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Hiwassee River

Class I-II+

After a long spill through the western face of the Appalachian Mountains, the Hiwassee State Scenic River widens to become a beautiful, fresh water destination for tubers, paddlers and anglers.

The dam controlled, Class II river is perfect fpr beginning paddlers, with wide, open rapids and bouncy wave trains. 

There are some bruising, rocky sections, so doing your first run with a guide or experienced friend is highly recommended. 

The section from the Apalachia Powerhouse Dam to Reliance, TN can be run in an afternoon. Put in at the Powerhouse Rd. launch just downriver of the Powerhouse and take out where the TN Valley Railroad bridge crosses the river at Reliance.

American Whitewater Hiwassee River Information

The Tennessee Valley Authority provides recreational releases on the river, May-October. 

Hiwassee River Recreational Release Schedule

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Hiwassee River Access Map

Related Activities

Class II+ whitewater tubing, rafting (upper river), flat water paddling (lower river), hiking, camping, mountain biking, wildlife viewing

Activity Type

Class II+ whitewater paddling


Polk County, TN

Distance from Outdoor Chattanooga

65 miles | 1 hour, 25 minutes

GPS Coordinates

35.189522, -84.498966

Google Map


No restrictions
Recreational Apalachia Dam releases May-October


Yes. Forest Service pit toilets.

Overnight Camping


Hiwassee-Ocoee State Park and private campgrounds

Cherokee National Forest (Hiwassee River Zone)

Contact Information

Cherokee National Forest
Ocoee Ranger District
3171 Highway 64
Benton TN 37307-5823
(423) 338-3300

Cherokee National Forest South

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