The Hiwassee River Blueway offers 55 miles of adventure in Southeast Tennessee. Extending from the Appalachia Dam near the border of North Carolina to the Tennessee River at Blythe’s Ferry in Birchwood, the wide river is well known for its water-based recreational opportunities including tubing, kayaking, rafting, and fishing.
The upper section of the Hiwassee River is the most popular section of the river, offering an easy to moderate whitewater experience on Class I and II rapids, with the occasional Class III. This section winds through the mountains of the Cherokee National Forest and is designated as a Tennessee State Scenic River. There are a number of outfitters near the river that offer raft, funyak and tube rentals between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year.
The middle section consists of swift flatwater between the Highway 411 bridge and Charleston, offering slow, peaceful floats and fishing for trout, bass, bluegill, and crappie. During most summers, striped bass make their way up this stretch of the river, as well. Motorboats can generally navigate to the Patty Bridge access area.
The lower section is slow-moving flatwater between North Mouse Creek to Blythe Ferry boat ramp near the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge and the Tennessee River. All types of boats can navigate this stretch of the waterway, moving between many inlets and islands. Fishing is abundant in the main channel, inlets, and creeks along the way. Agriculture and industry line of the banks of this section of the river, with a few marinas to provide food, drinks, and fuel.
CAUTION: The Hiwassee River water release schedule is controlled by Tennessee Valley Authority’s Apalachia Dam. Water release schedules can change suddenly and without notice due to changes in weather conditions and power system requirements. The depth and swiftness of the river can change rapidly in the upper section of the river. Your safety depends on obeying all posted safety regulations and warnings.
Two generators are required for adequate water levels on the upper section for recreational boaters. TVA releases two generators on weekends Memorial Day through Labor Day. This release typically begins at 11 a.m. and boaters can generally get on the river by NOON below the Appalachia Powerhouse. Be sure to double-check TVA – Apalachia Water Release Schedule before you go.
Hours and Cost
Open Daily: Sunrise to Sunset
Cost: Free. Guiding services vary
Cherokee National Forest—Ocoee Ranger District
3171 Highway 64
Benton, TN 37307