A friend and I canoed the Cahaba River from the put-in on Old Overton Road (near Liberty Park) to the Highway 280 overpass. The weather was near 70 and overcast. The water was an estimated 50 degrees.
From other reports I have read, it is highly recommended to paddle this section with a minimum 200 CFS. We had around a 280 CFS and did not drag. There is one rapid at the put in that MIGHT be classified as a class 1 rapid, maybe. There is also one other rapid on the trip near the 2nd I-459 overpass that would likely count as a class 1 rapid. The river is very shallow in most of the upper part of this section and I could easily see it being a miserable trip in low water.
The section is 6.5 miles total, with the first three miles being in moving water and the remaining trip being in very slow moving water to flatwater caused by the dam at Hwy 280. Recent rain has caused a significant amount of floating trash in the flatwater sections and a trash bag would be good to take in future trips.
The tornado damage near the middle of the trip was interesting to see up close. Otherwise, we saw nothing else on the water, except a few wood ducks.
Overall, this was a good section to paddle. It took us just under 1.5 hours to complete the section. Coupled with the Grants Mill to Old Overton section would make for a nice 12.5 mile trip. that could probably be done in under 4 hours in a canoe.
Gravel Parking with concrete walk to river. There is a small concrete slab in the edge of the river.
I-459 to Liberty Park. Take a left onto Overton Road, then a right onto Old Overton Road. The put-in will be on your left in around 3/4 of a mile.
I-459 to Liberty Park Exit. Take a right on Overton Road. Take a right at the stop sign to stay on Overton Road and take an immediate left to turn onto Old Overton Road. the put-in will be on your right approx. 3/4 mile down the road.
The river only flows one way; Google Earth can tell you how far.