By Brandon Martin
New boat slips built at Philpott Lake by Henry County were highly prized, with all rented and a waiting list with more than 100 names of those who are interested when a slip becomes available.
“There have been a bunch of new people visiting the area and a lot of them that used to go to surrounding lakes and rivers are now coming here because they enjoyed their time so much,” Henry County Parks and Recreation Director Roger Adams said.
Philpott Lake has seen a huge increase in visits this summer, he said, adding that the lake’s natural beauty and clear water are among the many reasons people are hitting the water.
Part of the attraction also is among recreational boaters and fishers who have been testing the new boat slips. After adding 16 new slips last winter, the marina now includes 58 boat slips that are available for rental on an annual basis.
Adams said the rental period lasts from March to February each year and all rental requests must be received by March 1.
Adams said the new slips were rented immediately, and currently there is a waiting list of 120 names for the next opening.
He also noted that getting to the boat docks is easier now, because some of the slope was decreased leading down from the trail.
In addition to the boat slips, Adams said that group campground has been a hit among visitors too. He said the 10 spaces available in the campground are reserved “fairly quickly.”
He added that each space has its own connection for water, electricity and sewer.
Adams said campground space must be reserved six months ahead of time for stays of five days or less. For stays of more than five days, space must be reserved a year in advance.
The Smith River Blueway also has been popular this summer, Adams said.
The Blueway is a scenic riverway with 10 access points and more than 20 miles of greenway.
“We’ve seen a lot more folks using the new access points to canoe or kayak down the Smith River,” Adams said.
The extension to the Dick and Willie Passage is always busy, according to Adams who touted plans to connect the extension with the existing main trail to encompass about 11 miles, when completed.
While the process of planning and executing the trail connection remains underway, Adams said “A lot of people travel to bike a lot. When you can go and bike 22 miles, it’s a lot more attractive. If you’re going to travel just to bike, you certainly want to get your money’s worth for the trip.”
“We’ve had a really good summer” so far, Adams said of a trend he believes will continue due to the wide array of activities, and the likelihood that local amenities will appeal to many.