What is a Water Trail?

  • Water equivalent of a hiking trail.
  • Blueways, canoe trails, and paddle trails are all water trails.
  • It has access points along the river, like trailheads, for putting boats on and off the water.
  • Suitable for day-trips in canoes and kayaks.
  • Water trails can be various lengths and are used by paddlers, anglers, hikers and picnickers of all ages and ability.

Tourism and Economic Growth

  • The outdoor recreation industry provides 6.1 million American jobs, $646 billion in spending each year, $39.9 billion in federal tax revenue, and $39.7 billion in state/local tax revenue.
  • In Georgia, approximately 1 million paddlers participate in the sport.
  • More than $23 billion is spent in the state on outdoor recreation.
  • Communities throughout Georgia are realizing the economic benefits of highlighting their waterways.
  • In 2002, the estimated impact of visitors to the Chattooga River was $2.6 million, with 60 jobs being supported by river recreation.


  • Paddling is an easy outdoor activity for many types of people.
  • The recent America's Great Outdoors Initiative in 2010 found that Americans want access to their rivers, lakes and streams.
  • Communities benefit from increased recreation and tourism in their town.


  • Paddlers see the conditions of the river and become advocates for clean water.
  • The river teaches paddlers about wildlife habitat
  • Protections that can help keep the river clean can include improved zoning and buffer requirements, improved storm water practices, prevention of new water quality threats, and enforcement of water quality laws.

South River Water Trail

  • SRWT will extend 46 miles along the South River.
  • SRWT has four potential access/take out points: 1) Panola Shoals to Klondike Road (DeKalb County); 2) Lorraine Park to Oglesby Road (Rockdale County); 3) Butler Bridge Road (Henry County) to Hwy 81 (Newton County); 4) Hwy 212 (Newton County) to Jackson Lake (Butts County).
  • The South River is part of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area; there are 49 federally designated heritage areas in the entire United States, only two are in Georgia.
  • SRWT partners include: SRWA, Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance, Jackson Lake Homeowners Association, Panola Mountain State Park and DeKalb, Rockdale, Henry, and Newton Counties.
  • An intimate river with a Piedmont flavor, the South River stretches from just north of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to Jackson Lake. The river is a major wildlife corridor and has a rich history including Native American Indian settlements.

Examples in Georgia

Take Home Points

  • Water trails have many benefits for relatively little investment.
  • Water trails can help diversify local economies.
  • Many Georgia communities are already taking advantage of the benefits water trails.

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PO Box 1341 | Decatur, Georgia 30031
404.285.3756 (p) | 678.974.7927 (f) | southriverwatershedalliance@gmail.com