People have long loved getting outside in Dahlonega, but this year, the city took a step towards making its outdoor recreation more accessible to all. An accessible kayak launch opened on Yahoola Creek Reservoir in Wimpy Mill Park earlier this year. The new launch area allows people of all physical abilities to get into their kayak and out on the water.
“Dahlonega is well known for its many outdoor recreational experiences, and water activities are no exception. Both locals and tourists enjoy kayaking on the Chestatee River, Lake Zwerner and Yahoola Creek,” said Ariel Alexander, Dahlonega’s Main Street and Downtown Development Authority marketing manager. “It was only natural that the city provides a convenient location to extend enjoyment further upstream.”
The launch site was previously drying beds for the city water treatment plant. When a new plant was built, the land sat unused for multiple years, Alexander said. “Now, it is used daily by residents and visitors alike,” she said.
The kayak launch helps people who may have mobility issues or physical disabilities get into their boat and onto the water. It provides supports that can help with stability when getting into a kayak.
This isn’t the first time Dahlonega has worked to make its outdoor facilities accessible to all. In 2019, the city opened the Gold Adventure All-Abilities Playground at Hancock Park. The playground has traditional equipment like swings and climbing equipment that are made accessible to children of all physical abilities and ages, Alexander said.
Both the kayak launch and the playground were developed with input from ConnectAbility, a local non-profit dedicated to creating accessible opportunities for people of all abilities.
These facilities aren’t only an investment in making accessible recreation facilities for all residents, but an investment in the city’s future. Dahlonega’s parks and trails master plan has been recognized with a national award, the NADO Impact Award, for its diversity of services and programs. Future plans for Dahlonega’s parks include extended nature walk trails that connect parks together, a waterfront boardwalk and a fishing pier.
“As a tourist destination, we hope to create attractions and recreational activities in our city that everyone may enjoy for generations to come,” Alexander said.
This article was originally featured in the September/October 2021 edition of Georgia’s Cities Magazine.