Follow the trail
Area paddlers who pretty much have had the upper reaches of the Tugaloo River all to themselves may experience a change in that status next year.
That’s because a section of the river may become a part of the Georgia Water Trails Program as early as late winter 2019.
Georgia River Network (GRN) launched the Georgia Water Trails Program in 2010, in response to the need for a comprehensive source of information regarding the creation of water trails, to support representatives and communities in developing their water trails, and to provide information to recreational users about Georgia’s Water Trails.
The Stephens County Foundation, developers of the Tugaloo Bend Site on the upper reaches the Tugaloo, is seeking the water trail designation.
The Foundation has received the support of both county and city commissioners after both bodies heard recent presentations by the Foundation’s Tim Hale.
Hale told both sets of commissioners joining the water trail network will bring more visitors to Toccoa-Stephens County and the Tugaloo Bend site.
“It’s really free advertising,” he told county commissioners. “The trail designation would add the Tugaloo River to other similar destination spots in Georgia.”
The Tugaloo Water Trail would extend from “below the tail race at Yonah Dam to Stephens County Park and Broken Bridges,” Hale said.
Put-in would be at the Walker Creek boat ramp and take-out at the Stephens County Park near the Highway 123 bridge to South Carolina.
To unify the planning and management of the water trails throughout the state, technical staff from Georgia River Network (GRN) used best management practices from national organizations and other state and federal agencies to develop criteria that promote safe, legal and sustainable water trails.
Encompassed within the Georgia Water Trail Program are a variety of resources and projects supported and maintained by GRN.
The program helps form water trail stakeholder partnerships that encompass all sectors of a community (landowners, local and state agencies, county and city officials, river enthusiasts, educators, watershed groups, local businesses, attorneys, outfitters, etc.,) and introduces people to recreational, tourism and economic opportunities within communities and throughout the state.
Water trails are an effective way to introduce people to river issues and to engage them in the protection of their local waterways.
GRN considers a water trail to be established once the following criteria are fulfilled:
- Water trail is sponsored, maintained and promoted by a local entity or partnership;
- Publicly accessible areas that paddlers can legally access and safely unload boats and park vehicles;
- River access sites are appropriately spaced apart on the river so that they may be reasonably paddled in a few hours or a full day;
- Depending on the length of the trail, water access to public overnight camping sites;
- Information about the water trail provided to paddlers through a website and illustrative maps created by the sponsoring entity;
- Signage/ kiosks placed at all water trail access points that include: river etiquette information, paddling safety information and a map of the water trail.