Looking for Overnight Trip (TN, GA, AL)

I and a group of friends are looking for about 25-30 miles (maybe less on a slower river, maybe more on a faster river) of float-able river with Class I and Class II water for an overnight kayak trip. We’re looking to spend about 5 hours on the water per day, so distance will depend on typical water flow on the river.

We live in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee, and we’re looking at north Georgia, north Alabama, or south Tennessee so that we can all meet up in the middle.

We’d like to float about half or a little more of the trip the first day, have a spot to camp, and then float the remainder the next morning.

Any suggestions would be most appreciated.

some possibilities
The Sequatchie River is a lovely Class I with 70 canoeable miles. I haven’t done an overnight trip so I’m not sure about the camping possibilities but you could call the Pilkingtons in Dunlap, TN and ask: http://www.sequatchie.com/canoe.htm.

Upper Clear Creek in the Obed/Emory watershed is one of the best, if not the best overnight trips in TN, but it might be a bit farther than you want to travel. The put-in is at US 127 near Crossville TN and you don’t see a bridge or house for the next 20 miles. It can only be run at fairly high water, but it’s running right now (in fact, it is running high, but it will drop). It is Class II with a Class III or multiple Class IIIs near the end, depending on where you take out. Those Class IIIs are easily portaged. One problem is that local rapscallions in the area used to be known to pillage cars parked at take out sites, unfortunately.

Probably even farther than you want to travel is the absolutely magnificent Big South Fork of the Cumberland River, flowing out of KY into TN. The stretch from Leatherwood Ford to Blue Heron is Class I and Class II with two Class IIIs (at normal flow) which are easily protaged. It is a gorge run with limited access sites. Camping possibilities are nearly endless and scenery is magnificent.

The Elk and the Duck Rivers in TN are pastoral Class I runs with quite a few canoeable miles but, again, I don’t know about camping possibilities.

If you want to get some more opinions
you might try posting this on the “getting together and going paddling” forum. This forum is less traveled and more geared toward those interested in fairly remote excursions.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much in TN, GA, or AL that would qualify as wilderness paddling. The closest thing I know of is the Big South Fork or upper Clear Creek.

Here it is!
National Scenic River Trail…longest in the NATION!


Toccoa River

– Last Updated: May-11-09 8:58 AM EST –



I recommend this trip. The river is a beautiful, rugged mountain area. The rapids are fun and not too much. At the large footbridge crossing the river, it's National Forest, and you can see where people camp regularly. The bridge is part of the Benton Mckaye trail if you want to do some hiking as well.
PS, as both websites discuss, please be aware of private landowner issues. The boundaries of private areas and national forest should be clearly marked.
I'll be heading up there soon myself!