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More than Golf!

When I was a little kid I hated being cooped inside the house. I always wanted to be outside playing, and the same applies today. Luckily I live in Augusta, Ga. where outdoor recreation is just around the river bend…literally!

In the south, we are fortunate enough to have warmer temperatures during most of the year, which means we get to spend a lot of time outside! Here are some of the outdoor recreational opportunities Augusta offers. Be prepared to be surprised, and many places are free!



The Augusta Canal and Towpath

Built in 1845 to harness the water of the Savannah River and produce hydroelectricity to power mills, the Augusta Canal is still in use today. Its smooth waters make it an excellent place for a canoe or kayak adventure. Don’t have a kayak or canoe? There are retailers close by! And its 8.5 miles long towpath is ideal for walking or riding bikes. Pets are welcome.

J. Strom Thurmond LakeIt’s the largest man-made lake east of the Mississippi River. There are several parks and swimming beaches, hiking trails and camping areas. You can also rent boats and jet skis for the day. It is also home to the International Disc Golf Hall of Fame.

Lake Olmstead/Julian Smith ParkIt’s a lake front park which makes it perfect for boating, fishing and picnics. The Augusta GreenJackets, Augusta’s minor league baseball team play at Lake Olmstead Stadium during the season (April through September). Try your hand at one of several disc golf courses. One is located in the park. Disc golf is similar to ball golf, but you use discs/Frisbees and try to throw them into a basket to make par. Pretty simple concept. Fun and free if you own discs!

Phinizy Swamp Nature ParkLocated on 1100 acres and just minutes from downtown Augusta, Phinizy Swamp Nature Park offers visitors the chance to see blue heron, red-shouldered hawk, otter, alligator and the elusive bobcat in their natural settings. Participate in guided tours or venture out on your own. This park is also free.

Savannah River and Augusta Riverwalk

Personal  watercraft vehicles are available to rent. Also a great place for canoeing, kayaking and fishing. The Augusta Riverwalk runs parallel to the Savannah River. Its two-tiered paved trail runs for three blocks downtown. It features a children’s playground, picnic tables and various gardens.

Saturday Adventure at Clarks Hill

On Saturday afternoon, Granddaddy called and asked if the boys wanted to go fishing. Of course! From downtown Augusta, it is about a 30-minute ride to the Strom Thurmond Dam boat ramp. Dad loaded up the boys and off they went.

The trip was more about the adventure than anything else. The boat ramp was full after a fishing tournament that morning. There was so much to see! They rode the lake for a while before finding a quiet corner to do some fishing. No one volunteered to touch the fish, but in the end it was a great trip.

Clarks Hill Lake is also called Lake Thurmond. I think it just depends what side of the lake you are from. The Georgia side folks say Clark’s Hill and the South Carolina side says Lake Thurmond.

Thurmond Lake comprises nearly 71,100 acres of water with a shoreline of 1200 miles. The lake is one of the southeast’s largest and most popular public recreation lakes. Built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1946 and 1954 for flood control and for hydropower. Each year, millions of people utilize the many public parks, marinas, and campgrounds.

For more info on the lake and all its recreation:

http://www.sas.usace.army.mil/lakes/thurmond/

Or stop by their welcome center:
J. Strom Thurmond Dam and Lake
510 Clarks Hill Highway
Clarks Hill, SC 29821
1-800-533-3478

Kayaking in Augusta

Several friends and I kayaked down a creek just a mile or two downstream of downtown Augusta on the Savannah River.  What a gorgeous time of year to be out enjoying nature.  The colors were vibrant and nature still full of life.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves!

Around each twist and turn of the creek, we came across new discoveries. 

We hoped we didn’t disturb this fisherman where the creek met the Savannah River.

It was a good workout paddling back upstream to the boat house, but the good company and warm weather helped it fly by.

If you’d like to rent a canoe or kayak and go on your own adventures, you’ve got options!

American Wilderness Outdoors Limited (AWOL) and the 5th Street Marina both rent kayaks and canoes and will even provide drop off / pick up at locations of your choice.  Both businesses have knowledgeable staff who can recommend the best routes for your interests and skill level.  The Savannah River, Strom Thurmond Lake and Bettys Branch are all popular choices. AWOL will also provide guides for groups or you can join their Thursday Night Twilight Paddles in the warmer months. Be safe and have fun exploring Augusta by water!

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