As a co-owner of Southeast Adventure Outfitters on St. Simons and Brunswick, Michael Gowen has been organizing kayak trips in Coastal Georgia since 1994. It hasn’t always been easy.
“In the past, it’s always been trying to find information about river put ins and trips and distances in Georgia, based on the very few books that were there,” he said. “And then it became trying to find information on the internet, where you could find it.”
He and other kayakers and canoeists are welcoming the Georgia River Guide app from Georgia River Network. Released in March, it’s been downloaded more than 6,000 times.
“Now, with an app, it is all consolidated into one place,” Gowen said. “And that’s probably the greatest benefit of having kind of a one-stop shop for river information.”
The app is for anyone who wants to paddle, swim, fish, boat or otherwise explore Georgia’s waterways, said Georgia River Network spokeswoman Sarah Taylor.
“We definitely were trying to cater it towards really, anyone, novice or experienced and to just have all the information you’d need in one place,” she said. “But we were certainly mindful of folks dabbling with (paddling), people who occasionally want to get out of the house, and do it. We wanted to make sure the safety information was accurate for them.”
Eight years in the making, the app draws information from Joe Cook’s river guide books and Suzanne Welander’s river guide books as well as from the state’s riverkeepers, water trail groups and commercial outfitters.
“So we really try to curate information from the folks who know their river best,” said Andrea White, community programs coordinator at Georgia River Network.
Dale Williams is expert at kayaking, but he’s just getting into canoeing. He used to think of the canoe as an “antiquated craft,” he said.
“Now I’m finding it to be very graceful and just a beautiful thing to watch somebody who’s good at how and and so I’m trying to improve my canoeing skills,” said Williams, who owns and operates Sea Kayaking USA, and lives on Tybee Island. Williams is looking forward to using the app to tell him water levels, current flow, and where the put ins and take outs are.
As far as Coastal Georgia river paddling goes, Gowen likes the Altamaha, called Georgia’s Amazon because it’s “very big and wild.” And there’s also the Satilla with its beautiful white sandbars.
Paddlers who don’t find their favorite spot on the app can suggest it by sending an email to email@example.com, White said.
“Since we launched the app March 1, we’ve already added three new rivers,” she said.
About the Georgia River Guide app
From the iconic wetlands of the Okefenokee Wilderness Area Canoe Water Trail in the southeast, to the limestone-lined banks of the Flint River in the southwest, and the historic waters of the Etowah River in the northwest, the Georgia River Guide maps out the perfect section of river for your next adventure. Download the Georgia River Guide from the App Store or the Android app from Google Play.
- Public access points & river mileage
- River conditions & recommended runnable levels
- Level of difficulty
- Specific river rapids or hazards
- GPS location when in-service and access to all data when out of cellular service
- Outfitters and shuttle services
- Cultural and historic points of interest
- Available amenities
- Tips on how to plan your trip & stay safe on the water