After finishing my run on a glorious autumn morning, the track and field team from the local university arrived to take their turn, training along the Augusta Canal.
Dug in the 1840's and expanded in the 1870's by Irish and Chinese immigrant labor, this waterway made Augusta one of the few industrial centers in the Antebellum South. (It was the Confederacy's only source for gunpowder.) Today the forest has grown back up between the canal and the Savannah River.
This region is the fall line--rapids make the river unnavigable north of here. It's also the convergence zone between the deciduous forests of the Appalachian mountains and the almost subtropical vegetation of the coastal low country; I love the unlikely combination of Spanish moss and fall foliage.
You can even spot the occasional alligator in these waters--the northernmost limit of their habitat. Kayakers row unmolested, but signs encourage people to keep their dogs (think snack-sized chihuahuas and toy poodles) on a leash..
From these headwaters, it's a tranquil five-mile run down into the second oldest city in Georgia; for the entire length of the trail, you have the rushing waters of the Savannah River and the hilly banks of South Carolina on your left, and the tranquil canal on your right.