Paddle Georgia, the country's largest week-long canoe and kayak camping adventure, will launch at Dawson County's River Park on the Etowah River this weekend for a 125 mile, seven day trip from the north Georgia mountains to Rome.
The annual event is organized by the Georgia River Network and will serve as a fundraiser for local watershed groups working to protect the river.
This year's event will take place June 17 - 23 and begin at 7:30 a.m. June 17 at the Hwy. 9 canoe launch.
The 380 registered paddlers hail from 17 states and range in age from 2 to 75.
"This will be the 13th Paddle Georgia event since 2005, and we've found that north Georgia rivers that flow through metro Atlanta are among our most popular trips," said Joe Cook, Paddle Georgia coordinator. "Aside from that, the Etowah is arguably the best family paddling river in the state. It's a beautiful river, rich in history and though there are small shoals and rapids, it's a great river for novice paddlers."
This is the second time the group has chosen the Etowah, the first time was in 2006. It is one of the most biologically diverse rivers of its size in the country and is home to three federally protected fish species.
The route will take the paddlers through Dawson, Forsyth and Cherokee counties before passing Lake Allatoona. The last three days will include Bartow and Floyd counties and a stop at the Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site.
There is also a street party planned in downtown Cartersville and a River's End Celebration in Rome.
The event is an environmental education adventure for the whole family that will help connect people with Georgia's rivers.
Participants will paddle 17 miles a day and learn about the river through nightly programs about the river's ecology and cultural history.
Registration for the event is now closed.
To learn more about the event, go online to the Paddle Georgia web site at www.garivers.org/paddle_georgia or contact Joe Cook at (706) 409-0128 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.