The Place to Share
Our Route Summary
What We Saw
The Augusta Canal is a National Heritage Area full of scenic history The canal; was begun in 1845 to make it easier for barges of cotton and produce from western counties into Augusta. 5 years later, about 25,000 bales of cotton were brought to Savannah annually.
Today the canal is being restored as historical recreation and includes bike trails, hiking, as well as memorable paddling that is much more predictable than the variable whitewater of sections of the Savannah River that parallels the canal.
Before you leave the Savannah Rapids Pavilion park, take the time to walk out onto the dam for a spectacular view of both the Savannah River and the Augusta canal. The launch point above is just downstream of the head gates and lock that control the water into the canal.
|Primarily for safety reasons, no swimming is
permitted in the canal. You'll find the water is very
cold as it's drawn from the cold bottom water of the dam
reservoir. The breeze blowing across the water feels like
welcome air conditioning to paddlers on a hot day. We
enjoyed dipping our hands and feet for a minute or two,
but that was enough.
Shortly after the put in, you'll see a small waterfall on the right facing downstream, a nice place for a photo. Beware of the underwater fixtures near the waterfall.
A little further, after the I-20 bridge, you'll see the entrance to Warren lake on the right as shown in the photo at right at
GPS: N 33 deg 31.318' W 082 deg 00.697'
|Shortly after Lake Warren, you'll see a floating dock
on the left bank at
GPS: N 33 deg 31.292' W 082 deg 00.615'
If you get out here, you can walk over the bank and bike path to the Savannah River on the other side. If the water is low, you'll get a good view of the Savannah River rapids in the area. This path is a portage between the river and the canal.
You may be surprised by the considerable difference in water levels between the canal and the river, but then you'll appreciate why the canal was built to aid navigation.
|The banks of the canal will begin to change from the
tall trees to grass as you approach the River Watch
Parkway bridge shown at right at
GPS: N 33 deg 30.441' W 082 deg 00.031'
The left bank is an optional takeout point onto the dirt bike path road (Goodrich Street) accessed from the mill.
|After the River Watch Parkway bridge, you'll see
another lake access on the right (shown at left) for Lake
GPS: N 33 deg 29.891' W 081 deg 59.877'
:Lake Olmstead is fed by Rae's Creek and is another optional takeout at the ramps at the park. The lake is named after it's designer Charles Olmstead who was also an engineer on the Erie Canal.
|Now you'll begin to see more manmade historical
relics of the canal. The Bulkhead Gates shown at right at
GPS: N 33 deg 29.734' W 081 deg 59.809'
These gates were used for flood control in 1914 along with the levee system seen on the banks in this area and in downtown Augusta's RiverWalk.
There is a sign for paddlers to proceed through the open left hand gate that has a fun rush of current through it.
|More history approaches as the current in the canal
First, paddlers can't miss the 168 foot Powder Works Chimney shown at the top, all that is left of the Confederate gunpowder and munitions plant built there from 1862-1865.
The Sibley Mill behind the chimney was a cotton mill built in 1881. The mill continues to manufacture cotton denim partially powered by canal water flow.
The Granite flour mill shown at left built in 1848 is the only mill built on the original 1845 canal that is still intact. It signals that your canal paddle is nearing an end.
|Shortly after the mill, you'll pass a foot bridge
with the center span missing. We saw these bright flowers
on the banks near by.
The takeout shown above is shortly after the footbridge. We paddled about 100 feet from the end and took out on the left bank onto mowed grass banks.
The Augusta Canal was a memorable paddle combining quiet tree's and Augusta's history.