A Peach of a Paddle

Georgia's Suwannee and Alcovy Rivers
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The Alcovy at a Glance

Section: Covington to Lake Jackson

Counties: Newton

Suitable For: Cruising

Appropriate For: Intermediates, advanced

Months Runnable: Late November-June

Interest Highlights: Scenery, wildlife, whitewater, local culture and industry

Scenery: Pretty to pretty in spots

Difficulty: International Scale I-III; Numerical Points 14

Average Width: 45-65 ft. 

Velocity: Moderate to fast

Gradient: 6.14 ft./mi.

Runnable Water Level: Minimum 170 cfs (Covington gauge); Maximum up to flood stage

Hazards: Deadfalls, difficult rapids, large hole at bottom of Factory Shoals 

Scouting: White and Factory shoals

Portages: White and Factory shoals, if situation warrants

Rescue Index: Accessible to accessible but difficult

Mean Water Temperature (0F):

Jan 41; Feb 43; Mar 48;
Apr 56; May 65; Jun 73;
Jul 75; Aug 73; Sep 69;
Oct 61; Nov 52; Dec 43

USGS Quads: Covington, Stewart

Sources of Additional Info:

Suwannee River Outpost (800) 428-4147
Additional information concerning the Florida sections of the Suwannee are available by writing: Florida Department of Natural Resources, Crown Building, Tallahassee, FL, 32304. 
USGS Quads: Billy's Island, The Pocket, Strange Island, Fargo, Needmore, Fargo SW


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.

© Article copyright Menasha Ridge Press. All rights reserved.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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