Four of us left the GCA Spring Extravaganza early Sunday; we had to get back home to Georgia early.  We had a group of three canoes and one kayaks on the Little Tennessee River.  It was the President’s Paddle, with GCA president and rope throwing champion Lamar Philips.

The put-in is the gravel area at Needmore Road and Long Hammer Road.  Alongside the river is a gravel turnaround and enough space to park about three cars.  The shoreline is relatively flat at the rivers’ edge, so it’s easy to put your boat into the water.

The take-out is a wooden set of stairs at a gravel parking area along the river on Needmore Road, between Big Dog Road and Kudzu Corners Pass.  The parking area is downhill from the road (Needmore Road) and easy to miss.  There is enough space to park about six cars.

Needmore Road along this stretch is not paved; it is a gravel road.  Also, at one point along this gravel stretch of Needmore the road gets narrow and there is not enough width for vehicles to pass side by side.

As best I can tell, this is only about a 2-1/2 mile paddle, if you go straight down the middle of the river.  But this stretch of river is so rocky at low river level, that you must read the river intensely, plot your course, and zig-zag your way down.  It gets technical.  We literally ended-up going from river right to river left and every point in-between… a lot of back and forth.

This is a very picturesque section of river.  It is an uninhabited section, with nothing but natural surroundings.  It would be a very beautiful paddle in the fall, as the leaves are changing.  This is also a great paddle if you are looking for a short paddle should you be driving between Georgia and Bryson City, and not have much time to kill.

Steven Cousins
May 2011