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Paddle the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River

Oneida, Tennessee


Added by Kern Ducote

Scenic waterway getaway in Oneida, TN.

This is an awesome trip because it allows you get a little taste of what it could have been like to explore the nation by waterway hundreds of years ago. Paddling as a means of traveling is an ancient practice. You are able to glide through nature, more a part of it rather than an unwelcome intruder.

Yamacraw River Access is where you want to park your vehicle and meet your shuttle. This is where you will be finishing your trip. You will take the shuttle to Leatherwood Ford River access. The shuttle is $60 for up to 4 people and their water craft(s).

On this 32 mile stretch of water there are two portages. A portage is an opportunity to bypass a particularly advanced section of rapids. (Highly suggested) (Expert terrain)

The first portage is pretty obvious and easy to access, although it is a long way to carry your boats and gear, almost a quarter mile. This portage is within twenty minutes of steady paddling from the put in (Leatherwood Ford River access) on the paddler's right.

The second portage is a little less obvious where to get out although the roar of the rapids makes it unmistakable. There is also a look out platform high up on the cliff band on the paddler's right. When you see that you are getting close. The portage is on the left.

After the second portage you may start to see more people as you near the end of the trip and emerge back into civilization.

If you don't have three days and two nights to spare you could easily paddle this 32 miles in two days and one night if you wished. We just took our time.

The only other area of difficulty was near the end of the second day. There is a rough section of rapids marked by two large boulders in the center of the river, which makes you choose to go left or right. You cannot go down the center. It is narrow on either side, but the right side is less precarious because the under current and drift of the river pushes you to the right. Use the drift to your advantage instead of fighting it. We camped just beyond there on a nice sandy beach.

Anything you do not want getting wet or lost in the river make sure to have it in a dry bag and somehow attached to the boat. Otherwise if you capsize or take a wave over the bow it could be soaked, ruined, or swept out of the boat.

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Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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