Not one for suffering winter? Deep South Eufaula harbors a thinly veiled winter kayakpacking refuge for those of us not lucky enough to live in the warmer climes of Alabama and South Georgia. If the weather is not enough to tempt, then maybe an oak lined island of your own from which to string a hammock and a honey of a fishing hole will be.
Long, narrow and fingered like most man-made lake/reservoirs, Eufaula (officially Walter F. George Lake) covers a sprawling 46,000-acres that borders Georgia and Alabama by effectively damming up the Chattahoochee River (in and of itself a great paddle) on its southern end near Fort Gaines.
There are a couple of options for your put in.
Prefer a Alabama start? Your best option may be Thomas Mill Creek Boat Ramp off of Henry County 97. From there its a 2 mile (3.2Km) paddle east and north around the point then a mile and a quarter (2Km) across the lake to your camp. You'll cross the Alabama/Georgia state line about a football fields length from shore as you start your run from the point.
Prefer not to set foot or paddle in Alabama? then put in at the lake's southern most reaches near the George Lock and Dam at East Bank Public Use Area. and makes your way about 11 clicks (7 miles) north along willowed banks, bass fishing holes and cattail marshes to a camp at Gopher Island (31.7143, -85.10353). Despite its northern track you'll not be greatly effected by the current unless the George is in heavy production or the rains have been especially heavy.
Rabbit Island has about everything you would really love about a lake island hideaway. Hanging a hammock? Sturdy oaks and willows are abundant in the center and on the eastern shores. Aardvarks and a resident gaggle of geese are likely pay a visit and bass fishing in the grass beds on the south side of Gopher was productive just off shore, even in the chilly waters of the Eufaula.
Even as the air temperatures hovered around 75 on this January escape the average water temperatures are in the mid 60's. Best to check the forecast and prepare as needed. Generally we follow the 120 degree rule which says that if the combination of air and water are less than 120F (49C) then opt for a dry suit.
TRIP SMITH hails from South Alabama and adventures all over the Southeast United States. He enjoys everything that has to do with outdoors. When he's not on or planning an adventure he is a full-time fireman, husband and father.
He is the host of Out There, a popular outdoor channel on Youtube.