Kayaking in Tennessee

Tennessee is home to some of America’s most stunning natural wonders. This state has been loved by nature lovers for many decades. It is an ideal place to enjoy the great outdoors. It is a great place to go on a hike through the Smoky Mountains, or kayaking along the awe-inspiring river currents in The Volunteer State.

Tennessee has over 41,000 miles of waterways, making it a popular destination for kayakers and other water-sport enthusiasts. This post will list 10 of our favorite places to kayak in Tennessee. It will help you plan your next trip.

Barren Fork River, TN

Barren Fork River, TN

First, the Barren Fork River is located 23.4 miles long and feeds the Cumberland Tennessee River. It is part of the Mississippi Watershed, and it is very unique in comparison to other rivers in the state. The Barren Fork flows east to west, unlike most Tennessee rivers.

It is a great river to enjoy recreational kayaking. There are many public and private access points all along its length, including at Crisp Springs Market, Pepper Branch Park, Rocket Park, and Rocket Park.

Barren Fork does not have any public campgrounds. It is recommended to take a shorter trip. Barren Fork offers calm waters and a wealth of natural beauty along its banks. It is ideal for those who are just starting out in rowing.

Caney Fork River (TN)

Caney Fork River is unique because it can be used for kayaking and other watersports all year. It is approximately 144 miles in length and flows northwest towards the Cumberland River. Caney Fork River is named after the cane-covered river banks that were once home to the explorers who first explored the area, the River is named for them.

Caney Fork River It has some of the clearest waters in Tennessee, making it a great spot for a quick dip. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency stocks the river annually with several types of Trout. Happy Hollow, Cotten’s Marina, and Rock Island State Park are all open to the public.

Cumberland River

Cumberland River

The Cumberland River is Tennessee’s longest river, measuring 668 miles. This river is well-known among avid kayakers, as it is a major US waterway. Although the river is mostly surrounded by farmland, it does run through major cities like Nashville and Clarksville.

Because of its many picnic areas, campgrounds, stores, parks, and other amenities, the Cumberland River is ideal for family kayaking trips. It is suitable for overnight and multi-day trips. Roaring River Park, North Cairo Boat Ramp, and Two Rivers Park are all available for public access.

Harpeth River

The Harpeth River flows for only 115 miles, which is quite short in comparison to other Tennessee rivers. It rises in Rutherford County, before it confluences with the Cumberland Harpeth River at Ashland City.

The Harpeth’s lower section has been designated a scenic Tennessee river. It has slow-moving water which makes it an excellent choice for beginners. This beautiful river is home to a variety of wildlife, making it a great spot for nature lovers who like to relax. The public access points to this river include Tip-A-Canoe and Kingston Springs City Park.

Big South Fork of the Cumberland

Big South Fork of the Cumberland

The Big South Fork is a great place to go if you are looking for whitewater kayaking in Tennessee. It is one of many tributaries to the Cumberland River and flows for 76 miles before it empties into Lake Cumberland in Kentucky.

The section between Oneida & Leatherwood Ford is the best for rapids. This section measures approximately 6 miles and has many rapids, ranging in class from II-IV. It is not recommended for beginners. American Whitewater has more routes along Big South Fork.

The Obed River

The Obed River

The Obed River, Tennessee’s only federally protected waterway, runs approximately 45 miles through Tennessee. You can paddle 35 miles on the Obed River via a kayak, making it a great overnight paddling trip.

Obed boasts one of the most extensive whitewater runs in Southeast, with class II-IV rapids. These rapids can even become class V if the water level is high. They are not suitable for beginners.

There are many shorter routes that you can take, but they will only take a few hours. The popular section from Obed Junction to Nemo is less than 10 miles long. This section features 1 mile of class III-IV rapids, which can be very fun for those who have the skill. You can see the Rock Garden Rapids from that section.

If you are looking for a more relaxing trip, many of the banks are free from any human impact. There are also plenty of caves that can be explored along the banks.

Hiwassee River

Hiwassee River

The Hiwassee River, a paradise of 147 miles that is ideal for beginners paddlers, flows through Georgia. It flows from Georgia to North Carolina, where it joins the Tennessee River. The beautiful and fertile valley that it flows through makes it a favorite spot for campers, families, and fishermen.

The popular section between Appalachia powerhouse and Reliance is a favorite for kayakers. The route is approximately 5 and 1/2 miles long and includes a few class I-I rapids. This is an excellent route for beginners. If you own a boat, you can park at Reliance. Hiwassee Outfitters or Webb Brothers have kayaks available for rent.

The Nolichucky River

The Nolichucky River

Next, we wanted to include the Nolichucky River. This waterway runs 115 miles and traverses the Blue Ridge Mountains as well as some of the highest mountains in the Appalachians. This river is best for advanced kayakers because it has rapids of class III and IV right from the beginning, due to its mountainous route.

You can also watch others kayakers navigate Nolichucky’s 8-mile rapids if paddling isn’t for you. The Nolichucky rapids are best ridden after a storm because the water is deeper and flows faster. Inexperienced kayakers should not attempt this as it can be dangerous and require a lot more whitewater experience. Cheston park and Devil’s Looking Glass are great access points.

Tellico River

Tellico River

Tellico River is a 52.8-mile-long tributary to the Tennessee River. It is well-known for its trout fishing, including brown and rainbow. The river flows through beautiful plains and lush forests, making it a great spot for bird watchers and nature lovers. Tellico has a number of drops for those who are vertically motivated. The “Diaper Wiper” is another notable drop. However, the river has a class II section that is more gentle for those who don’t like fast-moving water.

Little River

Little River

The Little River is the last. It runs 60 miles and is located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is a stunning spot in Tennessee, and it’s definitely worth a visit.

The Sinks is a notable section of the Little River. It’s a series of natural pools that the river turns, and makes it a great point to start a 3-mile section class III-IV rapids down towards Elbow.

Little River is a favorite spot for anglers who are into fishing. It has been named one of America’s 100 finest Trout Streams.

Duck River

Duck River

Higher Pursuits is the best place to learn how to kayak. Higher Pursuits is about the team. Duck River we make sure everyone is happy on the water. Duck River is a picturesque waterway located near Columbia, Tennessee. It offers kayak and canoe rentals. Duck River, which is located near Columbia, Tennessee, has a website that states they aim to “connect you to the natural wonders of the river while providing great services, quality equipment, and a family-friendly environment.” It stretches for 270 miles and is one of the country’s most diverse and biologically rich rivers.

Summing Up Kayaking In Tennessee

That’s all for Tennessee’s top kayaking spots. We hope you find it inspiring for your next paddle trip. This is one of the most beautiful states in terms of scenery. The river banks are filled with gorgeous canyons, deep forests, and wildlife, and there’s even a fun kayaking run.

Make sure you have the right safety gear and experience for kayaking. If you are going to be paddling down Tennessee’s whitewater rivers, you should have sufficient experience.

Check out this post for more information on kayaking in the USA.

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