Paddling Tips

Two women canoeing on Clear Creek.
There's nothing like a fun-filled canoe ride on a calm section of Clear Creek.

Thomas T. Hall

When paddling on the Obed Wild and Scenic River, please keep the following information in mind:

  • All sections of the park's streams feature potentially lethal hazards and require extensive whitewater paddling experience.
  • Go with someone who is familiar with the particular section of river that you will be paddling. Paddling clubs are a great way to make these connections.
  • Appropriate equipment including a lifejacket intended for whitewater use, a whitewater helmet, a throw rope, a spare paddle and a wetsuit or drysuit are all considered essentials. The boat that you are paddling must be designed for whitewater.
  • The park's rivers are extremely remote. If you encounter difficulties you will be a long way from assistance and may find yourself spending an unexpected night outdoors. Carry basic survival gear such as food, water, a light, a fire source and a first aid kit. As a rule, cell phones do not work in the river gorges. Thick undergrowth and extremely rugged terrain can make walking out incredibly difficult.
  • Know the stream flow and what a given level on a particular section of river means. Knowledge of the latter will come with experience. For recent river gauge readings, call 1-800-238-2264 or follow the real-time data link. The gauges that are most relevant for this park are the following: Emory River at Oakdale, Obed River at Lancing, Obed River at Adams Bridge, Clear Creek at Lilly Bridge, and Daddys Creek Near Hebbertsburg. Remember that stream levels can rise rapidly and keep an eye on the weather forecast.
  • January, February, March and April are the heart of the park's paddling season. May and December are shoulder months when minimum flow levels may or may not be present. Only under rare circumstances, after exceptionally heavy rain events or during unusually wet years, will you find sufficient water in the park's streams in the remaining, warmer months.

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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P.O. Box 429
Wartburg, TN 37887


423 346-6294

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