Autauga Creek: One of the Cleanest, Most Accessed Urban Streams in Alabama

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An old cotton gin on Autauga Creek in downtown Prattville, Alabama, by a city park and kayak launch [click on the images for a larger view]

Secret Vistas –
By Glynn Wilson –

AUTAUGA CREEK, Ala. – There’s no major white water to contend with on this amazingly accessible urban stream on the coastal plain that runs through Prattville. But for the casual water and nature enthusiast, there may be no cleaner or more enjoyed stretch of water near a city in Alabama.

Most of the waterway access points in the state are far off the beaten path in rural areas. But here, somewhat like the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta, which is used and enjoyed by hordes of urbanites in and around that city of 5 million, more people starved for outdoor entertainment are finding Autauga Creek a secret vista worth finding out about and sharing with good friends.

They say the creek is floatable from Prattville to the Alabama River. But on an excursion Friday with the Alabama Sierra Club’s Bob Hastings, we took in the four mile canoe trail established and maintained with regular creek cleanups by the Autauga Creek Improvement Committee, working with the city.

You can launch your kayak, canoe or raft right behind the police station at Prattville City Hall, and the current will take you down to Canoe Trail Park behind the animal shelter. But watch out for the rocks and trees. There may not be white water, but the trip is not without its challenges and heart thumping treachery, especially when you are sporting a $1500 Nikon.

We made the entire trip high and dry, however, thanks to Hastings’ expert maneuverings.

I was amazed at how clean the creek appeared in such an urban setting.

Dr. Bob Hastings said testing shows that the water quality is good too.

“The whole watershed is pretty well undeveloped,” he said.

Autauga County only claims a population of 54,571, according to the Census of 2010, although it is part of the Montgomery Metropolitan Statistical Area.

But apparently people come from miles around the state’s capital city to enjoy this lovely stretch of water.

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Cathedral Arches is one of the most scenic stretches of Autauga Creek

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Old cypress trees line several stretches of Autauga Creek

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Raymond Summerlin and John Little Traversing the trees along Autauga Creek

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A peaceful stretch of smoother water in the summer green

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Bog Hastings and Sheila DeRamus Wood of the Autauga Creek Improvement Committee take a break by a sandy beach along the four mile canoe trail

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Pink blooms peak out from the summer greens along the way

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Scientist Bob Hastings with the Alabama Sierra Club and the Autauga Creek Improvement Committee

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A bridge on County Road 4 by the Autauga Creek Campground

© 2013, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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