Hiking, Biking and Paddling the CanalThe wide, level towpath, once used by mules to pull canal boats to the headgates, today is a popular recreational trail for hikers, cyclists and runners. Additional trails into wooded and urban areas add variety to the outdoor experience. Canoers and kayakers can put in at several points and enjoy both the natural and urban scenery. You can pickup a map at the Interpretive Center, Lock Keepers Cottage Visitor Center or Download a map here.
Paths and Trails
Please walk to the right side
The Towpath. Originally used by draft animals to pull canal cargo boats upstream to the locks, today the towpath is the main hiking/biking path on the north side of the canal from the headgates to the raw water pumping station. No trees grew along the path in earlier times, as they do today. LOCATION: Between Canal and Savannah River. From headgates to rest area is recycled asphalt surface, then sand/clay dirt road to Goodrich Street.
Length of Towpath
Headgates to I-20: 2.05 miles
Headgates to the Raw Water Pumping Station: 3.5 miles
Headgates to the King/Sibley Mills: approximately 5 miles.
Headgates to 13th Street (end of level 1): approximately 7 miles
Mountain Bike Trail. Dirt trails maintained by area biking clubs between Savannah River and Railroad tracks. LOCATION: Entrance near Waterworks.
The New Bartram Trail. Noted American 18th Century naturalist William Bartram traveled to Augusta and throughout this part of Georgia and the Savannah River around the time of the American Revolution. He recorded hundred of plants and animals in his famous journal, now know as Bartram’sTravels. A modern-day trail was named in his honor in 2002. LOCATION: Lake Olmstead Bulkhead Bridge to northeast bank of canal. Surface is recycled asphalt with some areas of dirt or grass to 15th Street. (NOTE: The bridges behind Sibley Mill, King Mill and at Hawks Gully connecting downtown trail to upper portion are not completed.)
The Historic Trail. Along the southwest bank of the canal, this trail passes though Harrisburg, an 18th Century trading post that became a 19th Century mill village and is now a National Landmark historic district. LOCATION: This trail is through an urban area and crosses or uses some city streets. Surfaces vary. Begin at Lake Olmstead Bulkhead parking area, follow signs along southeast side of canal. Trail crosses to canal’s north side at 15th Street/Butt Bridge, ending at 13th Street/ Walton Rehabilitation Hospital.
Lake Olmstead Trail. Rae’s Creek formed Lake Olmstead after canal enlargement during 1870s. LOCATION: East side of lake from Bulkhead bridge to Julian Smith Casino (log recreation hall) at Broad Street
Downtown/ Riverwalk Trail: This trail follows city streets, crosses the canal’s second and third levels at several points and connects to Riverwalk. LOCATION: 15th Street to dirt path at levee. Cross 13th Street, dirt path to Morris Museum of Art at Riverwalk. From here, either proceed east on the Rivewalk to St. Paul’s Church or south on 10th Street to Telfair, west to 11th Street, south to Fenwick, then east to 8th or west to 13th Streets.
Other nearby hike and bike trails include the North Augusta, S.C. Greene Way (cross the Savannah River at 13th Street) and the Columbia County multi-use trail in Evans (from Headgate/ Savannah Rapids Park, follow path by Evans-to-Lock Road southwest.
Water Access (view Google map)
Canoers and kayakers can access the canal's first level from a number of low points along the banks. A Canoe launch dock is located below the Petersburg Boat Dock at the Headgate. Use caution near mill intake gates and when approaching the Lake Olmstead bulkhead. Petersburg tour boats have right of way. Gas/diesel powered boats are not allowed on the canal.
A stairway leads from the towpath to a Savannah River launch dock at the Headgates area. It is located across from the green pedestrian bridge.
River rocks are slick and Savannah River current is deceptively violent and subject to sudden increases due to releases from upstream dams. The Canal's second and third levels in the downtown area have man-made obstructions, may contain debris and have unpredictable water flows. These areas are hazardous to boaters.
Rules and Guidelines
Thousands of people enjoy the historic Augusta Canal and its trails every year. To enhance everyone’s enjoyment, please abide by these rules.
On the Trails
- No littering, please. Do not throw trash in the water. Pack it in. Pack it out
- Pets must be on a leash. Pick up and dispose of pet waste. Disposal bags and cans are provided for this purpose.
- Walk to the right to allow others to pass.
- Bicycles yield to pedestrians. All yield to official government vehicles.
- Don’t feed the alligators or other wildlife.
- No horses or off-road vehicles (ATVs).
- No alcohol.
- No discharge of firearms, bows/arrows
- No load radios
- A note on motorized vehicles Private vehicles are restricted from the towpath from the Goodrich Street/Eve Street Bridge gate Headgates. Only official city and canal authority motorized traffic permitted. Pedestrians should be alert for these vehicles.
- Do not jump from bridges, bulkheads, docks or any other structures.
On The Water
- No gasoline-powered motor craft in the canal.
- Yield to the Petersburg Tour Boats. Do not attempt to approach or board from another boat.
- By Georgia Law, all children under 11 must wear a personal flotation device. (lifejacket) when boating.
- No swimming.
WARNING: WEAR A LIFEJACKET when boating on the river or canal