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Does your vision of paddling evoke images of a tranquil glide across a glass-like lake, an exploratory jaunt down a tiny inlet spur off a river trail, where herons and turtles watch your every stroke — or do you envision a wild roller coaster run where frothy water whips across your deck as you carve a route, treacherously snaking around protruding rocks and monster drops, pumping your adrenaline to the max? Or maybe your perfect paddle is a scenario that lies somewhere in between. Either way, Knoxville abounds in scenic lakes and rivers for you to explore.

Check our weekly event calendar for group paddles - http://www.outdoorknoxville.com/calendar/weekly


Along with the peaceful serenity that paddling affords, its simplistic nature creates an unobtrusive approach for viewing wildlife in their natural surroundings. As low-impact sports, rowing and flatwater kayaking can be made as strenuous as you want it to be. Depending on wind and water conditions, you might enjoy an effortless float through quiet water, or your excursion can present you with a really good workout. With either scenario, flatwater paddling is a fun activity enjoyed by all ages and skill levels.

Concord Park provides an ideal spot for paddlers to access the calm water off the main channel of Fort Loudoun Lake with access to creeks. Access to the launch area is at the Concord Park Fishing Pier at 11550 S. Northshore Drive.

Fort Dickerson Park in South Knoxville allows non-motorized water vessels - kayaks, canoes and standup paddleboards in the quarry. The City is currently improving the Augusta Ave entrance to allow for more parking and easy access to the quarry lake.

Governor Ned McWherter/Riverside Landing Park provide a boat ramp and dock to the Tennessee River and is located below James White Parkway.

Ijams Nature Center offers an ADA adaptive dock located at the Ijams River Landing on the Tennessee River. The amenity allows paddlers of all abilities to have the opportunity to experience nature from Knoxville’s arguably greatest natural resource: its rivers. The dock is free and open to the public. Motorized watercraft are not permitted. Paddlers can rent canoes, kayaks and SUPs from River Sports Outfitters at Meads Quarry. Personal watercraft are not permitted on the quarry.

Harrell Road Stormwater Park offers a kayak/canoe launch that connects to the Beaver Creek Water Trail, a 6-mile stretch of Beaver Creek, running from Harrell Road Stormwater Demonstration park to the Northwest Sports Complex and is a mix of light rapids and peaceful, placid water. Looking for folks to paddle with, check out the Beaver Creek Kayak Club!

Holston River Park, nestled along the banks of the Holston River, provides a canoe/kayak launch at the north end of the park.

Suttree Landing Park, just minutes from downtown, features a kayak/canoe launch that connects to the Tennessee River.

Volunteer Landing Park on the Tennessee River offers a public boating dock.

Kayaking on the Lake


Cherokee Lake
Cove Lake
Douglas Lake
Fort Loudoun Lake
Melton Hill Lake
Norris Lake
Tellico Lake
Watts Bar Lake


Big South Fork River
Clinch River
French Broad River
Holston River
Little River
Nolichucky River
Pigeon River
Powell River
Tennessee River


Knoxville is surrounded on all sides by exceptional whitewater, and is regarded as one of the best paddling towns in the country. Heading North and West, the Obed Wild and Scenic River area and the Big South Fork National River are both protected, free-flowing rivers that provide excellent whitewater paddling for our area. South and East of Knoxville, we have the rivers that run through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee National Forest. These classic mountain streams rely primarily on winter and spring rains to raise water levels enough for paddling while the dam-released Ocoee, Hiwassee, and Pigeon Rivers provide whitewater during the summer months long after most free-flowing rivers have slowed to a trickle. In additon, Walden Ridge and the Western Plateau offer more whitewater adventure. Our whitewater contributor, Kirk Eddlemon has been paddling for 12 years tackling wild rivers all over the world. Each of these featured regions present his expertise of the area in addition to the river's classifications and links to more in depth information.

Paddling the Obed River


Big South Fork National River
Cherokee National Forest - North
Cherokee National Forest - South
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Obed Wild & Scenic River
Walden Ridge
Western Plateau


Class I: Easy Class
Class II: Novice Class
Class III: Intermediate Class
Class IV: Advanced Class
Class V: Expert Class
Class VI: Extreme and Exploratory

Experience the Outdoors with NOC and help support the Legacy Parks FOUNDATION!

Plan a summer white water rafting trip with Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) and enjoy a 10% Outdoor Knoxville discount with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Legacy Parks Foundation. Choose your outing — from mild to wild — it’s a great opportunity for everyone to get on the water!

RaftingWhitewater Rafting on the Pigeon River – A family fun adventure! Splash through big, bouncy wave trains and nearly continuous Class II-IV rapids on the Upper Pigeon (must be 8 years old) or experience a calmer float trip for kids as young as 3 on the Lower Pigeon River! Book now!

Whitewater Rafting on the Ocoee River – America’s favorite! Ocoee River rafting means splashy waves and continuous action—that's why we call it the "Ocoee Coaster!" The Middle Ocoee River is the nation's most popular whitewater rafting run, while the Upper Ocoee boasts Class IV whitewater of 1996 Olympic fame. From beginning to end, this east Tennessee river's fast-moving waters will get you soaked, smiling and laughing. Book now!

kayakingLearn to Whitewater Kayak! Learn the basic strokes and tips to build better boat control, and experience the moving-water action as you paddle a section of the Lower Pigeon River! (must be 8 yrs old). Book now!







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