FOLKSTON — Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to join the Georgia River Network and Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge on Oct. 27 at 2 p.m. to celebrate the launch of the latest edition of Canoeing and Kayaking Georgia with author Suzanne Welander.
Interested individuals can register today by visiting the Georgia River Network website at garivers.org. Registration for the trip costs $50 and it is possible to purchase the Canoeing and Kayaking Georgia guidebook included in the registration for the trip. All proceeds from the event support the Georgia River Network Mobile App Project and the Friends of Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.
Participants will join the author on a gentle six-mile paddle on the Okefenokee Wilderness Canoe Trail, followed by a book signing at the Refuge’s Richard S. Bolt Visitor Center. The trip departs at 2 p.m. from the main entrance to the Okefenokee National Nature Preserve near Folkston. Participants will learn about the rich history of the swamp while walking along lily pad-lined trails to visit the open marsh meadows – some of the Okefenokee Swamp’s most iconic habitats.
“With over 120 miles of water trails for canoeing and kayaking, Okefenokee NWR is the perfect place to launch Ms. Welander’s new guide for all of Georgia,” said Michael Lusk, director of Okefenokee NWR, in a press release. “The Refuge is honored to host the author and the Georgia River Network and appreciates their concern for Okefenokee Swamp, one of Georgia’s Seven Natural Wonders.”
This event coincides with the nearly 50-year anniversary of federal designations protecting Southeast Georgia’s iconic wildlife treasures: the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and the Cumberland Island National Seashore.
“This Okefenokee Wilderness Canoe Trail trip launches a collective marsh-to-sea initiative to raise awareness of the Okefenokee Marsh and increase investment in regional ecotourism,” said Rena Ann Peck, executive director of Georgia River Network. “In addition to the famous Suwannee River, the Okefenokee Swamp empties into the St. Marys River, which connects to the Atlantic Ocean and Cumberland Island.
“We are grateful to former Representative WS (Bill) Stuckey for helping to pass legislation to permanently protect the Okefenokee Wilderness and Cumberland Wilderness – from the marshes to the sea.”
Participants are encouraged to bring their own boat or can book a boat rental through Okefenokee Adventures at okeswamp.org/rentals/ or (912) 496-7156. All participants must sign a liability waiver.
Registration for the event does not include the cost of the entrance fee to the Refuge ($5) or the cost of a rental boat (if applicable).
The Canoeing & Kayaking Georgia guide provides paddlers of all stripes with the descriptions, data, and resources needed to plan self-guided river trips throughout the state of Georgia. The 2022 edition builds on over 40 years of book experience, now covering nearly 4,000 miles of waterways, from mountain whitewater to peaceful calm waters and coastal forays.
“Suzanne’s Guide is Georgia’s Bible for kayaking and canoeing, and the basis for Georgia River Network’s new Georgia River Guide mobile app,” Peck said.
The Georgia River Guide app is a digital river trip planning tool that can be downloaded for free at https://garivers.org/georgiariverguide/.
WHAT TO BRING: The trip will be mostly through unshaded marsh grasslands where the afternoon sun can be intense. Even though October is the driest month in Georgia, rain is still possible. The trip will take place in the rain, unless the conditions are dangerous or excessively windy.
Obligation to bring: PFD (life jacket), paddles, boat (or rental), plenty of drinking water, sunscreen, insect repellent, hat, clothing suitable for the weather, water shoes (no flip flops), snacks if you need it, rain gear.
Recommended items (optional): change of clothes in a waterproof bag, camera, extra rope, first aid kit.