Whether you are stepping into your boat or onto your board for the first time or have logged enough hours on the water to rival the best of guides, having a little back-pocket information is key. Here is some simple information about some of the Tennessee River Valley’s best paddles–where to show up, how to get there and what to bring along for the ride.
One of the most amazing things about the Tennessee River system and its tributaries is how easy it is for you to get to places to relax and recreate. As part of its mission of service, TVA manages its public lands and waters to support recreation so that the Tennessee Valley remains one of the best places in the country to live, work and play.
The Flint River
Just a stone’s throw away from Huntsville, Ala., the Flint River flows south out of Tennessee and runs through Madison County, Ala. If you’re a beginner, the Flint is the place to learn—in fact, the Flint offers one of the best family floats in north Alabama. One of our favorite paddles is the three-hour float from Highway 72 to Little Cove Rd. Three springs feed this section of the river year-round. If you have plenty of time to really explore the river, this section offers four islands, scenic bluffs and camping. Plus, if you know where to find the right spots, the Flint offers some of the best bass fishing around.
There are six public access sites along the Flint River, which is a tributary of the Tennessee River, where you can put in or take out your paddle craft—and endless ways to plan a trip between them. Assuming three miles per hour is your average speed, you easily could enjoy short stretches of the river in an afternoon, with stops to explore islands and other natural features along the way. To make a multi-day trip, just plan to stay at one of the primitive campgrounds or private rental cabins that line the river’s shores. You can also check out other nearby adventures including hiking and biking at Monte Sano State Park and the Alabama Land Trust trails.
Grab your paddles, your gear and this map, and let your imagination be your guide. All you need to do is get out there and have a good time. Share your own stories and photos on Instagram or Twitter using #TVAfun, or atwww.facebook.com/TVA using our #TVAFun tab.
For fishing regulations and license requirements, please check with Outdoor Alabama or visit www.outdooralabama.com.
Be A Good Steward
The Holston River is known for its clean water and pristine rural shorelines. Here’s how you can help play a part in keeping the river beautiful:
- Stay on the path. Shorelines are fragile ecosystems; please restrict launching and landing to designated areas only.
- Leave no trace behind. No littering, pack it in, pack it out, for more info visit www.lnt.org.
- Look don’t touch. Do not disturb any natural or cultural resources you may encounter.
- Respect private property. Do not trespass above the high watermark.
- Be a happy camper. Camp only in designated areas.
- Don’t play with fire. No campfires unless otherwise designated.
TVA Public Lands
The public lands entrusted to TVA for stewardship are available for hiking, birdwatching, camping, fishing, hunting and other informal recreational pursuits. Some important regulations to protect the resource and your safety should be followed. Camping in a primitive campsite on TVA lands is allowable for up to 14 days. You should follow all state hunting seasons and regulations. In addition, motorized vehicles, cutting or removing vegetation, target shooting or removal of cultural artifacts are not allowed on TVA public lands. For more information visitwww.tva.com/undeveloped, or call the TVA’s Public Lands Information Center at (800) TVA-LAND (toll-free).
*Camping is not allowed on Wheeler NWR.
Follow these 12 tips to help keep your next paddle trip safe:
- Know Your Limits—Paddle water that is appropriate to your skills. Not sure about where to find it? Talk to a local paddle shop owner about good places to paddle for every skill level.
- Keep an Eye on the Weather—Storms can spring up quickly in the south bringing lightning, high winds and choppy water. Point your prow toward shore whenever you hear thunder, no matter how distant.
- Follow the Law for recreational vessels of the United States.
- Bring Flotation—Always wear a Coast Guard-approved lifejacket, type II or III at minimum. Children under 12 years of age must wear a lifejacket.* (*U.S. Coast Guard Requirement)
- Wear a Helmet—If you fall in, a helmet can protect your head from hard or sharp objects that may be lurking below the surface.
- Watch for River Hazards—Watch for fallen tree limbs, barbed wire, bridge piers and other hazards that can snare or entangle you.
- Be Visible...and Audible—Keep alert to other boats. If you believe another boat has not seen you, blow your whistle* and wave your paddle to alert the other boat. A flashlight* is required if you plan to paddle after sunset.
- Dress for Success—Wear clothing sufficient to prevent hypothermia and/or sunburn.
- Wear Sunscreen—The CDC recommends applying sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 to help prevent sunburn and skin damage.
- Don’t Paddle Alone—Paddling is an activity that is always better with friends and family, anyway.
- Never Drink and Paddle—Alcohol impairs coordination and judgment.
- Communicate Your Plan in Advance—Plan ahead, and let someone who is not going on the trip know your paddling agenda. Be aware that some sections of the river have no cell phone service.