Cumberland Island National Seashore Trails Project

Cumberland Island National Seashore

Cumberland Island National Seashore | Photo courtesy of Andre Turner, Georgia Conservancy

Cumberland Island is one of Georgia’s most iconic precious places and its protection as a National Seashore in 1972 is a shining achievement of the Georgia Conservancy, which was then a five-year old conservation organization. As historic and current advocates for Cumberland Island, we are excited to share that REI, is supporting the stewardship of Cumberland Island National Seashore by allowing YOU the chance to vote on the funding of a Georgia Conservancy-led backcountry trail restoration project.

Here’s the catch, each Every Trail Connects dollar is allocated though a public voting contest! REI will give away $500,000 total, $5 per vote, up to $75,000 per trail. One vote per person per day per device, no purchase necessary, no email required.

By voting every day for Cumberland Island on all of your connected devices, you are telling REI and the world that our state’s only National Seashore is worthy of a world-class trail system.

Vote today and every day at!

Every Trail Connects is a funding campaign hosted by REI in support of 10 iconic trail systems across the county. We’re honored that the Cumberland Island Trail Restoration Project was the only southeast trail project selected by our friends at REI.

The Georgia Conservancy and REI chose the Cumberland Island Trail Restoration Project due to its critical ecological importance as both designated wilderness and a biosphere to a plethora of species which are also in dire need of attention. Many visitors have found it difficult to navigate the backcountry trails and report getting lost, thus necessitating a large scale restoration projects to improve access for the general public.

Through the Cumberland Island Trail Restoration Project 100% of Cumberland Island National Seashore’s trail system will be open, clear and easily navigable by October 2016. This will be done by improving trail access and creating maps, signage and kiosks for Georgia’s pristine barrier island.

Cumberland Island

Cumberland Island | Photo courtesy of Phuc Dao, Georgia Conservancy

Over the last 8 years, the Georgia Conservancy has worked with the NPS to host multiple service weekends, and more recently, the Cumberland Island Alternative Spring Break program.

In 2014, Georgia Conservancy led more than 250 volunteers on the island for its Alternative Spring Break Program. The Georgia Conservancy also hosts service trips to Cumberland Island of approximately 75 people during the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. Participants clear debris from forest trails, pick up trash that washed onto the island’s beaches and help maintain the historic structures that are managed by the National Park Service.

The Georgia Conservancy has long been at the forefront of the effort to protect Cumberland Island and these projects are just a continuation of our historic support of the island. In the early 1970s, we lobbied in support of the creation of Cumberland Island National Seashore – the largest National Seashore in the United States, and in the early 1980s advocated for a majority of the island to be designated as Federal Wilderness.

Today marks a huge day in that long and storied history of Georgia’s only National Seashore. And today, you can help write the next chapter in its history. By becoming an active internet advocate for Cumberland’s stewardship, you can ensure that generations of adventure seekers (you included) can experience the harrowing and hallowed trails that crisscross this island.

How can you support Cumberland Island?

Bookmark the link to our Every Trail Connects HQ: and on August 14 vote to support a restored backcountry trail system on

Cumberland Island! We’re counting on our supporters to vote as soon as the campaign begins. Vote daily. Vote on every device.

Please share “Every Trail Connects” with your friends, family and coworkers through social media, email or more! Our Every Trail Connects HQ has great photos, sample text and stories about people’s experiences on Cumberland Island.

We’re aiming to take advantage of all platforms available to encourage everyone to #VoteCumberland.

We are launching a storytelling project called “Cumberland Connects” and inviting the public to share a personal story with us about Cumberland Island. We know that “every trail connects” so how has Cumberland connected with to you? Please share with us your most vivid and inspiring Cumberland stories. To complement your story, we’re also asking if you’d share your favorite picture of Cumberland and also a picture of yourself on Cumberland. If we all vote and advocate for Cumberland Island, we can ensure restoration projects that will make one of Georgia’s most beautiful trail systems accessible to all!

Brian Foster

Brian Foster is the Communications Director for the Georgia Conservancy, a citizen of Atlanta and a proud native of Rome, Georgia. (Bio photo courtesy of Sarah Dodge.)

The Grand 2.0 Columbus Whitewater Paddle

Grand Columbus Whitewater PaddleThis Saturday, August 8th, the Georgia Conservancy and partners Uptown Columbus and Whitewater Express will return to the Chattahoochee in Downtown Columbus for the second annual Grand Columbus Whitewater Paddle.

Last year, more than 1,100 paddlers ran the rapids of the world’s longest stretch of urban whitewater. This year, we look to impressively surpass that number!

Rafters will hit the water beginning at 9 AM and will be guided by the experts at Whitewater Express. Groups will continue to raft throughout the day until 6 PM.

Also, rafters and spectators are invited to join us for our after-paddle music showcase beginning at 3:00 PM in downtown’s Woodruff Park. Southern-indie record label This Is American Music will present incredible tunes from Blue Blood, Fire Mountain, Sailing to Denver and The Bohannon’s.Grand 2.0 Columbus Whitewater Paddle

Our friends at SweetWater Brewing Company will be there, of course! Every Grand 2.0 paddler will receive a complementary wristband, souvenir cup and drink ticket (good for one SweetWater beer or Coca-Cola Company soft drink.)

The after-paddle party will also include a SweetWater Brewing Company beer garden, food trucks, outdoor restrooms, and Grand 2.0 merchandise.

Tickets for rafting and the after-paddle party start at just $25.

For those not rafting, a wristband for the after-paddle party is just $8 and includes a free beverage of your choice!

After the sun goes down, Whitewater Express employees (and any adventurous whitewater kayakers) will put on a “Saturday Night Lights” demonstration at the new section of whitewater illuminated by stadium lights.

Georgia ConservancyThe Georgia Conservancy will also host a Kick-Off Party on Friday, August 7 at The Loft in Downtown Columbus. Join us for live music, a SweetWater Brewing Company tap takeover and learn more about the incredible effort to restore the Chattahoochee River and create a world-class whitewater course.

Thank you to presenting sponsors, PricewaterhouseCoopers and TSYS.

For more information and to register, please visit:

Brian Foster

Brian Foster is the Communications Director for the Georgia Conservancy, a citizen of Atlanta and a proud native of Rome, Georgia. (Bio photo courtesy of Sarah Dodge.)

Top 10 Georgia Conservancy Trips for 2015


Since 1967, the Georgia Conservancy has been guiding trips across the state that showcase Georgia’s imperiled natural resources and provide the public with the opportunity to advocate for their protection. We use our network of partners and peers to provide access to barrier islands, river systems and nature preserves normally inaccessible or off-limits to the public.

From Cloudland Canyon to Cumberland Island – we hike, paddle and conserve this state!

What started out as a half-dozen trips per year for a handful of Conservancy members has grown into a program that can serve hundreds of people each weekend, many from communities of color that have historically not been included in outdoor recreation opportunities.

Our expanded 2015 offering of service weekends, adventure trips and Heartland Rivers of Georgia paddles, will touch every corner of the state and provide outdoor enthusiasts, from novice to seasoned, a unique introduction to Georgia’s incredible natural resources.

Our hand-selected Top 10 Trips of 2015 are open for registration! The rest of our Stewardship Trips will roll out in seasonal releases across 2015. Fear of missing out on a great time? Become a Georgia Conservancy supporter to receive notification of trip releases and Conservancy updates!

Thank you to REI for their leadership and support of the Georgia Conservancy’s Stewardship Trips Program!


2015 Georgia Conservancy Stewardship Trips

Date Top 10 Trips of 2015 and CI Service – Open For Registration Trip Type
Jan. 16 – 18 Cumberland Island Service Weekend Service Trip
Jan. 30 – Feb. 1 Cabretta Beach / Blackbeard Island Adventure GA Bucket List Trip
Feb. 21 Satilla River Day Paddle Heartland Rivers Paddle
Mar. 20 – 22 Altamaha River to Sea Paddle Heartland Rivers Paddle
May 15 – 17 Augusta Canal Paddle Heartland Rivers Paddle
Jun. 5 – 7 Conasauga Snorkel and Mulberry Gap Adventure GA Bucket List Trip
Jun. 26 – 28 Flint River Paddle at Rocky Bend Reserve Heartland Rivers Paddle
Jul. 10 – 12 Len Foote Hike Inn Service Weekend Service Trip
Aug. 8 The Grand Columbus Whitewater Paddle GA Bucket List Trip
Sept. 12 – 13 Flint River Family Adventure Heartland Rivers Paddle
Nov. 6 – 8 Ocmulgee Water Trails Paddle Heartland Rivers Paddle
Date Winter Release – January 21 Trip Type
Mar. 14 – 15 Flint River Deluxe Paddle at Montezuma Bluff Heartland Rivers Paddle
Apr. 10 Ochlockonee River Paddle at Sweet Grass Dairy Heartland Rivers Paddle
Apr. 24 – 26 Three Rivers Paddle and Broxton Rocks Tour Heartland Rivers Paddle
May 8-10 Ogeechee River Paddle and Ossabaw Island Tour Heartland Rivers Paddle
Date Summer Release – May 20 Trip Type
Jul. 25 Chattahoochee River Paddle at Riverview Landing Heartland Rivers Paddle
Aug. 14-16 Cloudland Canyon Adventure Weekend GA Bucket List Trip
Sept. 18-20 Ossabaw Island Service Weekend Service Weekend
Oct. 3 Yellow River Day Paddle Heartland Rivers Paddle
Date Fall Release  – July 22 Trip Type
Oct. 9 – 11 Sapelo Island Service Weekend Service Weekend
Oct. 24 Chattahoochee Hills Paddle Heartland Rivers Paddle
Nov. 13 – 15 Okefenokee Adventure GA Bucket List Trip
Dec. 4 – 6 Sea Camp Cumberland Island Adventure GA Bucket List Trip



The Grand Columbus Whitewater Paddle


On August 9th, the Georgia Conservancy and partners Uptown Columbus and Whitewater Express are putting a GRAND on the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia. To commemorate last year’s opening of the world’s largest stretch of urban whitewater and to celebrate the Chattahoochee’s reemergence in Columbus, join 1,000 adventurers on the river for a day of whitewater rafting.

What you’ll see during The Grand Columbus Whitewater Paddle would have been impossible just two years ago. Whitewater rafting in downtown Columbus?!

For more than one hundred years, the Eagle and Phenix, and City Mills dams impeded the southerly flow of the Chattahoochee and brought its once mighty rush to a snail’s pace as it passed through Columbus. Though hidden for decades, the rocky floor that rested beneath the calm waters was well known to those who understood the history of the city.

Whitewater Express PhotoThe treacherous shoals of the fall line, the geologic formation that divides Georgia’s piedmont and coastal plain regions, was the northernmost point of travel for vessels traveling the Chattahoochee and the perfect location for hydro-powered industry and inland markets. It made economic sense that river towns like Columbus, Macon and Augusta laid their foundations at the fall line. As the industrial age ignited across America, dams were built and mills were constructed along the river. At the heart of the Chattahoochee,where once there was a natural wonder, a thriving city rose.

In 2013, the dams came down. The power that they had produced was no longer needed to fuel the city’s economy. However, the economic potential of the long-submerged rocky shoals remained, and forward-thinking civic leaders knew that with an undammed river, the power of the fall line could again be harnessed.

It is now the outdoor adventurer, not the industrialist, who seeks the world-class, free-flowing rapids of the Chattahoochee – rapids that, for so long, lay silenced. With the opening of the Columbus whitewater course on the Chattahoochee in 2013 – the longest stretch of urban whitewater in the world – Columbus is again looking to its river to fuel the future.

Leading the action on the water for The Grand will be the experienced rafting guides and support team from Whitewater Express, the official outfitter for the Columbus whitewater.

Seven different rafting time slots will be offered at a deep discount for participants throughout the day from the first run at 10 a.m. to the last high water run at 5 p.m.

2014.Grand.Poster.Final.smallIn addition to the day’s events on the river, there will be plenty to do on land. Some of the available time slots also give guests the option to go on a guided Riverwalk bike tour for a small additional fee, and many of the groups involved in the event will have areas set up for fun and games.

Registration, while already deeply discounted, includes an invitation to an after-paddle party hosted at the Whitewater Express Outpost in Uptown Columbus and features live music from Sailing to Denver, local Columbus food trucks, an outdoor splash and play fountain, games, prizes, and activities hosted by the Atlanta Hawks Flight Team. Uptown Columbus will be shutting down the street for the after-paddle party between Whitewater Express and Woodruff Park at 1000 Bay Street.

All rafting guests and sponsors will receive a “drink ticket” for a free SweetWater beer (and a beer wristband) or a soft drink. The after-paddle party gets kicked-off at 5:30 p.m. and wraps up at 8:30 p.m. and includes a brief speaking engagement from Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson.

For those who wish to enjoy the evening without having paddled the river, tickets for the after-paddle party will be available to the general public for $5.

GC Logo JPEG MedTo continue its celebration of Columbus, the Georgia Conservancy is honoring civic leadership from the city with its Distinguished Conservationist award at ecoBenefete, the Conservancy’s annual gala, on September 26th for their vision of a city that embraces its natural amenities.


To register for The Grand Columbus Whitewater Paddle, please visit:

Presenting sponsors for The Grand Columbus Whitewater Paddle are PricewaterhouseCoopers and TSYS.

Brian Foster kayakBrian Foster is Communications Director for the Georgia Conservancy. Founded in 1967, the Georgia Conservancy is a statewide, environmental nonprofit whose mission is to protect Georgia’s land and water through its programmatic work in sustainable growth planning; advocacy and outreach; coastal initiatives; outdoor stewardship and exploration; and public and private land conservation.