This week’s blog is from Lily Cason, the new graduate assistant at the Water Conservation Office.
The majority of Athens Clarke County gets its water from three sources: the North Oconee River, the Middle Oconee River, and the Bear Creek Reservoir. That water is processed at the J.G. Beacham Water Treatment plant and then sent out to be used for drinking, watering lawns, processing in industries, supplying fire hydrants, you name it. In honor of Lake Appreciation Month we are encouraging you to get out and enjoy some recreation on the lakes and rivers of Athens Clarke County (keeping in mind that some of those places are where we get our drinking water). Need some help figuring out where to start? Here are some ways to enjoy water recreation around Athens:
- Go fishing. Fishing is allowed at Memorial Park (most commonly caught fish are bream and catfish), off the Greenway, or at Lake Chapman (large-mouth bass, channel catfish, bullhead catfish, crappie, and bream). A Georgia DNR fishing license is required and fishing regulations must be observed. Fishing at Memorial Park or the Greenway is free. Fishing is free at Lake Chapman as well but you do have to pay the $2 park entrance fee to get into Sandy Creek Park. www.sandycreekpark.com
- Take your dog for a walk around Lake Herrick behind the UGA Intramural Fields. The Oconee Forrest Park has over 1.5 miles of trails going through the oak-hickory forest and around Lake Herrick. There is also an ADA Accessible Boardwalk for enjoying the scenery of the lake. There is no entrance fee for the Oconee Forrest Park. http://warnell.forestry.uga.edu/ofp/
- Swim at Lake Chapman in Sandy Creek Park. The beach is open during park hours which are currently Tuesday-Sunday from 7am to sunset. The park is closed on Mondays. Entrance fee for the park is $2 per person for ages 4-64 and free for everyone else. There is no lifeguard at the beach so adults should supervise children at all times. Sandy Creek Park also has picnic areas and grills for you to use once you’re done swimming. www.sandycreekpark.com
- Take a bike ride along the North Oconee River on the Greenway. The Greenway has 3.75 miles of paved trails that so you can easily enjoy the sights and sounds of the river. The path goes from Sandy Creek Nature Center to the edge of the UGA campus with several designated parking areas along the way. From the path you can learn about Athens’ historical river mills, Civil War earthworks, and old railroad lines. The path also welcomes walkers, runners, and their four-legged friends (as long as they are on leash). There is no charge to use the North Oconee River Greenway. Check out the Greenway’s website for a map and more information: http://athensclarkecounty.com/Facilities/Facility/Details/23
- Look for wildlife while hiking beside the Middle Oconee River at the State Botanical Gardens. The White Trail (3.22 miles total) and the Orange trail (1.17 miles total) meander along the river bank for a few miles. These trails are great for viewing native plants, birds, and sometimes even an otter. There is no charge to enjoy the hiking trails at the State Botanical Gardens but you can leave a donation at the visitor’s center if you feel so inclined. Take note that dogs are not allowed. See their website for more information: http://botgarden.uga.edu/visit/State-Botanical-Garden-of-Georgia-Map.pdf
- Enjoy a float down the river—one of my personal favorite ways to cool off in the summer. Big Dogs on the River provides kayak rentals and a ride upstream so that you can enjoy the sights and the sounds of the Middle Oconee River. Kayaking down the river provides a perspective on Athens that is rare to experience otherwise. Kayak rental is generally $20 per person. Student discounts may be available. I recommend that you call before you go 706-353–6002 http://www.bigdogsontheriver.com/
Still need more options? Check out Ben Burton Park on the Middle Oconee River, Dudley Park on the North Oconee River, or the trails at Sandy Creek Nature Center. You can also volunteer with local organizations such as River’s Alive (www.riversalive.com), UOWN (www.uown.org), or the Georgia River Network (www.garivers.org) to promote the health of our local rivers. Enjoy yourself outside this summer!