A Peach of a Paddle
A Piedmont stream rich in beauty and diverse in flora and wildlife, the Alcovy is born in Gwinnett County near Lawrenceville and flows south, draining Walton and Newton counties before emptying into Jackson Lake. One of the main tributaries of the Ocmulgee River, the Alcovy is runnable downstream of the US 278 bridge east of Covington from November to early July in years of average rainfall. Below the US 278 crossing the Alcovy meanders through a wooded lowland swamp terrain with bypass islands and oxbow lakes supporting large stands of tupelo gum.
Passing under the Central of Georgia railroad bridge, the river emerges from the watery lowlands and continues in a well-defined channel with red clay banks of three to six feet that slope at angles of 45 to 90 degrees. The surrounding terrain remains wooded but is drier than it was upstream. Commontree varieties in the flood plain forests include sweet gum, swamp chestnut, oak, red ash, red maple, dogwood, possum hew, willow oak, and overcup oak.Along the banks, river birch, sugarberry, sycamore, and green ash predominate.
Downstream from the Henderson Mill Road the Alcovy begins to drop at a greater rate. One short series of ledges punctuates the run a mile below themouth of Long Branch Creek. Farther downstream the Alcovy remains calm until just upstream of the Newton Factory bridge. Here the Alcovy begins a series of Class III (IV) rapids, narrows, and ledges that culminate below the bridge in a rock garden, followed by a six-foot plunge into the lake pool. This thousand-yard section varies in difficulty and intensity according to water level. It should be scouted. The surrounding terrain is well forested and attractive.
The river's width varies from 25 to 40 feet at the GA 213 bridge to an average of 45 to 65 feet for most of its runnable length, then expands to 280 feet in spots as the Alcovy crashes down White and Factory shoals. Dangers, other than the rapids mentioned, are limited primarily to deadfalls. The current on the Alcovy is generally moderate, and the water color is usually a murky brown, which indicates a high concentration of dissolved clays. Access is good throughout.
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