamps to the side.
A dozen public access points, and another boat ramp being built. See the ARWT Access web page.
Class 1 Rapids with mostly flatwater, on an undammed blackwater river with no industrial development and no large point sources of pollution.
Alapaha River water levels fluctuate, and the river may be canoeable or floatable only a few weeks or months per year. All the record high levels have been in January through April, but the Alapaha River can be high in almost any other month. Paddle times may vary widely depending on ability of the paddler and the level of the water; going may be especially slow at low water levels, due to deadfalls in the river.
For example in the middle parts of the river, when the Statenville gauge shows more than 6 feet, it is too high to paddle; less than 2 feet is too low.
WWALS includes high and low water indicators in the printed materials for different sections of the river, and online along with the current water levels online, using the gauges at Jennings, FL, at Statenville, GA, at US 82 near Alapaha, and at GA 125/32 near Irwinville.
Meanwhile, there are deep areas (lakes) on the river that are boatable most of the year, and lakes in the Alapaha River watershed that are boatable year-round.
WWALS provides a float plan form for boaters to fill out and file, so friends and, if unfortunately necessary, emergency responders can find them.
Yes. No reservation, permit or fee required in Georgia for rough camping on islands.
Camping on SRWMD lands in Florida is free with a permit, obtainable by calling SRWMD at 386.362.1001.
Map and Spreadsheet
Follow this link for an interactive ARWT map, along with indexes by access points, categories, and all points, plus a link to the spreadsheet from which all these are made.
Printed and going to outfitters, motels, businesses, Chambers, near you: Map, Brochure, and Card all in one. Two editions of 10,000 copies each are all gone. Using a generous grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, we have printed a third edition of these brochures.
WWALS Watershed Coalition through a $500 grant from Georgia River Network, requesting sponsorship from Tift, Atkinson, Berrien, Lanier, Lowndes, and Echols Counties, Georgia, and Hamilton County, Florida, cities near the river, businesses, and other organizations.
- 2013-11-05: Lowndes County, GA, voters approved the Naylor Boat Ramp and its park in the Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) referendum.
- 2014-10-26: $250 and resolution of support from Hamilton County, Florida Tourist Development Council
- 2014-11-05: Letter of support from Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce
- 2014-11-05: $500 check from Valdosta-Lowndes County Tourism Authority
- 2014-11-18: Resolution of support from the Hamilton County, Florida Board of Commissioners
- 2015-01-21: Letter of support from the Valdosta-Lowndes Development Authority
- 2016-09-14: Letter from Berrien County authorizing WWALS to put signs on county land at three landings in Berrien County.
- 2018-01-08: Resolution of support from the Lanier County, Georgia Board of Commissioners
- 2018-01-18: Resolution of support from the Atkinson County, Georgia Board of Commissioners
- 2018-03-06: Berrien County Commission vote to rename two landings to become Sheboggy Boat Ramp and Berrien Beach Boat Ramp.
- 2018-04-05: Resolution of support from Valdosta Mayor and City Council.
- 2018-04-07: “Alapaha River Beauty should Not be Hidden,” unsolicited video testimonial by Lanier County Emergency Management.
- 2020-06-13: Lowndes County has built Naylor Boat Ramp at US 84, and handed over the surrounding park to Valdosta-Lowndes Parks and Recreation Authority (VLPRA), including the popular beach between the ramp and the US 84 bridge. We planted road signs for Naylor Boat Ramp years ago using funds from WWALS memberships: you can still help pay for those. We put at-water signs there in June 2020, using the GA-DNR grant (see below).
- 2020: A generous grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA-DNR) enabled WWALS to design, print, and plant at-water signs for the ARWT, and to publish 10,000 z-fold brochures which we are distributing for free through welcome centers and rest stops on I-75 and I-95 in Georgia and Florida, as well as through county and city governments, parks, outings, and festivals. Your donations to WWALS help defray the cash match for that grant.
- 2021-06-30: The Mayor of Valdosta wrote a letter supporting redesignation of the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers from Fishing to Recreational.
- 2021-08-11: The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) did redesignate parts of the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers.
2021-08-31: The Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority (VLPRA) updated Master Plan includes as goals:
- 6.1 Continue to work with the county and WWALS to construct a network of launches, ramps, camp sites, and river camps, similar to the amenities along the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail (SRWT) in north Florida (where possible).
- 6.2 Incorporate WWALS recommendations for improvements (for water quality, health and safety, and river access) into to a phased, 12-year River Access Improvement Plan, consistent with the SPLOST funding cycles.
John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper, WWALS Watershed Coalition, email@example.com
Valdosta 55,000 population and Lake Park 734 (Lowndes County 113,000), Tifton 16,000 (Tift County 40,000), Alapaha 658 and Nashville 4,903 (Berrien County 19,000), Willacoochee 1,391 (Atkinson County 8,290), Lakeland 3,398 (Lanier County 10,408), Statenville (Echols County 4,000), and Jennings 833 and Jasper 4,221 (Hamilton County, Florida 14,000).
See also WWALS Cities and Counties.
The winners: Honorable Mention Codi Sadler, Second Place Taarna Jones, First Place Maya Turner. Third Place Glenda Velasquez not pictured, plus ARWT Chair Chris Graham and logo contest coordinator Deanna Mericle
- 2015-03-23: Suwannee Democrat, 2 Hamilton County businesses donate prizes for logo contest
- 2015-03-20: Jasper News, Two Hamilton County businesses donate prizes for logo contest
- 2015-03-18: Valdosta CEO, South Georgia Talent Won the Alapaha River Water Trail Logo Contest
- 2015-03-13: Tifton Gazette: Prizes to High School Logo Contest Winners Saturday at Alapaha River Water Trail Conference
- 2015-03-11: Valdosta CEO: Prizes to High School Logo Contest Winners at Alapaha River Water Trail Conference
- 2014-10-27: WWALS Ambassador Dave Hetzel explains the Alapaha River Water Trail on YouTube.
- 2014-08-19: WWALS President John S. Quarterman discusses the Alapaha Water Trail as a quality-of-life economic development asset at the Valdosta-Lowndes County Economic Development Authority.
- 2014-07-27: WWALS receives Alapaha Water Trali grant, Tifton Gazette
- 2014-07-21: WWALS gets grant from river network, Valdosta Daily Times
See also News.
- See draft Map.
- See access points and spreadsheet.
- See affected organizations.
- See timeline for further events, both past and future.
- 2014-08-05: facebook group established.
- 2014-08-05: First in-person committee meeting, at El Cazador Mexican Restaurant in Valdosta. Attendees: Chris Graham (chair), John S. Quarterman, Dave Hetzel, April Huntley, Brett Huntley, Chris Mericle, Deanna Mericle, Gretchen Quarterman, and Bret Wagenhorst (by phone).
- 2014-07-21: Press Release
- 2014-07-10: est. email list firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 2014-07-09: WWALS Alapaha Water Trail Committee established by WWALS Board at its regular meeting.
- 2014-06-25: Blueway Trails in South Georgia? by Christopher Lee Graham, Lanier County Advocate
- 2013-02-04: Water trails for economic benefit —Bret Wagenhorst
- See also Alapaha River
- Gwyneth Moody, Community Programs Coordinator and Water Trail contact for Georgia River Network.
- 2015-05-15: Final Grant Report to GRN
- 2015-01-15: Mid-Year Progress Report
- 2014-06-19: WWALS-GRN Contract for Alapaha Water Trail Seed Grant
- 2014-06-19: WWALS Seed Grant Acceptance Cover Letter from GRN
- 2014-05-23: WWALS Water Trails Seed Grant Application to GRN
- 2014-04: GRN/Turner Foundation Mini Grant Program 2014