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Constructed in the 1820s and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal was once an important transportation route for getting plantation goods to market. Now, hikers can travel along a mixture of rural roads and unpaved trail along the historic towpath, providing immersion into the areas economic and natural history - keep your eyes out for tortoises and gators that call the waterway home.
The canal itself is 16.5 miles, and the Chatham County Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs Department is working with the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Society to transform the canal area into a multi-purpose linear park. The trail winds through some of coastal Georgia's common habitats, including sandhill, swamp and pine forest. Boardwalks traverse wetland areas but high tides can sometimes cause flooding.
Seven miles of the towpath are open to foot traffic, from Lock 6 on the Ogeechee River to I-16 as follows: 0.5 mile at the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Museum & Nature Center (between Locks 6 and 5). Past Fort Argyle Road, the towpath is paved and called Bush Road, which runs about 3 miles. Lock 4 is located about 1 mile down this road. At Little Neck Road, the towpath is a dirt road to Half Moon Lake (the Canal's water source), which is spanned by a bridge and boardwalk to the Half Moon Lake Dam for about 1.5 miles. Beyond here there is a 0.5-mile paved road (Canal Bank Road) to Quacco Road. Across Quacco Road another 1.5 miles takes you to I-16. Beyond the two subdivisions is a swampy area may be difficult to access.
At the Ogeechee River terminus (near Lock 5) you can visit a small museum and nature center for a small entry fee to learn more about the canal's history and the local ecological history of the area. A loop trail south of the museum provides a nice option for those looking for a shorter hike or those who don't wish to traverse the paved roads that comprise most of the towpath to the north - the museum area trail offers some lovely views of both the canal and the Ogeechee River, with interpretive signage guiding your journey.
Take I-95 south from Savannah to Ft. Argyle Road and turn west on Fort Argyle Road. After about 2 miles, you'll find a parking lot for the trail and museum on the left. There is a minimal user fee.
Trail access to the loop trail is available from the museum, while the linear route along the canal starts as an on-road trip along Bush Road - the off-road trail segments are located further north along the canal, and do not feature dedicated parking.
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