Any good rivers in the south???

The water will sound be icy and/or frozen in Wisconsin. I am looking for winter river trip ideas in Southern sates. The ideal river(s) would have rapids up to CL III and the possibility for canoe camping. Any sugestions would be appreciated.


If I had a chance…
I would go to the Chatooga River in a second! It is located in South Carolina and Georgia.I have never been, but everything that I have seen and read about it sounds great. Another suggestion is the Buffalo River in Arkansas. There will be plenty of people chimming in on this one, I’m sure. Stay tuned!


Chatooga river?
Tks RollingStone

Did the Bufalo last winter from Ponca down at hight H2O. It was GREAT would not mind do it again. I was wondering if there is a paddling book on the Chatooga.

BSF an option…
Big South Fork of the Cumberland is an option in KY/TN. It’s on my list to camp this year.

The Chattooga is not easy for camping
unless you spot your gear ahead at campsites. Section 2 is relatively easy but scrapey unless the 76 bridge gauge is 2.5 or over. Section 3 has numerous rapids difficult to handle with a boat full of camping gear, or even without. Section 4 is really out of the question except for minimalist kayak campers.

The Buffalo in Arkansas may be as scenic as the Chattooga, but really cannot be compared in difficulty. Unless you get up in the absolute headwaters, it is a class 1 or easy class 2 stream at most. This makes it very good for canoe camping. However, it is low and dry this time of year. (Rita mostly missed it.)

I recommend checking the “More Links” at the left of this page for a list of 40 great canoe camping runs across the country, many with some reasonable whitewater. The Chattooga gets too much attention from whitewater people, and doesn’t need any from misguided canoe campers.

Southern Rivers
I’m assuming if you are canoe camping then you don’t want any real “hair” runs. Some of the rivers I’ve paddled that might fill the bill:


Greenbrier in the Fort Spring/ Alderson/ Talcott area if there is enough water.

New below Sandstone Falls all the way to Canard (Meadow Creek/McCreery/Thurmond area) Runnable year-round


James in the Eagle Rock/Balcony Falls/Snowdon area. Seasonable, although pretty much runnable most of the time.

Anywhere on the New above or below Claytor Lake. Runnable year-round


Elkhorn Creek from confluence of North and South Forks to KY River (seasonable)


Emory-Obed system including Clear Creek and Crab Orchard Creek. (seasonable) A few rapids might be tough with a loaded canoe.

French Broad (can be run most of the year, may want to sneak Frank Bell’s Rapid with a loaded canoe)

Big South Fork (I’ve run it several times in the spring but haven’t seen it at low water. Might be a little dicey with a loaded canoe at higher levels)


I’ve never paddled the Nantahala but it has the reputation of being forgiving to novice paddlers, so should be easy with a loaded canoe.

French Broad
Check out the French Broad TN.

link to Alabama whitwater with descriptions etc…(Sorted by class).

Nantahala is only 8 miles long
and there are camping restrictions, unless you use a commercial site. I would not bother loading a boat; better to car-camp and just run the Nanty empty.

The Tuckaseigee and the Little Tennessee have the length, and only a few tough spots, but the Tuck has few public camping sites, and the Little T does not have that many.

I think there’s one
It’s called something like the Mississ…Mississitti? Mississiddi? I don’t know. I don’t think its that well known.

Seriously, though, there was an article in last month’s Sea Kayaker on paddling southern rivers. I might still have it around my house. I’ll see if I can scan it or fax it to you.