We kayaked Bear Creek at least 4 times this past summer. It is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. We brought our own kayaks and paid $10 to Bear Creek Canoe Run (contact info and directions on Facebook, canoe and kayak rentals) for a lift from our car and where we got out to where we put in. I'm not sure how accurate the map is below as there are other places to put in that I'm not familiar with in the area.
Overall, Bear Creek is a beautiful, easy day trip. It's about 6 miles, and you can stop, eat lunch, swim, and enjoy the view from a large rock where you'll meet new friends! The kids with us were easily able to kayak with their sit-on-top kayaks. Canoeing is popular, but kayaking is much more fun on Bear Creek!
It's easy to jump out and swim. The water is clear and cool. There is a Class II rapid at the "lunch rock" that is fun to kayak. The only big safety issue is the drop after the rock where there is mandatory portage.
Check the flows and calendar on TVA's website: https://www.tva.gov/Environment/Lake-Levels/Valley-Stream-Flows.
There is one required portage right after the "big rock" where you can get out and rest/eat lunch/what have you. It's called Lower Factory Falls. I can see where it would be difficult for some people to drag their canoes or kayaks. If you rent a canoe or kayak, there are employees there to help. Using kayaks, it was not bad, just used some teamwork between us two!
Kayaking, Canoeing, Stand Up Paddling, Kayak Fishing
River/Creek (Up to Class II)
- Number of Portages: 1