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This nearly 8-mile trail occupies a unique historic and natural setting in the heart of Augusta. Originally constructed in 1845, the waterway itself is the only unbroken, accessible industrial canal in the South. Its textile heritage is preserved in several existing period structures, including the ornate Sibley Mill and a Confederate-era parapet. The trail is part of the larger Augusta Canal National Heritage Area, which centers on the Augusta Canal Interpretive Center.
The packed-dirt trail is firm enough that travelers could take a road bike on it and it is largely wheelchair accessible, except after a rain when the trail may get muddy in spots. The pathway runs along a strip of green between the canal and the Savannah River, where small rapids cascade over granite ledges separating the coastal plain from the piedmont plateau.
Starting from the outskirts of downtown, the trail passes Sibley Mill, enters a lightly developed neighborhood then really turns on the charm along a tree-canopied segment beyond an I-20 underpass. You would never know you're just a stone's throw from downtown. The shady forest and adjacent cool waterways offer relief in the steamy summer months.
Trailside activities include boat tours of the Savannah River, kayaking on the canal, mountain biking on trails that parallel the main route, and fishing (with a Georgia fishing license). The northern end of the trail provides access to the scenic Savannah Rapids Park, where bike, canoe, and kayak rentals are available.
Near the southern end of the trail, at the Lake Olmstead Trailhead, you can cross the Augusta Canal bridge to continue your stroll or bike ride for another 2 miles on the paved River Levee Trail, which offers lovely views of the Savannah River and the downtown skyline.
At the north end of the trail, parking, restrooms, and drinking water are available in Savannah Rapids Park (3300 Evans to Locks Rd., Martinez).
Near the southern end of the trail, you can also take Broad Street from downtown Augusta west to Goodrich Street and turn right. Continue just under a mile to a parking lot at the pumping station adjacent to the King and Sibley mills.
Another popular starting or stopping point is the Lake Olmstead Trailhead (1 Milledge Road) as it offers parking, restrooms, drinking fountains, and a picnic pavilion.
The canal on one side, continuously, and the Savannah River fall on the other side (off and on some of the way), what could be better. Mostly hard-packed clay and light gravel; some disintegrating asphalt and cinder. Occasional mud ruts after hard rains, but usually repaired quickly. Lush in the spring, and beatiful in the fall. Mostly no grade at all; originally the canal tow path. Two prime and one sub-prime, spots to stop and take a dip, one on the Savannah, the other on a canal offshoot; and one near the canal dam. You could even ride up and kayak down. Seriously. I live here and the paved Noth Augusta Greenway is my second favorite, but go-to ride. Both are about 10-12 miles round trip, depending on add-ones. Great close parking at Lake Olmstead off Broad and Millegeville Rds. Cross the wooden bridge, go left and 5 miles later you're at the Canal dam and north-west end of the trail. Worth a stop and soaking in in God's great scenery (to quote my daughter at age 6; not that we're all that pious, but "out of the mouths of babes..."
rode the trail and the scenery was very nice and liked the historical landmarks. plenty of photography opportunities on the savannah river and liked the waterfalls near the bike shop and visitors ctr. the trail also extends 4 miles near Evans ga on Evans to locks Rd. also close to I-20 about 5-10min. close to Washington Rd area
Nice scenery, friendly people love the change on foliage from spring to summer to autumn. Get to see lots if turtles sunbathing and the occasional beavers. Very good for family outing or by yourself
Walking, biking, or running, from the trailhead at the locks down to Lake Olmstead and beyond, this trail is a must visit.
It is hard to believe you are only a mile and a half off of I 20 when riding this trail. The trail is nice hard packed red clay and asphalted in some areas. Stop and read the placards and learn the history of the area and be sure to go all the way to the head gate where there is still a working hand cranked gate for the canal locks that were built in 1874. The ride is full of stunning beauty of the Savannah river and the canal tow road. If you are on a mountain bike be sure to ride one of the best single tracks I have ever come across. Enjoy the ride and share the info with others.
I am fron PA, found this trail while spending 3 months in West Columbia.
Great trail.....made me feel like a flatlander....but all in all great scenery, trial had wide girth which I find helpful .....and friendly southern people.
The start of the trail is at a gated entrance. The first 1/4 is a bit rocky and rough gravel. Then, the newest paved section is reached. Very smooth and pretty ride from there. Wonderful job on the construction of the bridges with terraced sections. There is a nice bathroom house half way through the ride.
I have rode the trail many times over and incorporate the North Augusta Greenway Trail into this ride. I start most times at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion and ride into downtown. I then cross in South Carolina and ride the North Augusta Greenway to the end at I 20 and turn to go back to the Pavilion. That ride is 32 miles.
Great trail for fat tire bikes! We thoroughly enjoyed the scenery as we followed the river and rode to the old textile mill for a total of 7.5 miles.
Ran the trail today, great trail for both running and biking. Even though it was raining for the first 3 miles, I barely noticed with all the overhead cover, I actually would not have known it was raining if I had not looked over at the canal. This is a very well used trail, lots of families out along with runners and bikers. Highly recommend this for a great outing, I did a total of 7.5 miles.
biked the tow path from julian park to the north end of the canal in october. lovely temps, foilage, kayakers in the canal, joggers and cyclists on the tow path. surface changes from hard packed dirt, to pea gravel, to asphalt. one cant just zone out b/c the surface will move around on ya. but city bikes or hybrids have no trouble at all. the view over the retaining wall of the every dropping central savannah river is a photo opp for sure. lovely little bridges, and connectors keep the path rolling for miles. AND the bike peddler is setup at the north end to rent bikes for folks that dont bring theirs.
This Augusta Canal Trail is well worth the drive from Atlanta, especially when combined with the North Augusta Greeneway Trail across the Savannah River.
I work a mile away from Lake Olmstead and try to hit the trail often during lunch. It's 11.8 miles round trip to Savannah Rapids and a GREAT way to spend a lunch hour (OK, an hour and 15 minutes). The red clay section from the canal spillway to the pumping station can be a bit gummy after a rain but other than that it's a wonderful ride.
A couple of day trip easily got in the North Augusta Greenway and the Augusta Canal trails. The entrance off Goodrich Street that went to the Pumping Station is blocked at the Sibley Textile Mill. Although there are some unlocked parking areas here, it is pretty isolated so keep your car and your personal safety in mind. Across the canal there currently is construction of a new Kroc Center with some trail paving going on but we felt not a good area to park in so looked elsewhere further north (or west)
We also looked at the gravel parking area at the dead end of Millage Road adjacent to Lake Olmsted. Although we chose not to access the train from here, there is a bridge across the canal at this point and you can park and get to the trail very easily.
Our choice was the parking lots at Eisenhower Park located on the dead end of Eisenhower Drive off Broad Street. Follow Eisenhower and take a right immediately after crossing the CSX Railroad track. Take this drive to the dead end. You will see a fence across the street, but the Augusta Parks department keeps a path mowed around the gate to the left and a path goes under the bridge for River Watch Parkway. Follow this path to the canal and there is a small bridge which will lead you across the canal where you will now access the Canal Trail at the Augusta Waterworks Pump Station. (Keep in mind this IS an active mainline for the CSX Railroad to keep little ones (and yourself) clear of the track.
Once across the canal, you can go either to the right toward downtown Augusta or left heading to the head of the canal. We were on the trail the day after a deluge rain (see report on North Augusta Greenway Trail) but found very little mud and a very easy ride. There is decent shade heading north or to your left from this point and less tree canopy or shade heading south since you are on the top of the Augusta Levee. There are porta-potties northward from this point but take your own water.
Take a look at the "Birdseye view" on Google Maps where you can easily see the canal and the trails along the former "tow-path" and top of the levee. Helmets on, Kick-stands up... have a great and safe ride!!
My husband and I checked out the Augusta Canal trail this morning and what a workout we got! Not many coasting opportunities which meant constant peddling for nearly the entire route. I clocked 12.83 miles from our start at the Savannah Rapids Park off Evans to Locks Road and Stevens Creek. We parked at the top of the hill and started the trail from atop, which meant we ended the trail atop too...LOL. The scenery is great and the trail is very well maintained. We enjoyed the kayaks and the waterfalls. The narrow bridge crossing was a bit nerve wrecking to me, but my husband loved it. He's quite the daredevil. I'm sure we'll be visiting again!
There was a gentleman that said about the path that starts at the pavilion. Well that pathway starts at the entrance to the pavilion and ends just past Blue Ridge Dr. I haven't tried the trail yet but from what I got from a taste of it up at the head gates it looks like a pretty good trail. I'll give it a few stars for now until I finally finish it
My wife and I just "happened" up on this wonderful trail.We had a long weekend and went to Mistletoe State park,about 30 miles away, for some biking. We biked early and later found ourselves doing a canal Boat Tour in Augusta and found out about the old converted towpath along the canal. The next day we opted for the canal trail instead of the state park and were so glad we did. It was pleasureable and relatively easy. We've only been biking about a year now and this is one of the best trails we've done. There's a lot of history that goes along with this path that most would find very interesting.Do a canal boat tour for the history part and a beautiful 7.5 mile ride into town from the Headgates on the Savannah River.
This is not mountain biking but it was good for us and our hybrids. Happy Trails............Mike & jean Whitfield
Saturday, Sept 27, 2008 was my second trip to the Augusta Canal. Even after raining all of the day before the path was in excellent condition. And, with autumn in the air, it was a delightful day. There were a lot of people (of all ages) bicycling, canoeing, walking, running, and enjoying the day. Everyone was kind and polite, although not everyone knew to "keep to the right." Most of the people on the trail kept between the headgates and the picnic area at "the clearing," which is good for the many youngsters I saw.
Parking and setting off at the headgates is best. There is plenty of parking, restrooms, a visitors' center, playground, and event pavilion. Plus, the scenery here is gorgeous -- a great way to start out. From here, the path is finely crushed, compacted gravel. After about a mile or so, the path changes to either macadam or a sandy surface over a hard clay base. There are areas of asphalt at the I-20 overpass and at the waterworks. The path is about 1/3 tree-covered areas and the rest is open.
The path seems to end once you arrive at the Sibley Mill. Indicator signs are vague, and the designated path seems to take you through some city streets where its best to stay on the street and keep moving (if you know what I mean). But, traffic is not that bad for the few blocks you'll have to ride through. The trail picks up again at 15th Street and Enterprise/Graniteville Mill. Once you get to the end of the path at the 13th Street turning basin, head down 13th Street toward the river.
The Riverwalk is a delightful place. The City has done a nice job with the Riverwalk Park, but unfortunately there is not much there to attract the residents. There's a really good science museum (Fort Discovery) a hotel, and a so-so art museum, but no shops or restaurants -- you know, none of things to keep attracting the locals to make it a "happening place." Too bad, but still worth the trip. If you happen to be there when the outdoor market is occurring, at least you can get lunch.
I made the trip on my mountain bike. One way, I rode to make time at 36 minutes -- headgates to Riverwalk. Allowing an hour for each way will give you plenty of time to stop and enjoy the scenery and take plenty of photos. Hybrid bikes will do just fine. Road bikes will do okay too, but watch for an occasional rut or dip. The path seems to be well-maintained, and it's a nice, level ride.
HIGHLY Recommended -- A+
The trail is great and has been extended 2.5 miles to Stevens Creek Elementary School from the headgates at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.
"While attending a relative's wedding a couple of years ago I was able to enjoy running along this canal trail. It is a beautiful and well maintained site. It is great for running, walking or biking. I am glad that I was able to visit and enjoy this trail while in Augusta. "
This very easy flat trail is worth the drive from anywhere in the state. The beauty of riding next to the Savannah river on one side and the canal on the other is a treat that every cyclist should experence.
"This is an absolutely outstanding trail for just about any purpose. It's dirt and some asphalt. Alternately shaded and open. Completely flat. Great for running, walking, birding, etc. Great views of the Savannah River."
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