Paddle Georgia 2022

ossabaw Island Adventure



CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THIS TRIP. Paddle Georgia 2O22 Ossabaw Island Adventure is a three-day, two night exploration of one of Georgia’s most storied barrier islands. On Friday, Oct. 28, participants will paddle seven miles from Ft. McAllister State Park through the intercoastal waterway to Ossabaw Island and camp for two nights on the island (or stay in special indoor accommodations). By day, we will explore the island by boat and on foot and enjoy a guided motorized tour as well as evening education programs courtesy of the Ossabaw Island Foundation. On Sunday, Oct. 30, participants will retrace their paddle route back to the mainland at Ft. McAllister State Park. 

Registration Fees:  $645 Adults with lodging in Ossabaw Clubhouse (bunkhouse with restrooms, showers, commons area); $485 adults tent camping with access to restrooms, showers, commons area in Clubhouse); $515 Youth 17 & Under in Ossabaw Clubhouse; $355 Youth 17 and Under tent camping.  Registration opens April 19, 2022 at 8 a.m. 


Friday, Oct. 28: Participants will gather at Fort McAllister State Park’s boat ramp on Red Bird Creek and begin the journey to Ossabaw Island between 10-10:30 a.m. to catch the outgoing tide. We’ll paddle about seven miles and arrive at Ossabaw between 2-3 p.m., set up camp and begin our exploration of the island. A catered dinner and an education program will be provided Friday evening. 

Saturday, Oct. 29: Our main day of island exploration, we’ll discover the cultural and natural history of Ossabaw via guided tours, paddling excursions or self-guided hiking trips. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided. We’ll top of the day with an after-dinner educational program. 

Sunday, Oct. 30: Following breakfast, we’ll break camp and return to the mainland via a seven-mile route with the incoming tide about 9 a.m. Time and tides permitting we’ll explore the upper reaches of Red Bird Creek near Fort McAllister State Park.

American Canoe Association Liability Waivers

Very important! You must sign your American Canoe Association liability waiver in order to participate in this adventure. Please click on the link below, fill out the online form and submit it. Once you’ve done that you will receive an e-mail. You must respond to that e-mail to complete the waiver submission!



In order to safely paddle in open coastal waters, you need to bring a boat that will allow you to rescue yourself or be assisted in rescue in deep water. Conditions on the coast do not allow paddlers to easily reach land, drain their boat and re-enter boat from land. The waters are surrounded by marshes (deep, thick mud) and oyster beds (sharp river beds that can cut feet, legs, hands, etc.).

Kayaks with bulkheads in the fore and aft that provide floatation are ideal. Sit-on-top kayaks are also suitable as are canoes with floatation in bow and stern or middle. Recreational sit-in kayaks will not be permitted on this trip. Bilge pumps will be required on all boats that are not self draining (sit on tops with scupper holes).

Coastal waters entail hazards not encountered on Georgia’s rivers. Wind and waves can create difficult conditions. Thus, if the weather forecast calls for high winds during the times of either of our trips to and from the island, we will instead opt to use a ferry service and will leave our person-powered watercraft on the mainland. If we must use the ferry service, there will be an additional $75 per person charge to cover the cost of the ferry service. 



Check-In Times: 

OCT. 28 8:30-10:00 a.m.

All participants must check in at the Fort McAllister State Park Red Bird Creek boat ramp/dock during these times. Please unload your gear at the dock, park your vehicle and then proceed to our Georgia River Network mandatory check in. We will depart for the island between 10-10:30 a.m. Upon check-in, you will receive your event packet that includes items like your Paddle Georgia 2021 t-shirt or other swag of your choice, Paddle Georgia 2021 decal and other information you need for your Ossabaw Island Adventure. You will also load your camping gear on a motorized ferry boat that will transport it to the island…though you are welcome to transport your gear in your own boat! PLEASE ARRIVE ON TIME. The tides are favorable for only a short window and we must depart in the 10-11 a.m. time frame to safely arrive at Ossabaw Island in the early afternoon. As a reminder, be prepared to pay a $5 parking fee for the state park.

Directions to Fort McAllister State Park Red Bird Creek Boat Ramp 

GPS Coordinates: 31.881103, -81.177787

Directions from I-95 Southbound: From Exit 90, travel east on Ga. 144 for 6.5 miles. Turn left on to Fort McAllister Road and proceed 4 miles. Turn left on Savage Island Road and proceed 1.1 mile. In campground, bear to the right and proceed to boat ramp parking area.

Google Map:



Our Ossabaw Island home for the weekend will be the island’s Club House, a restored four-bedroom 1880s-era hunting lodge that sleeps 22 people in bunks. You also have the option of tent camping on the island adjacent to the Club House. The Club House features three full baths and two half baths as well as a commons area and kitchen. Campers will have access to the Club House restrooms, showers and commons area. Registration fees vary based on which accommodations you choose.




With your registration you receive six catered meals: dinner on Oct. 28 and Oct. 29, and breakfasts and lunches on Oct. 29 and Oct. 30. Meals will be provided by Lesley Vernadore. Dinners will be paired with Molson-Coors and Terrapin Beer Co. products (teas and water will also be available).  Vegetarian/vegan options will be provided. If you wish to bring your own dishes and eating utensils, a dishwashing station will be provided. We encourage you to do this to help reduce waste associated with serving the meals. 

Lunches: Sack lunches come with your choice of sandwiches (pimento cheese, hummus, egg salad, turkey and swiss, ham and swiss) with chips, fruit and dessert. You will pick up your sack lunch the Club House each morning.


Saturday Oct. 29

Meat and vegetarian fajitas, hashbrowns, homemade biscuits, fresh fruit, yogurt, coffee, orange juice

Sunday Oct. 30

Mexican breakfast casserole (vegetarian and meat options) guacamole, salsa, grits, cornbread muffins, fresh fruit yogurt, coffee, orange juice


Friday Oct. 28

Fresh coastal fish, mashed potatoes, asparagus, salad, homemade vinaigarette, homemade bread, carrot cake, teas

Saturday Oct. 29

Chinese stir fry chicken and/or vegetables, rice, vegetarian egg rolls, dessert, teas

Daily Itinerary

Friday, Oct. 28

Registration: 8-10 a.m.

Paddle To Island: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Guided Walking Tour: 5 p.m.

Dinner/Educational Program: 6:30 p.m.

Lights Out: 10 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 29

Breakfast: 7 a.m.

Paddle Trip Exploring Bradley River and Camp Creek: TBD based on tides

Motorized Tour of Island: At participant’s discretion

Hiking: At particpant’s discretion

Dinner/Education Program: 6:30 p.m.

Lights Out: 10 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 30

Breakfast 7 a.m.

Pack Up Gear: 7-9 a.m.

Paddle to Mainland: 9 a.m. t0 1 p.m.

Optional Red Bird Creek Exploration: Noon-3 p.m.


Paddle Georgia Policies

  1. Sorry, no pets allowed.
  2. All participants must sign a Medical and Emergency Contact Information sheet and a Waiver of Claims and Release of Liability form. Parents must sign for children under the age of 18.
  3. All participants must respect private property along the river.
  4. All participants opting to paddle must possess basic paddling skills and be capable of self-rescue in the water.
  5. Georgia River Network is not responsible for any personal property that may be lost, damaged, or stolen during the trip.

Code of Conduct

At Georgia River Network, we like to think of our adventure participants as our “river family.” We come from many different backgrounds, but the river is the great equalizer and our common bond. We want all participants to treat one another as family.


  • Be respectful of all participants, including their property, their person and their personal views. On our adventures you will paddle, eat and camp with people that are very different from you. Please respect and celebrate those differences.
  • Be helpful. If you see someone that needs a hand in camp, please lend yours.
  • Be courteous. Be prepared to wait in lines for restrooms, shuttle buses, meals and more.


  • Use inappropriate language. This is a family event with participants of all ages.
  • Verbally or physically intimidate or abuse other participants.
  • Become intoxicated or under the influence of mind-altering drugs.
  • Violate quiet hours by engaging in loud talk and disruptive behavior between 10 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.

Violations of these policies and our code of conduct can result in the participant being removed from the event without refund.

For Parents and Guardians of Children

Parents and guardians are responsible for the welfare and safety of their minor participants at all times. Understand that while Georgia River Network’s adventure trips almost without exception attract uncommonly good and kind people, Georgia River Network does not screen participants or conduct background checks on participants.

Refund Policy

Any registration cancellations made by October 22 will incur a 10% processing fee. After October 22, no refunds will be granted. If you have questions or need assistance, call our office at 706-549-4508

What Should I Bring?

Participants camping at Cabretta Pioneer Campground must bring standard camping gear including a tent and personal items. Please do not bring cooking appliances/ food (other than snacks) unless you have special food preferences/ needs and have received special permission from GRN as space is limited for gear on the ferry.

Please note that gear space on the ferry is limited. Beach/lawn chairs, bicycles, surf/paddle boards and giant coolers are prohibited. 

Here’s a checklist of essential items: First Aid Kit; Sunscreen; Necessary Medication; Water Bottles (at least 3 quart bottles for each person); Flexible mindset; Tent or other shelter, sleeping bag or sleep sack and sleeping pad (if you are camping); Clothing for weekend; Proper footwear for river and land; Rain gear.


Here’s a checklist of suggested optional items: Labels with your luggage and other personal belongings; Ground Cloth; Reusable Plate/Utensils (wash stations provided); Waterproof Stuff Sacks for Camp Gear; Waterproof stuff sack or case for lunch and other items (like dry clothing); Clothes/Swimsuit; Money to tip the caterers; Insect Repellent; Towel/Wash Cloth; Soap, Toothpaste, Toiletries; Flashlight/Head Lamp; Book; Camera; Fishing Gear/License; Duct Tape; Hat or Cap (don’t forget to get your Paddle Georgia hats!); Bug netting; Extra Length of Rope; Ear Plugs (Some of our paddlers snore!); Sleep Shades (Lights out at 10 p.m.); Laptop & Electronic Communication Devices (optional and frowned upon!); Water Guns/Cannon (optional and encouraged!);  Lightweight long sleeved pants or shirts for bug protection in the evening; Layered non-cotton clothing.

Participants choosing to attend the 5 hour Guided Paddle on Saturday, should bring:

  1. First Aid Kit—while our guides will have first aid kits on hand, it’s always a good idea to bring a basic first aid kit stored inside a waterproof bag or container.
  2. Rain Gear—Be prepared to get wet. Every participant should have access to a lightweight rain jacket and rain pants in a waterproof bag or container.
  3. Appropriate footwear that will protect your feet from unseen underwater hazards and permit you to walk comfortably on land.
  4. Sunscreen—Sunburn might be the trip’s biggest hazard.
  5. Water Bottle  — Bring sufficient water for a 5 hour journey.
  6. Dry Bag or Ziploc—Bring a waterproof bag to protect items you don’t want to get wet, including your lunch.

Paddle Georgia Safety Procedures

Paddle Georgia participants should be aware that this trip is not a commercially-guided trip. While Georgia River Network and Paddle Georgia staff will be available on the river during each day’s activties and participants with medical and/or First Aid training will be identified, we cannot personally ensure the safety of all participants. Unlike a commercial trip in which paid guides direct you through each bend of the river, Paddle Georgia is designed to be your adventure, and as such, you are responsible for your own safety. All participants are assuming risks (some of which are outlined below) while participating in Paddle Georgia.


For a reminder of basic paddling safety practices, watch this American Canoe Association Video.

Weather: Average High Temperature: 86 F; Average Low Temperature: 68 F. Average September Rainfall: 5.6 inches


Strainers—Strainers are branches, trees, vegetation or other partially or totally submerged obstacles in the river’s current often found along the river’s edge. These hazards allow only water to pass through freely. The current will pull anything else down, plastering it into place, similar to the action of a kitchen colander. It is best to approach submerged trees or logs along the river bank from the downstream side to avoid having the current pin your boat against the obstacle or flipped by the force of the water. You should also avoid grabbing on to low hanging branches of partially submerged vegetation as this action can often cause your boat to capsize. To avoid a multi-boat pile up, leave enough room between boats to allow each boat to safely navigate around these obstacles.

Weather—Strong thunderstorms and high winds are not uncommon. In the event of inclement weather that includes the risk of lightning, paddle to shore, secure your boat and find cover under a dense stand of small trees. Avoid open areas, especially open areas with solitary trees, and avoid gathering in large groups. By dispersing yourselves over a large area, you reduce the risk of lightning striking numerous individuals at one time. Squatting, with your feet on a personal flotation device or seat cushion, is a good idea when in the midst of a thunderstorm (while on solid ground—not in your boat!).

Sun and Heat—Hats and appropriate sun screen are recommended. If you get too hot, the river comes with built in air conditioning – get in and cool off. You should carry at least three quarts of water each day to avoid dehydration. Sports drinks with electrolytes are also recommended. The first two days are usually the most difficult as we acclimate from spending lots of time in air-conditioned buildings to spending all day in 80-90-degree heat. Prepare by drinking lots of fluids in the days leading up to the trip.

Water Temperature—The combination of cold water and a cold afternoon thunderstorm raises the risk of dangerous changes in body temperature. Be prepared with rain gear and layered clothing that stays warm even when wet (avoid cotton).

Water Quality – Due to a variety of conditions, water quality can vary and organisms that cause illness may be present. Swimming and submersion in the water increase the risk of contracting water-borne illnesses. Ingesting river water should be avoided and cuts and sores should be kept out of the water and treated if exposed.

Trash—Unfortunately, Georgia’s waterways collect refuse from surrounding communities. Proper footwear and exercising caution can prevent unnecessary injuries. Participants should wear sandals or shoes that provide adequate protection from broken bottles, rusted appliance parts and tin cans and anything else you might find at your local landfill.

Venomous Snakes—The land surrounding our paddle routes is potential habitat for three venomous snakes—rattlesnakes, water moccasins and coral snakes. If you encounter any snakes, simply leave them alone. Should you have the misfortune of being bitten, remain calm and get medical assistance as quickly as possible. Bites from these venomous snakes are rarely fatal, given proper medical attention. At any given moment on this trip you will not be more than a few hours from a hospital.

Terra Firma—Please step carefully when paying visits to land. And, remember, the Okefenokee is the “land of the trembling earth!” What looks like solid ground might sink when you put your weight on it! 

Your Fellow Paddlers—This is a journey involving many individuals with varying degrees of skill level. Space yourselves so that you do not interfere with one another when maneuvering around obstacles. Pileups on the river can be just as dangerous as those that occur on interstate highways.

Paddle Georgia “Buddy System”-  Participants opting for the Guided Paddling Trip option

We will rely on the “Buddy System” to ensure that all participants arrive safely at the day’s take-out point. Before Saturday’s paddle, identify your “buddy boat or boats.” This will be the boat or group of boats with whom you will paddle for the day. The group is responsible for ensuring that if someone needs help on the river that someone is nearby to provide help and that no one is left behind. Do not lose sight of your buddy boat or members of your buddy boat group. Participants who have not identified a buddy boat for the day’s paddle will not be permitted to launch from the day’s put-in point. A sweep boat will bring up the rear of the day’s paddle to further ensure that no one is left behind

Other Considerations

What do I do if I capsize? On slow moving water, stay with your boat and swim it to shore or shallow water where you can dump the water and right your vessel. It floats even when full with water and can support you if you become tired. Make sure your belongings are secured to your boat to keep from losing them in the event of a capsize. Your fellow buddy boaters can assist in recovering any belongings and help you right your boat.In fast-moving water or rapids, get away and upstream from your boat until you reach slower moving water. Float on your back.  Don’t try to stand in fast-moving water.  Rocks or other objects can trap your feet and the force of the water can hold you under. Moving canoes filled with water can pin or crush paddlers against rocks or trees.

In the event of inclement weather…As noted above, thunderstorms are not uncommon, however, usually these afternoon-variety showers do not last long. If you are on the river during a storm event, take appropriate cover as described above, wait out the storm and continue your journey when it appears safe. Protective facilities along the river for large groups are not available.

We will make every effort to ensure that each day’s programs are completed in full. However, if all-day dangerous weather is predicted, the days programs will be cancelled for the day.

Paddle Georgia 2022

a project of
Georgia River Network

Paddle Georgia 2021

126 South Milledge Avenue, Suite E3, Athens, Georgia 30605 | (706) 549-4508 (phone) |