The Pigeon River originates in NC and flows in a northwesterly direction before emptying into the French Broad River near river mile 73.8. The river has a drainage area of approximately 689 sq. miles at its confluence with the French Broad River and flows through a mountainous terrain with interspersed communities and small farms. In TN, the Pigeon River flows approximately 22 miles through Cocke County before joining the French Broad River near Newport. Public access along the river is primarily limited to bridge crossings and small pull-offs along roads paralleling the river. There are a few primitive launching areas for canoes or small boats. Upper and Lower Pigeon River. The river takes its name from the passenger pigeon, now an extinct bird, whose migration route once included the river valley in North Carolina.
Fishing: Anglers can catch smallmouth bass on the river all year long. Fishing rules and regulations in the Cherokee National Forest are managed through TWRA.
Paddling: The Pigeon River is a dam-controlled river that runs near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Regular water releases from the dam ensure good water levels through the season, from late May through early September. Due to its proximity to the National Park and the resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, the river is a popular spot for whitewater paddling in Tennessee where the Upper Pigeon boasts class III-IV rapids. The Lower Pigeon is a gentler run with class I-II rapids.