Trips in Nashville, Tn area

I am planning a trip to the Nashville area at the end of Sept. I will be in Nashville itself a couple of days, but I will have enough time to do something even a full days drive from there. I am looking primarily for day trips, but an overnighter is not out of the question for a really scenic trip.


  1. Do I take the solo canoe (Royalex) or the touring kayak (fiberglass)? On the map it there appears to be a lot of more open water lakes that might favor bringing the kayak, but I am not sure if these are the more scenic paddles that I would be most interested in.

  2. What would be your best recommendations for trips 1)with the canoe 2)with the kayak.

  3. Any paddling clubs in that area I should try and contact?

    Thanks for any help you can give.



Have you looked at the pnet trip reports
for Tennessee?

If you want fast-moving, open water with surrounding bluffs and (mostly) forest, you might consider the Caney Fork. There are active outfitters who can help with shuttle. That section is dam fed, so if you wanted to go upstream, you might need your kayak to do it.

I’ve done the Emory (Obed) which is easy ww, but I think it’s too low right now. Needs at least 600 cfs. I’ve done the Red River, easy rapids, but I don’t know its level now. You’ll have to research further to find streams near Nashville.

I looked at the trip reports
but not being familiar with the state I had no idea of what trips were anywhere near Nashville. I did finally resort to the slow process of going back and forth between the reports and searching on Google maps to try to find ones near Nashville.

Even with that I was not too sure in many cases whether the trips required the royalex canoe or if they could be done in the sea kayak.


I googled canoeing rivers near Nashville
and got results for the Harpeth, Duck, Red, Caney Fork, etc. Useful information.

I will follow up on those.


E-Mail Boyscout
I know he’s done some of the rivers around Nashville like the Harpeth.

pray for rain

– Last Updated: Sep-09-13 5:31 PM EST –

The lakes of Tennessee are largely impoundments with considerable motor boat traffic, not exactly my cup of tea, but it might suit you. Having said that, I lived on Tim's Ford Lake (an impoundment of the Elk River in south-central Tennessee) and spent many hours canoeing it, at least some of which were reasonably enjoyable.

Personally, I think the rivers of Tennessee are far more enjoyable than the lakes, but most are rain dependent and things are pretty low right now. As for central and east-central TN river trips the Duck, Harpeth, Buffalo, Caney Fork, Elk, Sequatchie, and the Big South Fork of the Cumberland are all suitable for non-whitewater trips (the non-whitewater section of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River actually starts at Leatherwood Ford south of the TN/KY border and flows into Kentucky). These will all be dependent on some rain in the next couple of weeks, however.

I think you can forget about the Obed/Emory Watershed. It is dry as dust right now and typically remains so in July, August, and September.

If you are interested in a river trip and it doesn't rain, you could look into the Hiwassee River below Reliance TN for a non-whitewater trip as it is a dam release river. You can paddle from Reliance 6 miles to the Gee Creek Campground, or a mile farther to the Highway 411 crossing, or 6 miles farther to a ramp just above the Ocoee River confluence, or you could go all the way to the Chicamauga Reservoir backwaters which is 28 1/2 miles downstream of Reliance. There is camping at Hiwassee Outfitters in Reliance, or the State Park at Gee Creek.

The Hiwassee has a five mile stretch of Class II whitewater upstream of Reliance and the Ocoee River provides 5 miles of Class III+ whitewater. Both of these rivers have releases but you need to check the schedules.

you could think about
Driving out to Center Hill Lake. It’s big and has very little development and not a bunch of boat traffic

Ryan L.