Mission Focus of the Alabama Scenic River Trail
- Create tourism travel in Alabama for all boaters, both human and motor powered
- Strengthen communities’ tourism economies through travel on nearby waterways
- Extend recreational opportunities with promotion of the waterway cooperating with public and private entities, volunteer organizations, municipalities and counties
- Highlight the historic significance of these waterways from Indian trade to the present
- Establish and fund a non-profit association to maintain the trail and coordinate community, private and public partnerships and riverside events
The following narrative, while not suitable for navigation purposes, will give the prospective Trail traveler a taste of what lies before them:
To ensure that the trail appeals to the greatest number of potential enthusiasts, consider what Alabama has to offer a drop of water that falls into the Coosa at Cedar Bluff near the Georgia state line. Rippling out from its starting point on one of the numerous sloughs that make the ragged edge of the low lakeside so intensely interesting to fisherfolk and pleasure boaters (not to mention the thousands of residents who enjoy the river’s banks in both the most humble and grandest homes). Our traveling droplet hitches a ride on a great blue heron and rides south a ways, the steepening scenic banks on either hand a blur as our transport speeds south, and we return to the deliberate speed of the Coosa bending left and right before the city of Gadsden.
Here, life in the city’s center is less hospitable to the heron and more in tune with the ways of the two-legged inhabitants who can walk to great dining from the city’s boat ramps—there’s even an excellent kayak dock in front of the town’s beautiful riverside park—and so our drop is gathered with others beneath a flip-flop on the deck of a powerboat speeding south after a dinner on the river.
Our drop of water longs to stay and just evaporate among the hundreds of visitors to Neely Henry Lake and some of the best boating and fishing in the state. But it moves on through wide, winding Logan Martin Lake and south to Lake Jordan. Here, our drop rides a damp flip-flop to the local outfitters and picks up a twelve-foot kayak for what is possibly the most rollicking six miles of mild rapids and beautiful scenery to be experienced in the southeast (though you don’t have to be an experienced kayaker to do it). No sooner does the group set foot on the takeout in Wetumpka than our drop is squished back into the Coosa to continue downstream. Soon it pauses to bob respectfully at the sharp point of land where the Coosa and Tallapoosa join to form the headwaters of the Alabama. Here was the eastern edge of the French provinces in America where Fort Toulouse was founded in 1715 and where a century later larger-than-life characters like Andrew Jackson and Chief Red Eagle wrestled for control of Indian lands and the country’s future.
Our drop rolls with the mighty Alabama River through the Black Belt region where once was created wealth untold. Through Montgomery, then Selma, then south again beneath the steep bluffs that keep the Alabama on its course, and then through the great wheels of river that are Gees Bend and Canton bend. Here the descendents of slaves have enriched the world with the beauty of their handiwork in the form of their quilts, for which they have become well known.
Down the Alabama flows our drop, into the dreamworld of the memories of riverboats that still haunt the evenings here. Below Claiborne the low world of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta spreads into a fine world of solitude for powerboats and paddleboats alike. Fifty miles of the Trail are here to enjoy as our drop rides the slow flow near the adjacent Bartram Trail, with its floating platform campsites, offering hundreds of side trip options. Indeed, our delta is one of the most attractive areas for canoeing in the whole country.
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