Enjoy an amazing Georgia paddling experience during your weekend getaway in Columbia County, located just two hours from Atlanta and only minutes from the neighboring town of Augusta. With miles of scenic waterways, Columbia County is a nature-lovers paradise. And there is no better way to experience nature and all its beauty than on a weekend paddle trip on Columbia County’s Serene18. It’s the perfect setting for a fun kayaking adventure filled with activities such as fishing, spotting wildlife and exploring historic sites.
Best places to kayak in Georgia
Serene18 offers outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers the opportunity to experience 18 square miles of Georgia’s most serene water trails found at Clarks Hill Lake, the Savannah River and the Augusta Canal. While completing just one of the four routes is certainly an option, why not stake your claim as a paddle warrior by getting your Serene18 Paddle Passport and conquering all four routes. And that’s not all, you’ll also get a free t-shirt and a lifetime of bragging rights. Request your passport ahead of time at serene18.com and you’ll be ready to hit the water upon arrival. You can also pick one up at the Columbia County Visitors Center or from any of our paddle partners mentioned in this post.
Your weekend paddle trip begins on the Clarks Hill Lake water trail. The 71,000-acre Clarks Hill Lake near Augusta is one of the Southeast’s largest lakes and one of the best bass fishing spots in the nation. This 6-mile route starts at Wildwood Park in Appling, GA and takes kayakers anywhere from 4 to 6 hours to paddle their way to Clarks Hill Dam. Cast a line from your kayak or stop for a minute to rest on the sandy beaches.
Betty’s Branch is the next route, a popular 4-mile paddle trail on the Savannah River. The trail begins at Riverside Park in Evans, GA and takes 2 hours to complete the shorter route and 3.5 hours for kayakers choosing to paddle the longer loop route. It’s a fairly easy paddle and you have a great chance of spotting wildlife along the riverbanks, such as osprey and other birds, turtles and otters, native to Betty’s Branch. The park offers a convenient place to launch your kayak with a concrete ramp and plenty of parking.
Savannah Rapids Park, a 33-acre facility located in Martinez, GA, is home to the Stallings Island paddle trail. This 2.7-mile loop route takes about 2 hours to complete and is recommended for kayakers with some paddling experience. Stallings Island was once a home to scattered groups of Indians that eventually settled there and is also the site where the oldest known Native American pottery was discovered. Paddlers must remain in their kayaks, as this area is protected, but are welcome to pet and feed the many wild goats and donkeys that roam the island.
The longest of the paddling trails is found at the Augusta Canal, which can also be accessed from Savannah Rapids Park. Although the route is 7 miles long, the steady current allows kayakers to complete the trip in about 2.5 hours. Enjoy a scenic trip down the Augusta Canal while discovering headgates, locks and mills that date back to the mid 1800’s. Keep your eyes peeled for a chance to spot wildlife as you paddle your way to Olmstead Lake near downtown Augusta.
Where to find kayak rentals
You’ll find plenty of places offering kayak rentals near Augusta, GA, as well as any other gear you may need to make the most out of your weekend paddle trip. Clarks Hill Marina and Keg Creek Watersports offer kayak rentals for the lake at Wildwood Park. Kayak rentals for the river are available at Outdoor Augusta in Riverside Park and Savannah Rapids Kayak Rental in Savannah Rapids Park. Cole Watkins Tours offers kayak rentals and guided tours for multiple routes on both the river and canal.
Once you have conquered one of the water trails, get your passport stamped at these same locations. After completing all four Serene18 paddle trails, present your passport at the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau office to be named an official trailblazer and get your free t-shirt!
Where to stay on your kayaking adventure
Find the perfect cabins or hotels near Augusta for your outdoor weekend getaway on the Serene18. Choose from several hotels offering great rates and all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay, all while being within minutes of your paddle adventures.
For a more unique way to stay, check out one of Columbia County’s newest accommodation options offered by The Georgia Glamping Company. Enjoy the same comforts you’ll find at a hotel in one of their spacious and luxurious safari tents, all while staying up close and personal with nature.
More fun things to do on your weekend paddle trip
In addition to all the fun you can have on the water during your kayaking adventure, Columbia County is home to an abundance of fun things to do off the water. From miles of biking and hiking trails to championship caliber disc golf courses to horse riding and other fun animal encounters, Columbia County, Georgia is a premier destination for outdoor activities and experiences you won’t find elsewhere.
Enjoy an amazing outdoor weekend getaway at one of the best places to paddle in Georgia, the Serene18. With its diverse range of waterways boasting scenic views, an abundance of wildlife and plenty of fun activities, both on and off the water, this is one Georgia paddle trip you’ll remember for years to come. Whether you are a first-time paddler or have already conquered a water trail or two, the Serene 18 should be at the top of your bucket list!
Photo Credit to Cole Watkins Tours!