Head south for some terrific paddling opportunities this time of year. In Louisiana and in South Carolina, separate groups are helping paddlers explore their native water routes in February, March, and April.

In Lousiana, Atchafalaya Paddle Trails, a trail-building nonprofit, is leading many trips in the Atchafalaya Basin in February, March, and April to survey potential paddle trails and campsites. While most are day trips, there are two overnight trips and one two-night trip. Kayaks are available to rent, and arrangements can be made to rent canoes, tents or other camping gear or for shuttles to nearby accomodations. There is no charge to come along on the trips. Donations are gladly accepted. Find trip information, updates or contact them at bayoutrails.org or call (337) 739-2410.

In South Carolina, the Spirit of the River festival at Givhans Ferry State Park runs for three days, March 19-21, with seven different canoe and kayak trips on pristine waterways, including the Edisto and Ashepoo Rivers and Four-Hole Swamp. There will also be skill-development workshops, equipment displays, entertainment and a low-country cookout. (888) 887-2757; www.edistofriends.org/spirit.htm.