Objective: Multi-day paddle in the southern Apps
Unfortunately the Big South Fork doesn't run after May - just the lower 40 miles, which may be nice if there's some rain - I understand there are plenty of day hikes in the park.
The French Broad is promising however the lack of state land and campgrounds makes this an issue. All the locals say that trespassers are not welcome - for good reason I understand.
The TN river, from what I understand, doesn't have any challenges and again finds itself touching many urban areas.
The TN River Blueway looks nice but just not long enough.
I glanced at the Powell River...
Does anyone have any suggestions? The French Broad is probably the most suitable, any camping ideas besides islands - who knows if they are private yet not marked.
Unless there’s been hurricanes or
other sources of big precip, September is not the month.
Your examples are all over the map. I wouldn’t do the French Broad sections 9 and 10 in a canoe full of camping gear, and I’ll hazard I’m more experienced than you. Some of your other examples are tame, would require an entirely different canoe and approach.
If it were me in September, I’d be on a northern river with steady flow, specifically the St. Croix on the Maine/New Brunswick border. Just about all the rapids can be managed in a loaded canoe, with conservative lines. Few bugs by then.
hit the lakes
Fontana in NC. Joccasee in SC. My preference being Fontana. Less humans and steady water.
The Tennessee River is not a river anymore.
Check out the New River in NC and VA
That would be my choice
Start around Jefferson and paddle it into Va.
There are paddle in state parks along the way for camping.
Just check the water level first. Everything seems to be on the real low side right now.
Second, Fontana Lake…
I did a 5-day trip there a few years back and camped in backcountry sites (6 canoe-in sites) in the Great Smokies National Park. Even though it was summer, boat traffic was pretty limited and in September would be almost none. I’m thinking of going in Early October and enjoy the colors.
Regarding Fontanta Lake
Is it a party lake in September? Is there a party “side” so to speak, as in the south side of the lake?
The rivers that I suggested are really not “all over the map” - they’re mostly in TN or NC
Most of the locals said that everything in the French Broad is portage-able. The issue that I see on the French Broad is camping/sleeping.
I’m going to plan a NE paddle next year, right now I’m staying focused on the Southern Appalachians. Thanks for your feedback.
Headwaters Outfitters in Brevard has on river camping for the French Broad. You could at least do an overnighter.
The Green through Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is cool. My wife and I overnighted there once. One of the area outfitters may be able to set you up.
Are you looking for class 2 fun or flatter water?
most if not all
Of the lake is public land. North side is national park. In September, or any time really, lake traffic is limited by the remoteness and size of the lake.
I went in July, and…
I noticed no “party” side or part at all. There were a few, very few, boats waterskiing, but the lake is big enough it didn’t bother me at all. I would think in September that would be non-existent.
Class II or lower
Thanks for your feedback. Remember that our goal is to do 5 nights on the water.
The TN Blueway going through Chattanooga looks like an option however it seems really short.
I meant all over the map in terms of
difficulty. The South Fork and the French Broad, for example, not only have class 3 sections, but have class 2 that can be technical enough (summer water) or wavy enough (higher water) that paddling through in a canoe full of camping gear would be difficult, and at times dangerous.
Other selections, like the “blueway” are tame enough that they really are not river paddling at all.
After 40 years paddling in the SE, I think I can say that finding a river with consistent easy whitewater and camping, for 4+ nights, is going to require an unusual coincidence of water level and paddler preparation. Virginia has some better options, but they are not terrific.
A good suggestion when there is
water. One can start out well above Jefferson in NC and go a ways down into VA. But this has been a rotten, dry year.