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 to where we put in. I'm not sure if our route was exactly the map 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 that is a little less than half way. 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 throughout the run. 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 Lower Factory Falls where there is mandatory portage. There is also wildlife - we saw a baby water moccasin - but that is to be expected.
Check the flows and calendar on TVA's website: https://www.tva.gov/Environment/Lake-Levels/Valley-Stream-Flows.
There is one mandatory portage right after the "lunch rock." The falls are called Lower Factory Falls. I can see where it would be difficult for some people to portage and drag their canoes or kayaks at this location. If you rent a canoe or kayak, there are employees there to help. Using kayaks, it was not difficult, just used some teamwork between us two.
Kayaking, Canoeing, Stand Up Paddling, Kayak Fishing
River/Creek (Up to Class II)
- Number of Portages: 1