Kayak, canoe outfitters serve final leg of Bartram Canoe Trail

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 12, 2007

The gateway to the Mobile-Tensaw Delta is now truly open at 5 Rivers &8212; Alabama&8217;s Delta Resource Center.

With the recent opening of Five Rivers Outfitters at the center&8217;s Bartram Landing, easy access to the lush flora and fauna of one of the most prized delta systems in the nation became a reality.

The landing, the terminus of the Bartram Canoe Trail, is open to canoeists and kayakers from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day of the week, while Five Rivers Outfitters will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

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Five Rivers Outfitters will offer a rental operation for canoes and kayaks, both single and tandem, for half-day and full-day trips. Guided trips are also available with the same time frames. A retail store is open with kayaks, canoes and accessories like dry bags, camera bags, paddles and life jackets for sale.

Andrews said intermediate and experienced paddlers only need a little guidance before heading out into the Delta

&8220;We can give the more experienced paddlers all the information they need at the dock,&8221; he said. &8220;We just give them information on route and what the local conditions are that day, like the tide.&8221;

Andrews said for beginners he recommends the kayak because it&8217;s usually the easiest to master.

Andrews said the main misconception is that some people think that is if they turn over, they&8217;ll be trapped inside the boat.

With surging gas prices and other costs, Andrews says the sport of paddling is becoming ever more popular.

&8220;Also, these kayaks and canoes can take you to places where the power boats can&8217;t go, where it&8217;s too shallow or the water volume is too low. Kayaks and canoes only draw a few inches of water. In fact, our favorite places to go are where the power boats can&8217;t go. One thing about power boats is they are definitely going faster than we are, but they don&8217;t see what we see. When you&8217;re in a power boat, you&8217;re focused on where you&8217;re going, mainly straight ahead and the main thing you hear is the noise of the motor. Paddlers can look all around and you&8217;re in a quiet environment. When you&8217;re going slow and quiet, you&8217;re going to see a whole lot more in a shorter period of time.&8221;

The escape aspect of paddling also is very alluring to visitors, according to Andrews.

There is no fee to use the ramp at Bartram Landing, but it is limited to canoes and kayaks only.

David Rainer is with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.