• Know the abilities of your group and don’t exceed these.
  • The river levels can change significantly based on rainfall amounts. Make sure you know if there are potential flood conditions on the river before you start your trip.
  • Drought conditions can also affect your ability to safely paddle. Low levels expose sunken snags and other submerged objects. Sand bars can also become problems. Evaluate the water levels and speed of the river before your trip.
  • Carry a deck compass, or GPS and map of the trail. Know where you are, where your access points are and how to get out in an emergency.
  • If you are camping, make sure you know the approved camping locations. Know if the camp sites are primitive or developed and pack the appropriate equipment.
  • Check the forecast but always be prepared for quick changes in the weather.
  • Notify friends or family of your paddle itinerary. Make sure they know who to contact if you don’t return on time. Write down where you intend to put in, take out and when you expect to return.
  • For emergencies, call 911, but assume the cell coverage will be inadequate.
  • If you are planning for an extended trip, consider a satellite phone, a VHF Marine radio, or a SPOT Personal satellite tracking system (can give outgoing message where cell phones do not work). Make sure everyone in your party knows how to operate the emergency equipment. Consider what power source to use for this equipment.
  • Carry a marine whistle, bell or horn within easy reach for low visibility conditions.
  • Carry flashlights and visual signal device or light sticks, or flare gun and flares.
  • Carry Waterproof GPS and extra batteries
  • Wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (pfd) and keep it snug.
  • Assess your boat’s flotation needs. For flotation to work effectively it must fit snugly into the craft and be securely tied into place.
  • A lightweight paddle and spare paddle.
  • Dry bags & chart case for paddle guide & maps, cell phone, cameras, laptops, GPS, other important items.
  • First aid kit and personal medications.
  • Food and water—1 gal/person/day. Carry more than you think you need.
  • Gear specifically for overnight trips.
  • If using a kayak, take a sprayskirt/cockpit cover for rough and windy conditions. • Waterproof matches.
Safety Gear
  • Be prepared for bad weather.
  • Carry throw bags and other rescue gear. Make sure you can use them.
  • Carry a boat knife–when there are ropes and rigging, a knife is needed; this includes throw bags and throw ropes.
  • Pack a bilge pump and/or bailer so that you can reach it while paddling. Always carry some device that can get water OUT of the boat.
  • Self-rescue devices such as paddle float, slings, and tow ropes
  • Duct tape/small repair kit
  • Know how to re-enter your boat if you flip.
  • Be able to secure all gear to the boat (kayaks better to use the storage compartments) so nothing is lost if you flip.

  • Always carry clothing to protect from wind and rain that can quickly compromise your safety and cause hypothermia, even in warm weather. Dress in layers. Temperature changes can occur rapidly even in summer
  • Know the warning signs of hypothermia—even in warm weather.
  • Carry insect repellent, sunscreen, hats, sunglasses (with UV eye protection) and a strap.
  • Proper footwear—especially important if you will be near any oyster beds or climbing on any structures with barnacles. Assume that you will need protection.
Quick Facts about the River
  • The South River watershed is located in the Upper Ocmulgee River Basin. It is composed of 155,239 acres and includes portions of DeKalb, Fulton, Rockdale, Clayton, and Henry counties.
  • The current trend in the South River corridor is the development of single-family housing. In 1997, 37 permits for subdivision development created 1,920 lots, a 79% increase in this activity from the previous years.
  • Water from Jackson Lake flows into the Ocmulgee River, which helps form the Altamaha River, reaching the Atlantic Ocean between Darien and Brunswick, Georgia.
  • The lower Ocmulgee and the entire main stem of the Altamaha flow un-impounded for over 300 miles with a gradient of only about one foot per mile.
  • There are approximately 13 facilities, including industries and municipalities, authorized to discharge wastewater into the Ocmulgee River Basin pursuant to NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) Permits.
Health of the River

In the Ocmulgee River Basin, there are about 48 rivers and streams listed on the 2002 303(d) list as waters not meeting their designated use of fishing. (Two of those 48 also do not meet their designated use of drinking water.) These impaired waters include roughly 415 miles of rivers and streams in the Ocmulgee River Basin. Additionally, the following lakes/reservoirs are included on the 303(d) list as not fully supporting designated uses:

– Big Haynes Reservoir (Black Shoals Lake) – 650 acres – drinking water
– High Falls Lake – 699 acres – recreation
– Lake Jackson – 4,752 acres – recreation
– Little Ocmulgee State Park Lake – 224 acres – fishing

Tourist Sites / Significant Parks Pertaining to River

Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, GA