At the height of the pandemic, visiting Georgia’s parks and rivers became more popular than ever.

Paddlesports – like canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding – received a surge of interest while team sports were on hiatus, gyms and fitness centers closed, and vacation options were limited by social distancing.

Georgia River Network (GRN), a statewide river advocacy organization that runs multiple group paddle trips each year, was forced to cancel its annual week-long river journey known as Paddle Georgia.

This year’s event along the Flint River from June 20-26 is sold out (you can get on the waitlist), but GRN has more trips planned later in the year. But sign up now because they sell out fast.

Summer Paddle

On July 24, the Chattahoochee Peddle-Paddle will be a 12-mile paddle and 11-mile bike ride along a stretch of the river in west Georgia. Coming up Aug. 21 is the Oostanaula River Peddle-Paddle, 11.5-mile bike ride and 13.3-mile paddle explores this river that’s known for its robust population of freshwater mussels.

Fall Paddle

Rena Ann Peck is Executive Director of Georgia River Network

In the fall, the Oconee River Peddle-Paddle on Sept. 11 will explore historic ruins and old mills on a 15-mile bike ride and 11-mile paddle, while the Fall Float on the Flint Oct. 9-10 will cover 36 miles and include two nights of camping.  

“Our Georgia Water Trails Network opens up greater access for paddlers and anglers and people who just want to recreate by our rivers,” said Rena Ann Peck, executive director of Georgia River Network.

“Especially during times of crisis, like these, connection to nature from simply being on a river, lake, coast, or swamp makes us feel better emotionally and contributes to our physical well-being.” 

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.