Can you paddle the entire 650 mile Alabama Scenic River Trail? Meet two men who are making the journey

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View from the Alabama Scenic River Trail. Photo courtesy of Alabama Scenic River Trail

Can you paddle the entire 650 mile Alabama Scenic River Trail? That is what Will Denton, 79, and John Denton, 66 started doing earlier this month.

Today, they are on the Coosa River visiting communities in Shelby County.

The Dentons, who are cousins, began their journey at the start of the Alabama Scenic River Trail near the Georgia state line on Sept. 1. They have paddled between 12 and 20 miles each day since, sleeping on the riverbanks or in nearby hotels at night. The duo’s trip will end at Fort Morgan where a bronze sign marks the end of the 650-mile core section of the Alabama Scenic River Trail.

Will and John Denton are paddling the 650 mile Alabama Scenic River Trail. Photo from the Dentons

“Basically, it’s gone really well. The weather could not have been better,” said Will Denton.

“It’s wonderful. You can do this same trip in a boat (motorboat), but you miss an awful lot.” “One day we had just portaged around Weiss dam, and on that day, after we portaged, we saw an eagle, a wild turkey with seven or eight chicks, and a number of fish, eating birds.”

According to the Dentons, they have traveled 150 miles in the first 10 paddling days on the water.

“It’s remarkable for anyone to travel 650 miles by paddle boat, but it’s especially notable that the Dentons are tackling this challenge in their retirement years,” said Jay Grantland, executive director for the Alabama Scenic River Trail. “Their strength of will can be an inspiration to people much younger than them.”

The Alabama Scenic River Trail began 10 years ago with the 650-mile core section of trail the Dentons are paddling. Since then, has since grown to include more than 5,000 miles of waterway, making it the longest river trail in a single state.

Photo courtesy of the Alabama Scenic River Trail

Welcoming the Dentons trek on the Coosa River is the Coosa Riverkeeper‘s Executive Director Justinn Overton.

“It’s so exciting to hear these folks are enjoying their time on the Coosa River as they journey towards its tailwaters in Wetumpka. The Coosa River and her lakes provide recreation for thousands of Alabamians all year long, but not many can say they’ve paddled the entire length of the river!”

Travelers making the journey on the Alabama Scenic River Trail can visit their website to learn where all the campsites and access to the waterways are located. They also have a list of individuals who assist paddlers on the river trail.

Now the big question.  Do you think you could paddle the entire Alabama Scenic River Trail?

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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