Here in Central Alabama, outdoor activities and adventures abound. But in the summer, the best way to keep your cool while having fun in the sun is to make your way to the water, and there are several options for some river revelry. (They don’t call us the River Region for nothing.)
One of my favorites is a paddle trip down the Jordan Dam Tailwater portion of the Coosa River in Wetumpka, about 10 miles outside of Montgomery. It promises a little adventure and some wildlife watching served with a side of refreshing breezes.
This seven-mile, dam-controlled stretch of the Coosa is the only whitewater on Alabama’s Scenic River Trail (the longest designated water trail in the country) and hosts an annual whitewater festival each May.
Its clean waters are cool but not too cold, and its rock-strewn bed and banks create numerous class II rapids and one class III that combined, are just thrilling enough to satisfy more experienced paddlers and easy enough to show novice paddlers a great time without scaring them off the sport.
You can paddle the Coosa in as little as two and a half hours, but take the time to look out for this stretch of river’s amazing diversity of bird life (osprey, eagles, great blue herons), beautiful flowers (like the rare and lovely Cahaba Lily) and more.
When you reach the only class III rapid, Moccasin Gap, pull your boat up to the rock island and take a snack break. If you wanna get wet, take a dip in the swimming hole on the south side of the island. And if, you’re lucky, kayakers will be there putting on a show as they practice freestyle kayak tricks in the rapid.
Several outfitters including the Coosa Outdoor Center [http://www.coosaoutdoorcenter.com] and Coosa River Adventures [http://www.coosariveradventures.com] offer boat and gear rentals as well as some instruction, or if you’ve got your own boat, the Coosa Outdoor Center will shuttle you to the put-in for a small fee. Just call ahead and check on times and availability.