Multi-day trips in the Appalachian.

My friend and I are getting ready for our second annual paddle.

We’ve both agreed that we’re going to use my canoe, and not try to hit anything above Class II.

Can you suggest any week-long water trails between Virginia and Tennessee or North Carolina… I’d prefer to stay in TN or NC because I will be driving up from the Florida Keys.

Thanks, ScubaCanoe

James River in VA, or possibly the
New River in NC and VA if there is enough water. In Georgia, I personally don’t think the piedmont and mountain streams offer so many nights of paddling, but downstate on the coastal plane you have the Ocmulgee-Altamaha and perhaps the Ogeechee. The Edisto in SC is good.

you could
Paddle Fontana lake in NC. Not river, but beautiful.

Ryan L.

I second the New River and the Edistoe
the New has clear mountain water and the Edistoe is basically a Black Water River.

I don’t know if you could get a full week long trip on the New, but there are state parks along the route with paddle in camp sites.

Start your trip at Zallos in West Jefferson.

Contact them for more info, and shuttles.

the Edistoe also has state parks along it’s route.

Jack L

class 2
Do you know if those rivers have rapids? I can’t imagine Edisto having any rapids, but that is only from my experience living in Charleston.

Thanks for the idea
Sounds peaceful.

The New has rapids, but they are
trains of little ledgy class 1 and low class 2 things made of layers of the core of the Blue Ridge formation pointing straight up. It is actually easier to paddle and camp on the New at somewhat more generous levels, maybe 600 cfs or more on the Jefferson gage. For camping, use the state and national park sections downstream of the gauge. The upper sections are great, but finding a campsite is not easy.

The New has a number of low bridges. Some can be snuck, others must be portaged. You have to be good at judging in advance and, for portage, quicly finding a landing spot.

The only rapid that I know of on the…
Edistoe is right in Orangerburg, and it is no more than a fun wave train which if you don’t want to enjoy, you can skirt on the right side.

The New has easy rapids, but if you are a newbie with no experience you could take a swim here and there.

Every year in the race there we see some of the newer people taking a swim, but there is no danger, unless the river is flowing high.

Jack L

Greenbrier River WV
Numerous sections, most suitable for riverside camping, but check the AWA guage site for levels. River tends to rise and fall with precipitation. Shuttles can be arranged via the Greenbrier River Campground.


the Hiwassee River
from Reliance to Calhoun,TN is about 28 miles and is a Tennessee Wild and Scenic River. You could paddle from the Apalachia Power House (5 miles upstream from Reliance)without camping gear for some class II-III fun. Load your boats at the Forest Service put-in and paddle downstream. There are FS campgrounds at Quinn Springs and a State Park at Gee Creek. There is a boat ramp at US 441 at Calhoun, or you could add some miles by paddling on down to the confluence with the Ocoee (six miles) or go another 16 miles to Chickamauga Reservoir. The Hiwassee is dam controlled.

Clear Creek and the Big South Fork
Upper Clear Creek in east Tennessee is a great overnight spring run. It is a tributary of the Obed River which is itself a tributary of the Emory River. You would be hard pressed to do more than a couple of days on it and it does require a fair bit of water to be runnable. It has quite a few Class IIs and one rapid just above Barnett bridge which can run Class III but is easily portaged. Put in where Route 27 crosses Clear Creek north of Crossville TN. You won’t see another bridge or road for 20 miles. The trip can be extended a bit by running down to Jett bridge. You could even go down to Lily bridge, but you could run into some Class III action between Jett and Lily. You don’t want to go past Lily bridge. Upper Clear Creek probably won’t have enough flow past spring most years unless there is heavy rainfall.

If you wanted to do a few more days overnight trips can be done on the Duck River, Buffalo River, and Elk River in central TN. These are Class I for the most part.

Another spectacular overnighter which can easily be stretched into 3 or 4 days is the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Put in at Leatherwood Ford where the river flows north from TN into southern KY. The stretch between Leatherwood and Blue Heron has 2 Class IIIs at normal flow, but they are easily portaged. There is a good bit of Class II action. The Gorge that the Big South Fork flows through is quite spectacular. This stretch is not to be confused with the Big South Fork Gorge whitewater run which is Class III-IV and ends at Leatherwood.