Alabama Power has granted access to property for primitive campsites and bypasses around company dams, paving the way for the Tallapoosa River to be added to the Alabama Scenic River Trail (ASRT).
The 650-mile trail for canoes, kayaks and flat-bottom boats — one of the nation’s longest — runs from northeast Alabama to the Gulf of Mexico. The trail’s new 200-plus mile segment on the Tallapoosa will feature 13 campsites and four portages, allowing paddlers to walk their canoes or kayaks around the four Alabama Power dams on the river: Harris, Martin, Yates and Thurlow.
“It’s critical for paddlers to have campsites they can legally use, and this gives people a place to camp who otherwise would have no place to overnight while traversing the Tallapoosa,” said ASRT founder and president Fred Couch.
“The portages and the campsites open up probably the most spectacular part of the river as far as unencumbered, beautiful, stunning paddling,” added Jim Felder, ASRT executive director.
“Bald eagles, deer, turkey, otters — they’re in abundance,” said Harold Banks, a 66-year-old veteran paddler from Dadeville who has travelled the entire Tallapoosa. “It’s a wilderness experience almost any stretch you choose to travel.”
The expansion of the trail is seen as an economic development and tourism opportunity, said Shane Harris, Tallapoosa County coordinator for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
“Our goal is to create an informational brochure-map detailing these river trails and the different runs people can explore so when they do these trips, they will have more information and be safe,” Harris said.
Felder said the Tallapoosa River is a microcosm of the ingredients that make Alabama rivers unique. “The Tallapoosa River embodies some of the very best of all the aspects of the rivers of Alabama, including quality of water, quality of the experience, the beauty of the surroundings.
“The fact you can go so many miles through this very history-rich region and not see anything but eagles and fish is really spectacular,” Felder said.
Since its inception in 2008, ASRT officials have broadened the overall trail to include 3,000 miles of creeks and other water sources in Alabama. The Alabama Scenic River Trail has been designated a National Recreation Trail and one of several National Water Trails. For more information about the trail, visit AlabamaScenicRiverTrail.com.