First-timer, need advice for canoe trip

-- Last Updated: Jan-07-04 1:47 PM EST --

I want to take a 3-4 day canoe trip downriver with 3 of my friends from somewhere up north to down where I live in Knoxville, Tennessee. I just need to know the essentials I would have to get, and what routes I could take. I want the routes to be far enough from civilazation that it will be roughing it out. Any info is appreciated; even if I didn't mention it. Also, I need web sites to visit where I can get things cheap. Thanks!

Canoe Trip
I need a little bit more info. Pardon my ignorance, but is there a river in Knoxville? If so, what is the name of it…and where does it start?

(Does it go to Aintree?)

Do you have a canoe? Have you or your pals ever paddled before? Do you won a PFD?

You might try checking with the Tenn Tourism people. I’m sure they have a list of outfitters where you could get some first-hand, accurate local informantion.

And remember, when canoeing, the pointy end goes first.

Canoeing in Tennesse
You should find the book, “Canoeing in Tennesse” by Holly Sherwin. You can probably find it at your library or at

Also, take a look here

your ignorance is fine my is much more
We have the Tennessee River and it goes way up I think. I don’t know if it goes to Aintree or where that is but it’s possible. I can get two canoes I think from some other friends, but I’m not sure. If I couldn’t can I rent some; how much?

Thanks for your answers.

Several ways to do this…
Hi! From your profile, I can’t tell if you have camping experience or time on the water in other craft. Do your friends have experience?

One of your options is to pay a guide to take you on a trip. This requires money, but less prep and allows for less skill.

Another option is to forego the ‘wild country’ experience for now and find a river or lake where you can rent canoes from an outfitter and go from campsite to campsite.

Another option is to get involved with a local club or college program or paddleshop to learn basic canoeing/camping skills. This will help make the trip more enjoyable. Start out with day trips and overnights and work up to your extended trip. I’m not trying to be a wet blanket, but would like you to be more encouraged than discouraged. And there is a reasonable risk aspect. And you probably want to remain friends with your buds.

Meanwhile, buy a gazeteer for Tennesee and find out what rivers have acesses and camping. It takes time and research to plan a trip, but that’s part of the fun. There are some books that will give a description of rivers. I make extensive use of Google to get started. There are basic gear lists for safe canoeing. There are a number of good books. Spend some time at the library or bookstore reading. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to learn.

There are a number of ways to hold costs down on equipment and clothing. You will need 2 canoes for 4 guys with gear. We bought a used canoe from local people. The classified ads on this site have some good items. Paddling shops and paddlefests are good places to look. I buy poly clothing from secondhand shops and department stores. We just bought a tent at less than 1/2 price from a local sporting goods store.

Your question is a big one. I hope I gave you some ideas to get you started.

Discount Gear
Pamskee had good ideas on saving money, here’s a few more. I buy a lot of my gear from Sportsman’s Guide. Many name brand close out items. As far as “Aintree” goes, I think that was a joke referring to that town in the movie “Deliverance.” It’s a place where the locals might make you “Squeal like a pig!” WW

This river…
Aintree! This river don’t go to Aintree! You’re lost boy!

Just taking a guess, but from what I’ve seen you post on this thread, you don’t have canoes, paddles, pfds, tents, sleeping bags or any of the gear you would need to gear up for a 3 to 4 day canoe trip(down a river you obviously do not know) with 3 or 4 people. If you try to buy all this gear, even second hand gear, I think you’re talking about a thousand dollars just to get started. If you get out in the middle of nowhere & someone gets seriously injured, do you have the skills to take care of them, and get them out? Do they have any canoeing skills?

Why don’t you make an effort to find some canoe rental places along the Tennessee river?

They would probably provide paddles & pfds with the canoes. Instead of doing 3 to 4 nights on a river you don’t know, with 3 or 4 other people whose skills may be no better than yours, consider doing a couple of days floats. Canoe rental place takes you to the put in point, and transports your vehicles to the take out. Instead of doing several overnights on the river; use a campground that is near the river for your overnights.

To put it simply, I am suggesting that you “ease into it” rather than jump in over your head. In the end, everybody may be a lot safer & happier. Not trying to discourage you; just suggesting you may be trying to do too much, too quick.

Then again, what the hell do I know; I only led groups canoeing for 18 years.


you get paddling skills first,then practice before taking on a 3-4 day trip. Not trying to be mean or rude. I am expeienced at camping, especially hiking and kayaking trips. We had a new person on the last kayak trip. Never been kayaking on a river before ,little kayak experience otherwise. Ended up dumping 2 or 3 times on the trip. Cool conditions and wasn’t very comfortable the rest of the trip.

With Apologies
Yes, the “Aintree” crack was a smart-aleckly remark alluding to “Deliverence.” I’m sorry. You are obviously a person who wants to enjoy what the river has to offer. The other posters are 100% correct in their suggustions. Walk before you run. Chances are you and your pals could pull a Huck Finn and make the trip on a log raft, but there are genuine risks involved. Failure is an option and death is a real consequence.

The most important thing to pack for a canoe/camping trip goes between your ears. To paraphrase a pilots expression: “There are old paddlers and there are bold paddlers…but there are no old, bold paddlers.”

i do have some stuff

I have 2 canoes, and paddles. As far the brains to help in tight situations we’re bringing along someone who’s been in and out of the army. I think he’ll do the job when it comes to survival and wits. Tents, sleeping bags, ect. are covered; so I think I’ve got most of it covered except for alot of conoeing experience. Thanks for your help.

The river
you have chosen, is it in fact navigable?

Go for it & don’t let all these experts convince you it’s too dangerous. Canoeing & camping isn’t exactly rocket science. I started camping before I was in my teens & was camping from boats as soon as I could drive & haul one to the river. Surely if I could manage to camp & survive at 12 the average fellow with one eye & half sense could pull it off. Too many damn experts here not willing to give anyone credit for having enough sense to think or judge for themselves what they can handle.

People are being very kind and gentle about this… but, the way you phrased your question indicates a lack of experience in just about everything… hard to advise somebody on how to not get killed.

Perhaps a reword might have gotten you some better results - now that we know you have some experience outdoors and will be with an expert (so to speak).

I would guess that you are looking for some information regarding canoeing specific advise and maybe a good route.

As far as the route is concerned, dont know that area.

As far as essential gear.

Dry bags and tie downs - seperate you gear and pack in multiple smaller bags, this will allow you move it around better when loading the canoe. Be sure to secure everything in the boat, otherwise in tip you could lose some pretty important stuff.

Be sure to pack an emergency prepardness kit (1st aid, matches, knife, radio, etc…) and keep that stowed nearby and dry.

Socks! lots and lots of socks!! nothing worse than cold, wet, pickled feet on a chilly evening.

Also, spare paddles, strapped within a hands grasp (just in case).

Dont forget a bailing device and a good sponge, that way you can clean out the water inside on a stop, rather than waiting til the end of the day when you unload.

I would also suggest getting a couple of good books on canoeing and doing a little reading… most will advise you better.

Good luck, have fun and Happy Paddling



well said shooter
To many don’t paddle w/ essentials. Have seen too many people drunk and unprepared on lakes and rivers. Granted most are more levelheaded but still don’t understand the risks. Personally I have works on the water in a safety role.


– Last Updated: Jan-09-04 12:03 AM EST –

Have you ever paddled the Tennessee? What class water is it in the section these people are going to paddle? What hazards are they likely to encounter between the put in & the take out in these sections? If the guy with the Army experience is the "go to" guy in any emergency, what happens if he's the one with a broken neck?
This is probably unlikely, but it is a possibility.
I see by your profile that you rate yourself as a beginner,and paddle a kayak on slow rivers, flat water & lakes. Is the section these people will paddle slow, flat water. Will it be slow, flat water after a heavy rain? Go for it is "not" the answer to every question, every situation, or every river. If you're "really" into that "go for it" mentality, I've got a great river for you to try out. Load up your kayak, and drive up to the Dalton area; give section IV of the Chattooga a try. "Go for it"!
Post some photos for us.

Been there; done it!

I would think the Clinch River might provide a suitable float. I only paddled it a couple of times during the USCA Invitational canoe race at the 1982 World’s Fair, but what I saw driving along it shouldn’t be a problem for even novice canoers. Finding riverside camping spots might be an issue though. Hopefully some Knoxville area paddlers might provide comment.

Bob, your comment about “going for it” on section 4 of the Chattooga made me smile. The first time I floated it in '81 I had no idea what I was in for but somehow managed to get through without a swim. 23 years later and looking back it was probably a stupid thing to do. Maybe a higher power watches out for fools.

I Went for it & blew it.
Bob, I’m not about to hit class iv rivers in my little rec yak because I’m not equipped or experienced enough to do so nor do I have any desire to. But please give me credit for having enough sense to realize that.

I do know my local rivers & I don’t hesitate to load up & hit the most remote areas I can find & even do it alone at times. I just get tired of seeing this time after time here. A newcomer ask a few simple questions & most are treated as if they are complete idiots. I’ve learned a lot from reading here at P-net but one of the first things I learned was that unless you have a thick hide don’t ask a question. It seems to me that more often than not, the real questions are not answered & post just turns into a bunch a folks trying to impress someone. All of us don’t want to run white water or tour the coast and many of you have no interest in easing around in blackwater swamps with the gators & skeeters as I do looking for places to fish. But these differences don’t mean we can’t provide some useful advice to others getting started.

I’m as guilty as others in this case I offered the poster nothing & obviouly offended others by shooting off without anything worthwhile to add.

I just prefer to encourage people to try new experiences & challenge themselves a little rather than discourage & try to scare them off.

Unfortunate attitude
It is unfortunate that some folks think that one needs a tough hide to post a question on this site. Hopefully, this site will promote the sport and be helpful.

Beginners don’t know how much they don’t know. Hopefully, we give some reasonable suggestions and they respond so we can zero in on their specifics. I think we are all somewhere on the learning curve and can help each other along the way. I’m glad we have instructors and guides on this site who state the facts plainly. I think it is to our benefit to be good ambassadors for the sport.

Enjoy and paddle safe!

my tongue here. Or biting my typers…?

I’m trying to NOT mention a particular essential that is a big piece of a thread in another forum currently…

no one is

– Last Updated: Jan-11-04 11:05 AM EST –

trying to insult ya. Some folks get carried away with the topic. Don't take what some type the wrong way. I think everyone is trying to be helpful. Some times I am a smart a** too , but still want to be helpful. Personally I won't take on a new challenge unless I have my good,trustworthy friends along to back me up. I trust em with my life and sometimes it could come down to that. Paddle safe.