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Float your Boat, So to Speak, with Ocmulgee Outdoor Expeditions 

By Hannah Jett Theus

Kathleen O’Neal grew up in Macon and started paddling in high school with her father. Her deep admiration for the Ocmulgee River, however, can be traced back to her law school days at Mercer University when her love with Macon’s iconic waterway began. 


The journey may have led her to a legal career for a number of years, but her purpose led back to the water. Celebrating her seventh year in business as owner of Ocmulgee Outdoor Expeditions, O’Neal’s passion for sharing the water with others is on display now more than ever.  


Before opening her business, she remembered looking at the river and seeing the possibilities of helping people disconnect from the hustle and bustle of their busy lives and reconnect with their souls and with nature.  


With a mantra of “canoes, kayaks and inner peace,” O’Neal has recently expanded her Macon-based river trip offerings with the addition of regional explorations starting from Lloyd’s Shoals and Ga. 83. 



What started as a passion project is now a purpose-led journey. O’Neal believes the experience she and her team provide can lead to further advocacy of the great outdoorsAs a board member of the Altamaha Riverkeeper, “a grassroots organization dedicated to the protection, defense and restoration of Georgia’s biggest river – the Altamaha – including its tributaries the Ocmulgee, the Oconee and the Ohoopee,” according to their website, O’Neal’s dedication to preservation is admirable. 


“Building the community around the Ocmulgee River through our trips pays off,” she said. 


Getting people out on the water helps O’Neal spread her message of taking care of nature. She’s also an advocate for clean water, “for drinking, swimming, canoeing and enjoying. It’s a human right,” O’Neal said.  


Planning a trip with Ocmulgee Outdoor Expeditions is easy and can be totally customized, too. Explorations are set to begin mid-Aprilwith weather permitting, and will go until October. 



This year, two popular events are returning. The “Boats and Brews” experience combines downtown hotspots with a two-hour float. Upcoming dates are: May 17, June 7, July 12 and Aug. 9. Also making its return is the “Full Moon Float” on Aug. 2 after a hiatus last year’s due to an uncooperative moonrise. 


You may get a glass of cold lemonade from Ocmulgee Outdoor Expeditions when you get out of the river, but our guess is that, thanks to O’Neal’s dedication, you’ll leave with so much more. 


For more information and booking, visit 


Want more outdoor adventures? See our latest style story to see how have the perfect picnic. 

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