Canoeing at Lake Guntersville State Park

My family and I are planning to take a trip to Lake Guntersville State Park the first week of Feb. Can someone tell me if canoeing at this time of the year at the park is crazy and if not some suggestions as to where to paddle (put in sites) etc would be greatly appreciated.

Short Creek Hwy 227
Town Creek, also Hwy 227 just PAST the turnoff to the Park lodge…

South Sauty Creek, Other

– Last Updated: Jan-24-08 8:54 PM EST –

I enjoyed paddling South Sauty Creek, specifically the Morgan Cove area. The Morgan Cove boat ramp can be accessed off of AL Highway 227 roughly halfway between Lake Guntersville State Park and Buck's Pocket State Park. It's probably about a 15 or 20 minute car ride farther up Highway 227 from either Short or Town Creek. Also, there are some beautiful painted bluffs just below the Guntersville Dam on the Tennessee River and a quiet little creek called Shoal Creek.

Lake Guntersville Area Destination Report:

Summer Photos from South Sauty Creek:

Summer Photos from Town Creek:

Autumn Photos from Town Creek:

Spring Photos from Short Creek:

Autumn Photos from Short Creek:

Autumn Photos from Shoal Creek/Tennessee River:

Water temps about 45 degrees
You can survive about 1 to 3 hours in those temps but exhaustion or unconsciousness can happen in as little as 30 minutes. If you can swim 1 mph, that means you need to be no more than a half mile from shore.

Is the family comfortable with the canoe? Are they all good swimmers? Will you be ready for the swim?


Read this recent thread…
of a group outing on Lake Guntersville. Keep in mind that the weather discussed was colder than what is typical for this time of year.

Lake Guntersville Trip
Thanks for the info. I have a brand new 16ft Old Town Stillwater Canoe and I’ll probably be paddling with my 10 year old son at Town creek or Short Creek during our stay at the park Feb 3-6. Although, both creeks look safe enough, which would you view as the safest for me and my son to try??

Depends on you…

– Last Updated: Jan-25-08 3:45 PM EST –

Short creek is just that; shorter than Town Creek...Town is about 5 miles one way...

Distance makes no difference if you dump and drown in the first 100 yards...

Brand New 16 this a replacement boat for a canoe worn out, or the first canoe you have ever owned? Do you know how to paddle a canoe, or just think you can because it looks easy?

Ask yourself this question...if the boat goes over, can your 10 year old swim, and is he wearing a personal flotation device?

The water is will hamper swimming and unless you hang close to the bank the long smim to shore from the middle may not be possible...

don't forget to carry dry clothes with you just in case....

(Now if you are a seasoned Canoer, please don't be mad...we get newbies in here all the time...err on the side of caution if you are new, and if you are a pro, careful anyway...have a good time!)

If he drowns in the first 100 yards

…who gets the canoe?

Lake Guntersville Trip
This is our first canoe but not the first time I’ve ever been in a canoe. My son and I have made several trips so far on calm bayous in southern Louisiana and have never had an ounce of problem. However, I wouldn’t call myself a pro as I’m still learning all the various canoe strokes. As far as safety, we do carry dry clothes, wear PDF’s all the time, both are good swimmers and hug the coastline when paddling. If you feel that Short Creek or Town Creek is too dangerous for someone still trying to perfect their strokes let me know.

given your estimate of experience and skill, and propensity for hugging the shore, either of these are safe…I suggest beginning on Short Creek, and moving over to Town the next day…it’s all flat lake paddling, the “Creek” designation describes the source, but the backwater of the Tennessee River widens them to near lake proportions at the mouth of the river and the creeks…then they narrow as they head inland…

Lots of wildlife, and keep your eyes open for the Bald Eagle populations, they nest in Guntersville state park during the winter…

Sounds like you have common sense
but not a ton of experience. I am in the same proverbial boat (just got a kayak last year).

The creeks aren’t gonna surprise you with anything, so there’s nothing inherently dangerous about them or the main channel for that matter. In the creeks you might run into a bass boat or two on the weekend, on the main channel you might see a barge go by. Nothing a big stable canoe can’t deal with.

I would recommend posting a message on the “Getting Together & Going Paddling” board here and seeing if others are interested in going along with you. The old safety in numbers thing. And there are quite a few around these parts that frequent Guntersville anyway. Just make sure they know you’re planning a leisurely trip – otherwise, the kayakers will assume it’s a race. :wink:

If you go it alone, take a cell phone, file a float plan, and hug the shore fairly close. Take the spare clothes, spare paddle (and the boy has his own paddle right?), extra food and water, and PFDs are a must for you guys. Dumping in the cold water will be an instant shock and it could really take a couple of minutes to regain your senses. And there’s no way you’ll be able to blame the creek or the boat if something happens – this is about whether or not you have the skills to stay safe and dry.

With the new boat, a little experience, and a young kid, you just gotta be very cautious.

Do Town Creek, the put in is here:


Short Creek, South Sauty Creek

– Last Updated: Jan-25-08 5:44 PM EST –

Of either Short or Town, Short is your best bet from a safety standpoint....Town is nice but a bit wider and tends to have more boat traffic even up near the upper end. Looking up Short Creek, the ramp is on the left side of the creek with a large slough separating it from the main body of the creek. It's a pretty busy ramp and is used primarily by fishermen in powerboats. For the most part the fishermen go downstream from this point. Once you get across that slough by the ramp (it's several hundred yards across) you can hug the left bank and be fairly safe. If you want to do another wide crossing you can go ahead and move to the right bank and be even safer for the longer haul. The left bank tends to be rocky and steep while the right bank is a little friendlier, even having a few sandbars where you can make an easy exit and relaunch for a snack or stretch. After about a mile or so the creek makes a hard jog to the right and narrows considerably. I've never seen any powerboats beyond this point. There are several sandbars an even a good sized island here. You can go for roughly another mile beyond the island before reaching the end of the creek...well, not actually the end just as far as a canoe or kayak can maneuver. The upper stretches of the creek on top of Sand Mountain are whitewater boat territory.

I mentioned it in an earlier post but South Sauty Creek is another option and it's only a short drive from either Town or Short. Using the Morgan Cove boat ramp off of Highway 227 and going upstream the creek narrows almost immediately to the point it is unlikely you'll encouter any boat traffic. There's a primitive camping area on the right bank as you go upstream which makes for a good place to stop if you need to. It's only a mile or maybe a mile and a half before you'll start encountering obstructions but it's very scenic. You can portage a few of the obstructions and get maybe another 1/8 mile upstream before it becomes completely impassable.

South Louisiana
What part of South Louisiana?

Are you familiar with these clubs?

Lake Guntersville Trip
I just joined Bayou Haystackers last week and am looking forward to going on many of their trips.

Guys thanks a lot for all of the great info about Lake Guntersville. This site is a gold mine for people like me needing some help. If any of you see a red Old town canoe with a kid in front that will be me and say hello. My name, as you may have guessed, is Mark and we’re from Slidell, La trying to avoid the Mardi Gras parades.

Thanks again


Howdy Neighbor!

I live just an hour or so east of you over in Jackson County, MS. My wife is from the Guntersville area so I make several trip a year up there and bring my boat as often as I can. I also belog to the 'Haystackers although I’ve only made one trip with them so far…a 2 day trip last May on the Escatawpa River on the AL/MS line. Good luck on your Guntersville trip…if the weather is decent it should be quite enjoyable.


Let me revise my statement
You have a lot of common sense (avoiding MG parade).


Places to Eat?
If I can bother you one last time. Other then the one in the State Park, can you recommend any good restaurants in the Guntersville area? One that we can take our kids (ages 2 - 14) to.