We had a large group of ten people take off on our annual weekend canoe getaway down the Cahaba River. This thirty mile stretch below Birmingham, AL is fairly tame with a few shoals here and there and, for the most part, outstanding scenery.
Our outfitter met us at the Highway 52 bridge on the Alabama Small Boats property, loaded us up, and drove us north to the put-in at Lorna Road. From there, we paddled slowly downstream back to the Highway 52 bridge and set up camp for the night. The following morning, we departed fairly early and paddled/floated all day. Once the second day was over, we had traveled approximately 16 miles with the take-out being only four more miles down river.
On Sunday morning, we woke up, packed up and made it to the take-out at the Old Slab by 11:00 am. Our outfitter arrived shortly there after to pick us up and drove us back to our cars.
The section of river between the Highway 52 bridge and the Old Slab is right at 20 miles. There is no other take-out between these two points that I'm aware of. It's fairly secluded and we only saw a few other people. One group of four paddlers doing the same trip we were and two people swimming in the river on private property.
All-in-all, the trip was enjoyable but we really would have liked some extra water. I've heard about 200 cfs is as low as you want to run it but we made it all the way down with flow as low as 67 cfs. There was a lot of dragging at times but we floated for the most part. We're attempting this trip again in April of 2011 with much higher flows anticipated so I will report back at that time.
Primitive camping only. Be considerate as there are no public campgrounds. Most surrounding land is commercially owned and they don't appear to mind if you leave no trace.
We-no-nah canoes provided by the outfitter for rentals and my Old Town Discovery 158
Contact David Butler through Alabama Small Boats. He outfitted our trip and had lots of information about the river.
John Foshee's "Alabama Canoe Rides and Float Trips"