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Black Warrior River in Alabama

Trip Overview

Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River

I used my Necky sky kayak as it fits easily in the back of my Toyota truck. My wife dropped me off after work below the highway 31 bridge about 5:30 I figured it was a 6-7 mile paddle and that I'd be out before dark.

The first hour was very peaceful and there were a lot of fish in the shallow water. The river here is like a series of lakes with easy rapids there were only about 6 rapids in this section and they were easy at this low water stage. Only one rapid had enough waves to splash a little water into the cockpit.

I grossly underestimated the distance and it took until about 10PM to finish the float. Plan for about 5-6 hours and since it is mostly flatwater with little current plan on paddling. It is reasonably scenic and would make a great fishing trip. I plan to return with my flyrod using my aluminum canoe and may even bring the outboard.

There were no homes on the water and I didn't see anyone. There are some mines and you can hear the equipment and the traffic at times from I-65. There are a lot of trees in the water and this is the biggest hazard.

I realized that I was in trouble when I didn't see some landmarks after about an hour. I had paddled up and floated back from the lower end of this section. I started paddling hard and was pretty nervous as it started getting dark. I ran the only significant rapid just before dark and it was easy.

After dark I paddled using a cresent moon for light. There was not enough light to really see much I just knew that if there was a smooth reflection I wouldn't run into anything. Beavers scared me a couple of times as they would come within a few yards and loudly slap their tails.

Despite my very poor planning this trip ended without incident except that my wife was worried. I would have preferred having a paddling buddy, and I don't recommend paddling alone. Don't paddle a new section unless you are sure there is enough time.


plenty of motels


no fees


Drive north from Birmingham, AL on Interstate 65 and exit 275. Turn right and you will soon see Highway 31. Turn left and after a couple of miles you will cross the river. The access is very steep on the south side of the bridge on the right facing south. My 4 wheel drive truck had no problems but a 2 wheel drive might.
The take out is the bridge on Mount Olive road. Take I-65 north and exit 272 and go west about 12 miles. When you cross the bridge turn left and there is a launching ramp under the bridge. It is paved, but narrow and steep.
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip