Alapaha River Scrublands, Irwin County

Dirt Road Alapaha River Scrublands Floodplain Irwin County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

Much of the land surrounding the upper reaches of the Alapaha River is characterized by sandy soils, dunes and scrub oaks. They’re most often encountered by hunters and fishermen but they’re a magnificent ecosystem, worthy of exploring when you can get access. Several endangered species call these scrublands home.

Alapaha River Sand Dunes Scrublands Fragile Ecosystem Irwin County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

The Alapaha originates in southern Dooly County and flows southerly through or along the borders of Crisp, Wilcox, Turner, Ben Hill, Irwin, Tift, Berrien, Atkinson, Lanier, Lowndes, and Echols in Georgia and Hamilton County in Florida. The Willacoochee and Alapahoochee Rivers are its two main tributaries. It flows into the Suwanee River 1o miles south of Jasper, Florida.

Alapaha River Scrublands Irwin County GA Sunset Moss Covered Oak Trees Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is ubiquitous.

Fallen Oak beside Alapaha River Canal Irwin County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

The remains of a weather-damaged oak lie beside the banks of a man-made canal near the river.

Alapaha River Sand Bar Scrublands Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

The Alapaha isn’t widely known beyond the counties it embraces except by a few kayakers and canoeists, yet it courses 202 miles from its headwaters to its confluence with the Suwanee. Its levels are increasingly strained by modern agricultural practices in a region considered to harbor some of the most productive farmland in the state. It’s particularly important to me as it’s where I first went fishing in a boat with my father as a very young boy. I may be foolish to think so, but I believe people who live near the river will always have a strong desire to protect it.

12 thoughts on “Alapaha River Scrublands, Irwin County

  1. Ken

    I hope it’s protected by the land owners by leaving a buffer. Canoed down it from just below Lakeland about 10-12 years ago with my brother, Kyle, and cousin, Owen Williams and his son, Bart, to the Valdosta Homerville hwy. Some of the most unusual topography in state.
    Of course, a recall a large crowd of people going to the sandbar where the Lakeland hwy crosses the river every Sunday afternoon! .

  2. Joy Jones Gregory

    As a child my Mother and Dad would carry supplies with them to cook fish, depending on if fish was caught. The place I remember was near the home of SamSumner ( or could be Summers) seems like it was a small fishing hole. Although I almost drowned there I still have many fond memories of this part of the Alapaha.

  3. Clair Fletcher

    I grew up on my Grandpa Joe Fletcher’s farm. 4 miles west of Irwinville. I still have a cabin less than a half mile from the alapaha. Growing up in the early spring we would seine 2 small lakes in the river. One of the lakes was Duncan Lake, named after my uncle Duncan Fletcher.

    1. Jonell Blitch

      Any Relation to Duncan U Fletcher from Florida, there is a high school in Jacksonville Beach named after him. The Fletcher fighting Senators.

  4. Sara Turner

    I grew up on a farm joining this river, at that time it had a good source of food for our family & many others. I still enjoy going there with our Son & his family. LOVE the pictures.

  5. Victor McGough

    Where exactly in Dooly County does it start? I have looked at some maps and can’t find it. Maybe I just need to look at different maps. As you know, I spent much time in Dooly County as a child and I never knew or heard anything about this river.

    Thank you for all your posts. I always look forward to them.


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