Newbie in Central Alabama


I’ve wanted to take my family out on canoe or kayak for a while now. I’d like to find an easy section of creek in the area (Cahaba or Choccollocca) to try paddling. My ideal set up would be my wife and I in a canoe or double kayak and my teen daughters in individual kayaks. My wife would strictly be a passenger because of some medical issues so I’d like to find an easy run that could be done in a few hours. Somewhere where there would be a decent flow but not be any portages. Just something relaxing for my family to enjoy a half day out. If any of you know of such a section in Central Bama please let me know. I have a GPS, so “put in, take out” spot coordinates would also be appreciated so I could check it out in advance. Thanks.

Why not make the first trip on a lake? Launch and take-out at the same place, that way you can control how long you spend on the water. If you are newbies and you want to keep it to a half-day, the mere process of packing, loading, driving, unloading and launching is going to take up most of that time, the first time you do it.

Also, do you already own boats, or know of a place to rent/borrow them?

Watch for posts by "autiger."
An Auburn alum, I believe. He posts more on the Paddlers Place Discussion Forum, usually to share some pictures of his Alabama exploits. He might have some suggestions.

You may or may not be aware of the John Foshee “Alabama Canoe Rides and Float Trips.” It was written rather long ago, but does provide good coverage of rivers such as the Cahaba and Tallapoosa.

You can scan There are a few trips easy enough to consider. Look for the “guide” portion of the front page.

The Bear River in NW Alabama is said to be pretty easy, has outfitting. If you get to south Alabama, the Wolf River has an active outfitter and that river is fairly easy. We have done Black Creek in the near side of Mississipi which is cypress flatwater and has two good outfitters.


We did use some kayaks on Guntersville lake last summer. My wife and I were in a borrowed tandem kayak. Fell in love with it and the little singles. That was fun, but like I mentioned earlier, my wife is not able to paddle for long periods. She can manage steering, so that I why I’d like some easy flowing water (small river or creek) so we could just basically let the flow carry us. (Let the water take some of the load off me too.) Back 25 years ago we did go on guided raft trips in the Smoky Mtns. That was when body parts still were in prime condition. :slight_smile: My daughters have done the same back about 4 years ago, so I quess we aren’t exactly “newbie-newbies”.

As far as the boats, we don’t own any, but I have friends I could borrow them from. Canoes and kayaks.

Thanks too

Thanks for that info. I will check out the links and the book if I can find it.

I live in central Alabama
I paddle 4-6x per week at Oak Mountain State Park. There are 3 lakes there, each takes about an hour to paddle the perimeter at pretty much full speed - longer if not doing it for exercise.

I’m in North Alabama
and though it may be a bit of a drive for you, Bear Creek near Hackleburg is a nice easy creek with only a couple of class II rapids and it has water all summer long from the dam release.

A longer drive will get you to the Elk River in TN which is a very easy float – no rapids at all.

The Locust and Mulberry are probably a bit much for a family outing as they have much more whitewater and you probably want a helmet for those the first time through – and a guide.

The alabamawhitewater page:

has a bunch of floats, but as you can see on the flow page:

many of them are way too low at the moment.


Google Terrapin Creek

Paddling Alabama
There’s another more recently published book called “Paddling Alabama” that has 29 trips all over the state. I picked this book up at a local Books-a-million for about $16. All of the trips are geared for half-day to full-day trips. No overnighters. It should give you plenty of ideas. I’m not sure where in central Alabama you are but the Coosa River stretch below the Jordan Dam is very family friendly. The rapids are not bad at all and the big rapid, Moccasin’s Gap can easily be portaged over the bolder in the center of the river. There are two outfitters that I’ve used for the river. There websites are and

Thank you others for the additional replies. Been studying the links and have them all bookmarked. I know this state is “eat up” with paddling opportunities. :slight_smile:

BTW, I was checking out the AlabamaWhitwater BB. Lots of info there in archives, but man, some of those folks get into Hellacious fusses there. INTERESTING reading. :slight_smile:

Oh, BTW, I live near Logan Marin lake outside of Pell City.

I live in South Alabama
If you are ever in this area, I would love to paddle with you and introduce you to our lovely streams.

if you’re in St. Clair Co.
these would be close to you

Cahaba - Bibb County sections

Terrapin Creek near Piedmont, AL - here’s a link to the local outfitter

Check out
the Upper Tallapoosa near Heflin.

Terrapin Creek
Someone beat me to making a comment about Terrapin Creek…it’s about 15 minutes north of Piedmont right on the Calhoun-Cherokee County line. is their website (Terrapin Outdoors) and there’s a link to the local river gauge for flow information. The upper 8 mile trip is nice between 200-350 cfs…much higher than that it can be rough on the inexperienced. A little less than that it can turn into a dodging rocks and getting hung up too much trip. They rent SOT kayaks for $25 per person and that includes the shuttle…I’m not sure about canoe fees. Make sure you call ahead to check the river levels and make a reservation (they are closed on Mondays) The water levels have been really good so far this year…last summer they dropped below 100cfs. The owner (Mike) is a real nice guy…I bought 2 new SOT’s from him and ran the upper trip a month or so ago. The water was somewhere between 300-350 that day and I covered the 8 miles in about 3 hours…I was by myself and didn’t make many stops…you could easily make it a 4 or 5 hour trip. Here’s some pics of that trip and the creek in general:

Other Ideas
Here’s some additional info and shots from the creeks around Lake Guntersville State Park and a few others in NE Alabama you might consider:

Short Creek Lake Guntersville State Park

Town Creek Lake Guntersville State Park

Spring Creek (just south of the City of Guntersville)

Locust Fork River (that jimyaker mentioned earlier, really fun but proceeed with caution)

Little River (near Fort Payne/Mentone, this one was about 4-5 miles round trip but the river is usually as smooth as glass and is too small for anything more than idling motor boat traffic…after you paddle you can walk to DeSoto Falls and then drive down the scenic highway along Little River Canyon)

Lake or Slow River
I concur with Memphis. It sounds like you and your wife have physical limitations in addition to being new to paddling. Still water is the place for you to practice initially. Letting the flow take you downstream sounds nice, but once you leave the put-in point, there is no turning back and if you hit obstacles you cannot handle or you are not fit to make the whole trip, you could be in trouble. If you insist of moving water in Central Alabama, I would start with sections of the Tallapoosa or Coosa rivers. There are any number of bridges you could paddle between on both rivers. Just don’t start with the stretch between Jordan Dam and Wetumpka on the Coosa or try to take on the two miles below Thurlow dam on the Tallapoosa. I live in Dadeville by the way and recently completed what I claim to be the first total descent of the Tallapoosa River from Paulding County, Georgia to Fort Toulouse below Wetumpka.