Whether you prefer the adrenalin-pumping thrill of white water paddling or the leisurely enjoyment of beautiful scenery and wildlife, you can find it all in Alabama. An amazing array of sights and experiences are found in our state. Read on for a review of some of the top paddling destinations in Alabama. While this is not a complete listing of Alabama waters, it is an overview of some of the top spots in the state.
Alabama Paddling Destinations
1 Cahaba River – The Cahaba River winds through Birmingham in the central portion of the state. The river is known for its beauty and incredible assortment of plants and fish. Rare and endangered plant species are abundant such as the Alabama croton, Mohr’s Barbara’s-buttons, Nevius’ stonecrop and the beautiful Cahaba Lily all find a home here. Complementing the state’s variety of fish both rare and unusual include several varieties of darters (goldline, freckled and crystal), the Cahaba shiner and the Alabama sturgeon. Paddling the Cahaba is available to everyone. This is a Class II paddle with multiple access points along the course of the river.
2 Flint River – TThe Flint River in north central Alabama offers another Class I paddle for the novice that features plentiful scenery with gentle paddling. The paddle starts near the Tennessee border. Canoe rentals can be found in Huntsville, Ala., if you are unable to bring your own.
3 Bartram Canoe Trail – The Bartram canoe trail is located in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta in the southern tip of the state. This is a canoe trail similar to those found in the Everglades where there are sleeping platforms placed along the trail. The delta is the second largest in the nation and like the Cahaba River Valley offers an incredible variety of rare animal and plant species. Reservations are required to spend the night on one of the platforms. For more information visit www.bartramcanoetrail.com.
4 Town Creek – Moving over to the Sand Mountain area of northeast Alabama is Town Creek. The upper part of Town creek near the town of Geraldine has good water for the novice to intermediate paddler. The lower part of the creek is more technical with Class III waters in some areas.
5 Short Creek –Short creek is home to one portion of the North Alabama White Water Paddling Festival events featuring a 20-foot waterfall at Short Creek Falls below the normal takeout point. Otherwise, this is a Class II-III water good for intermediate paddlers.
6 Warrior River –A variety of moderate boating is found on the Warrior River north of Birmingham near Blountsville. Multiple areas good for beginner to intermediate paddlers
explain the popularity of the river. Two main branches are the Mulberry and Locust Fork. The Mulberry is one of the more popular runs for beginning to intermediate paddlers featuring Class I-II waters. The Locust Fork is good
water for low time paddlers featuring Class II waters as well.
7 Tallapoosa – the Tallapoosa located southeast of Birmingham and just northeast of Montgomery
is the tail water of the Thurlow Dam. The river ranges from Class II-IV. Because of the heavy flows and dangers associated with the run, it is
not for beginners.
8 Coosa River – The Coosa River is near the Tallapoosa and is another popular paddling venue. This is a Class I-II river with large portions of flat water to strengthen those arms.
9 Little River – The Little River, found in the Little River Canyon in the northeast part of the state, has some of the most challenging water in the Southeast. Expert runs (Class V) can be found here with runs named “Suicide” to cheer you on.
If you are not up to the challenge of a Class V run then come anyway and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the largest canyon east of the Mississippi.