New 20 mile canoe trail coming to the Tennessee Valley

DECATUR Ala. -- A new 20-mile canoe trail will be coming to the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. State Senator Arthur Orr and local officials unveiled the project on Saturday.

The new trail will allow paddlers to view remote sections of the refuge and will offer its first semi-guided tour of the waterway.

"It'll be a huge attraction," Orr said. "The Alabama Scenic River Trail has brought thousands and thousands of tourists from around the world, literally from around the world. So we hope that those tourism increases will now be here in the Tennessee Valley."

The trail will include riverfront campgrounds, marked public access points, and directional signs on the riverbanks.

"Our main goal is to get people outdoors, connect people with nature, and provide access to parts of the refuge for outdoor recreation and activities," said Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge manager, Ricky Ingram.

The Morgan County Rescue Squad will be cleaning out the southern portion of the trail, then discreet mile markers and signage will be installed. The waterway is open now, but the official trail is expected to be complete by December. The project is developed by the Alabama Scenic River Trail, which is funded through the state budget.