Timing a river trip

I am a virgin paddler, but have recently aquired a canoe.I was thinking of having my friend drop me at a local lake and paddling my way down river back to my place on another lake. It is about 60 miles by car and with all the winding in the river it appears to be about the same. My question is with no paddling experience and a slow river what is the average milage one could expect to achieve in this type trip.

I will not be racing just leisure paddling.

I am trying to decide if i will need overnight gear as well as extra food etc.

Just for those that will ax it is Davy Crocket lake to Douglas lake on the Nolichucky river.

I’m not sure how fast the river flows but in moderate streams around here I can usually manage 10 miles a day if I’m just poking along. Some people paddle constantly and will go for 20 miles in a day. Others are a bit ludicrous and can tell you how many miles they did in a day.

I think you could make a 4 or 5 day trip out of it.

Let us know how it turns out



It’s not “ax” it’s ASK
Yes, you will need overnight gear, and quite possibly two nights. There are so many variables involved, including the paddler that it’s hard to say for sure. 60 miles, some would do it in half a day, some would do it in a week. Wind, rain, and hillbillies can all slow you down.

I suggest that in addition to improving your paddling skills, you also improve your grip on the English language. An “ax” is something I have to grind with people that say “ax” instead of “ask”.

With no experience
I think 12 miles a day for a noobie would be pushing it, unless it has a strong current.

Also if it is 60 miles by road, you can bet your sweet bippie that it will be a lot more than that by river.

I have never seen a straight river yet, unless it was a man made one.

For what it is worth, we live fairly close to where the Nolichucky, (big time white water) starts at the NC , TN border where the Cane river and the Toe river converge.



I’m no racer
But I do paddle a bit.

10-20 miles a day is comfortable with no current to help me along. I’ve done 30 miles in a day but it was a long summers day and I was seriously beat by the end of it.

Add in some favorable current and your distance will go up pretty quickly. Wind in almost any direction will slow you down. Anything that makes you stop and/or carry will slow you down.

Before I took on a 60 miler in a new to me craft I’d want to get a little seat time on shorter trips.

Also, get on Google Earth and study
your proposed route on the satellite images. It may help for you to see whether there are deadfalls, multiple channels that would be difficult to work through, etc. Google Earth images are not always good enough to allow such determinations, but you just have to check what is there for your area. You can also get B&W images from USGS by using a service like terraserver.com.

ax me nice
Ahha, You are the first person in almost 4 years of posting and chatting online who has comented on that particular colloquialism. And you are right I need to practice not using it since i do not use it in speech but do it automaticalluy when i type.

Probably a bad habit i have aquired trying to emulate all my friends from various parts of the nation.

But since you axed me nice i will try to refrain from amuseing myself that way…

my guess based on experience

– Last Updated: Nov-19-09 5:33 PM EST –

fell right between Tommys numbers. I ball-park 15 miles a day. Soloing a big tandem probably less. Headwind way less, good favorable current thrown in helps of course but headwind can kill your progress.

Smollett, 60 miles/half day/ in a canoe??? I gotta AX, how doya' dodat?

timed river trip
Hi,I will save the white water for a much later trip.

If you are familiar with the Tn. side you can see the route to get there is a very angular route as well.I just finished a bicycle trip of over 15,000 miles that had I read before hand all the posts on planning and training and required gear; i would have been too tired to ever start.

It worked for cycling (that was my 3rd transcon trip,so i am going to hit this one the same way…

I am quite cautious by most outdoorsey/adventurists standards so tho i don’t enjoy the planning i don’t take extrodinary chances as well.Thats why the Nolichucky south of the park…

I didn’t say I did 60 miles in a halfday
but I know there are people out there who can. Depends how long the paddling day is. I personally don’t think 100 mile days downriver are out of the reach of any skilled paddler willing to put in a sunup to sundown paddle. Asking how far one can paddle in a day is like asking how far someone can bike in a day, or how many bricks they can lay in a day, etc. It’s completely subjective.

Now that right there was funny i don’t care who your father is.

miles in a day
He is right. While peddaling thru Wisconsin i happened upon a canoe race.Extreme canoe race. These guys were cranking out some serious miles and had to do it in one day to not be disqualified…

You are way off the mark my friend
My wife and I race the Suwanee River 52 miler each year.

We win our class which is C-2 mixed competition cruiser, and it took us over ten hours this year due to nil current.

In a good current year we will do it in about eight hours.

That is all out paddling with no sight seeing.

Take about a hour off that time for the younger jocks.



Try a twenty miler and take overnight gear.

pack enough food …

– Last Updated: Nov-19-09 11:07 PM EST –

........ for 5 days , camp gear , rain gear , take a GPS and monitor your progress , get to the end when you get there (1 day or 5 , you choose) ...

Have a backup plan and an out just in case .

What canoe ??

An anchored or tied off canoe can make a good platflorm to sleep in .

ps., ... how many miles do get on a bike tire before it's not usable anymore ??

just getting an ideal
I wasn’y meaning to nail down a definate number,just trying to make sure i needed to carry the extra gear,and food.Seems like the consensus is that i should definately plan to camp at least one night and maybe two. Thanks guys i will take all that to heart and plan accordingly…

Why so long?
Why not ease into the sport of expedition canoeing by taking a shorter trip? Equipment is important for enjoyment, and you’ll learn some of those lessons the hard way. If it’s not enoyable, you won’t stick with it. Hopefully, you boat is not a fishing canoe that handles like a mack truck.

as jackl pointed out
that river is probably much longer than the road beside it. I paddle a slow river by my place, and it travels an average of 4 miles for every linear mile. You could be looking at literally a couple hundred miles of river.

5 days worth of stuff might be best.

Wear and tear - caution
You are a virgin paddler, which means you likely have neither an efficient stroke yet nor have time in getting your joints and muscles acclimated to this activity… and you want to start out committing to a 60 mile paddle? You’ll also be doing more strokes per mile than someone who is more seasoned, because at this point you probably can’t make the boat go straight.

Granted there should be some help from the current, but even with this it is a prescription for hurting yourself.

I’d suggest that you try some shorter trips and build up to that kind of trek.

3 mph avg
I use 3 mph for an estimate for flatwater. That works pretty well, considering a variety of conditions. IF you get strong upstream winds, which are not uncommon, your speed can drop to 1 mph. It doen’t take much of a headwind to negate the help you get from the current.

At a guess, if you were a reasonably competent paddler, it will take you 3 days minimum to cover that 60 miles, especially if you want to be taking your time and lunch stops.

aside from the speed you can paddle at, you need to consider your pace and endurance. I’ve paddle 3 20 mile days back to back on lakes, and that winds up being a lot of work and long days. Its really important to get as early a start as you can - the strength of the wind will be increasing all day - bestto paddle at dawn, when the wind may be minimal.