With the COVID-19 pandemic still impacting the way Georgians work and play and the demand for close-to-home outdoor adventures soaring, a Georgia river advocacy organization will offer more than a dozen guided canoe/kayak/paddleboard adventures in 2021.
The trips will be limited in size and social-distancing protocols will be strictly observed, according to organizers at the Athens-based Georgia River Network (GRN).
“The shift to smaller group trips is necessary to keep everyone safe and limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” said Rena Peck, GRN executive director. “Outdoor recreation, canoeing and kayaking especially, is a safe activity in the midst of this pandemic. We’re staying outside and keeping our distance from one another while still being able to socialize and enjoy each other’s company.”
Since the pandemic hit last year, outdoor recreation has seen a boom in participation. Sales of canoes, kayaks and paddleboards have skyrocketed with retailers and manufacturers struggling to meet the demand.
Georgia River Network has for the past 15 years organized week-long canoe/kayak camping adventures. Paddle Georgia takes place on a different Georgia river each summer, and participants paddle, camp and eat together for the week. Last year’s trip was canceled due to the pandemic.
“Pedal-paddle” trips avoid putting participants together in buses, vans or vehicles to run shuttles, GRN has offered trips in which participants cycle from the river take out site to the launch site to begin their journey. Instead of shuttling people, the group shuttles bicycles.
In 2021, GRN plans pedal-paddle trips on the Tallapoosa, Chattahoochee, Oostanaula, Oconee and Tugaloo rivers, as well as Chickamauga Creek.
The group also has a slate of weekend canoe/kayak camping adventures planned. The trips include on-river camping, two days of paddling, catered meals, educational programs and other amenities.
GRN also plans to host a special edition of its annual week-long Paddle Georgia event. The trip will take place on the Flint River in Southwest Georgia June 20-26 and will be limited to about 20 participants. The organization expects to release details about this adventure in early 2021.
The trips, many of which will take place on designated water trails, are designed to be educational adventures with cultural and natural history programs included.
“Georgia River Network hosts these trips to connect people with our rivers and create river advocates,” said Peck. “There’s no better way to fall in love with a river than to venture on its water.”
The journeys begin in January and continue through November. A complete listing of trips can be viewed at https://garivers.org/events
GRN’s 2021 paddle trip schedule includes:
May 15, Chickamauga Creek: A pedal-paddle adventure on a Tennessee River tributary in Northwest Georgia.
Aug. 21, Oostanaula River: A pedal-paddle adventure on this Coosa River tributary in Northwest Georgia known for its robust population of freshwater mussels