The women of Gees Bend were “discovered” by the outside world in the 1970s, making quilts with an almost impossible parallel to the American expressionist painting movement from which they lived physically and culturally worlds apart. To get close to the area with a kayak or canoe, consider staying at Roland Cooper State Park or the US Army Corps of Engineers parks at Millers Ferry or Chilatchee Creek for a full-service experience. The whole region provides a look into the wilder side of Alabama’s Black Belt along the Alabama River. Camping at Chilatchee Creek offers nice campgrounds and put-ins.
If a taste of wild is more to your liking, try US Army Corps of Engineers Elm Bluff Park. The closest place to use as base camp is right by the north ferry terminal at Gees Bend Park. Lots of shore birds and some alligators share the water with you.
It is a short walk from here to the ferry terminal (the nearby Gees Bend Ferry will transport your paddle boat, or your car, or just you). You will want to visit the terminals at some point because of the visitor center displays. The quilters work in the North Terminal on many days. The ferry runs eight times a day the year around.
Trail length: 11.7 miles