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Cahaba River in Alabama

Trip Overview

Cahaba River, AL, between Suttle and Highway 80

I'm just writing to let everyone know there is no reason to be afraid of canoeing this stretch during an exceptional dry spell. Three friends and I were determined to go canoeing despite having experienced some of the driest weather in recent memory for central Alabama and during a drought that rendered most local streams unfloatable.

I had a hunch that the the stretch of the Cahaba between the Suttle community and U.S. Highway 80 (Section 18 of the Cahaba in Foshee's Alabama Canoe Rides and Float Trips, 9.7 miles) would have enough flow to provide a pleasurable float in even the worst drought conditions, and it turns out I was right. The dry conditions actually created a unique experience, as I saw a side of this particular float trip I had never seen before. The low water levels exposed many new pebble bars that afforded a scenic rest stop around nearly every bend, and the frequent sand bars were covered with grasses which gave the stretch a whole new look.

As always, we saw deer and water birds aplenty and thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of the Cahaba. Despite the low water, there was plenty of current and no need to exhaust yourself paddling, just steer yourself around the occasional submerged stobs and shallows. I think there was one shoal where we actually had to put a foot in the water and push off to make it across and that was it, other than that the Cahaba once again proved itself to be "Old Faithful" in all weathers.

The trip would have taken about 5-6 hours as usual, except for our frequent stops to swim and relax, for which the water temperature was perfect. All in all, the trip was just as enjoyable for me as any I have ever taken on the Cahaba, and I will not hesitate to trust these lower stretches of the river in extremely dry weather in the future.

Accommodations:

I am not aware of any rental outfits or shuttle services near this stretch. We always use two vehicles and our own canoes. Parking beneath both bridges is adequate for a couple of vehicles and trailers and has been safe in my experience.

Fees:

no

Directions:

Put-in is North of Highway 80 on Perry County Road 6 near the Suttle Community, beneath the bridge.
Take-out is at Highway 80 just west of Selma, beneath the bridge.

Resources:

John Foshee's "Alabama Canoe Rides and Float Trips."
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip