Alabama Scenic River Trail The new route stretches 631 miles to the Gulf of Mexico


The Alabama Tourism Department is working with a group of volunteers on a 631-mile river trail in Alabama. The water route will stretch from the Alabama-Georgia state line to the Gulf of Mexico through a network of seven rivers, two creeks, and Mobile Bay. It is believed to be the longest river trail in a single state.


Development of the Alabama Scenic River Trail started after the state tourism department launched its Year of Outdoor Alabama campaign. “We were pleased that Alabama citizens came to the Tourism Department after our campaign to develop the trail,” said Grey Brennan, marketing director for the Alabama Tourism Department. Nature-based tourism is important to Alabama, Brennan added. “Outdoor recreation is a focal point of the vacation experience for many of Alabama’s tourists,” said Brennan.


The Alabama Scenic River Trail Association is spearheaded by avid canoeist Fred Couch of Anniston.


Plans are to unveil the trail Friday, June 6, 2008, at the Riverwalk in Montgomery.


According to the Alabama Scenic Trail Association, to canoe the 631 miles at one time takes more than 30 days and powerboats can navigate the lower half of the trail in two to four days. For outdoor enthusiasts looking for a shorter experience, the State Tourism Department will also highlight sections of the trail featuring daylong or weekend outings.


Touching 18 counties in Alabama, the scenic river trail offers interesting historical sites and beautiful scenery. The trail utilizes the Coosa, Alabama, Mobile, Tensaw, Middle, Apalachee, and Blakely rivers, Mobile Bay, and two creeks along its path. Starting on the Coosa River where it enters Alabama from Georgia, the trail travels south until it ends at historic Ft. Morgan at the Gulf of Mexico.



The route, suitable for every kind of craft from canoes and kayaks to powerboats, begins in the mountainous terrain of northeastern Alabama, flows through beautiful scenery in nine lakes, through the serenity of the second largest river delta in the United States, through Mobile Bay, terminating at historic Ft. Morgan.


Portages have been identified around five of the six Alabama Power Company dams along the route. For paddled craft, a shuttle is available at Mitchell Dam, where no portage could be developed. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has locks and portages at its three dams along the trail route.



Alabama Scenic River Trail Facts

The Alabama Scenic River Trail, a route that includes beautiful stretches of seven rivers, two creeks, and one bay, will be the longest river trail in any one state, 631 miles from the Georgia state line to the Gulf of Mexico.


History

The trail passes many points of historic interest, all of which are described in Trail Guides that will be available in the spring. These guides will include information on all aspects of the trail.


Environment

The trail passes several established birding trails, includes many of the country’s best fishing grounds, and connects to the highly-regarded Bartram Canoe Trail in the delta area.


Construction

The trail was the lifelong dream of Fred Couch, who has spearheaded the project. Two key participants in the development of the trail are the Alabama Power Company, which has identified portages around five of their six dams and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has locks and portages at their three dams. For paddled craft, a shuttle is available at Mitchell Dam, where no portage could be developed. The lower half of the trail will be particularly attractive for all types of powerboats because the three locks on the lower half of the trail mean that a powerboat can make the trip from Montgomery in two days and even a slow powerboat can make it in three or four. Campgrounds are available all along the route.


Opening Ceremony

The Grand Opening Ceremonies will be held at 11 a.m., on Friday, June 6, 2008 at the Riverwalk in Montgomery.


Participation

A flotilla will cross the starting line near Cedar Bluff, Alabama on May 19. Richard Grove, organizer of many expeditions in Georgia and Florida, will once again take the entire trail, leading paddlers down various segments of the route. Powerboats leaving the opening ceremonies on Friday afternoon should reach the end of the trail Sunday evening or, if they proceed more slowly, Monday, June 9.

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