The Tennessee River flows through the heart of downtown Chattanooga and provides a vast freshwater playground for paddlers to indulge their love of water. The 45 miles between Chickamauga Dam and Nickajack Dam, known as the Tennessee River Blueway, provides scenic flatwater paddling options ranging from half day excursions to multi-night paddling adventures. The lakes created by the dams are full of backwater sloughs begging to be explored. The South, North and West Forks of Chickamauga Creek along with Lookout Creek provide peaceful paddling and wildlife viewing opportunities, while the Hiwassee, Ocoee, Nantahala, Cartecay, and Chattooga offer whitewater thrills for adrenaline seekers.

Paddling in Chattanooga

Flatwater Paddling | Recreational Paddling is paddling in its simplest most relaxed form and the most common type. Recreational kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards allow users to access flatwater lakes, creeks, and rivers for short distance trips over short periods of time. Sit on top or sit in kayaks, fishing kayaks, canoes and paddle boards are typically wide and stable making them a good choice for beginners. Chattanooga is a paddle friendly town and has multiple canoe/kayak launch points that are open and accessible to the public on many of its lakes, rivers, and creeks.

Touring is a form of paddling that’s intended to cover a long distance over a long period of time. Watercrafts will be longer, sleeker and track well on flatwater lakes and rivers as well as on seas and oceans. Touring may involve several hours to multi-day paddling trips with camping along the way. Kayaks are equipped with hatches and bungees to store gear and equipment to stay out for long periods of time.

Whitewater Kayaking and Paddle Boarding involves paddling a kayak or a paddle board on a river or creek with rapids. Whitewater kayaking can range from active, moving water, to demanding, extreme whitewater and requires knowledge and skill to navigate and maneuver the craft to avoid dangers/hazards on the river. This type of paddling should never be done alone and prior experience is highly recommended.

Whitewater Rafting is typically done with a commercial rafting company or outfitter that provides equipment, transportation and a trained guide that assists participants in navigating rapids on a whitewater river. Dealing with risk and the need for teamwork is often a part of the experience. Going with a commercial rafting company is highly recommended unless you are trained and skilled in reading whitewater.

Tubing is the most relaxed form of water recreation in that it requires the least amount of gear or skill. Inflatable tubes are used to float down a Class I-II river or creek.



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