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Calfkiller River in Tennessee

Trip Overview

My brother and I launched our two kayaks just above the old Sparta water plant at about noon. The river was a touch cloudy from previous rains but the flow was very slow. By the way, there is a rip rap low head dam about 100 yards downstream of this boat launch. Be aware as there have been a couple of drownings there.

We paddled upstream playing at fishing but not catching anything. After passing above some recent housing developments, the river becomes surrounded by farming lands and hardwood forest.

I estimate we paddled about 3.5 miles or so before stopping and turning around. There are many creeks and springs flowing into the river including several small waterfalls and at least one cave. The river is quite cool even in late August. My brother and I both remembered it being cold from our childhood when we both learned to swim in this river.

Before we turned around, we did paddle a short way up Wildcat Creek to what appeared to be a beaver dam but determined that it was just the result of a tree falling across the creek and then log, limbs and other debris piling up on the downed tree. The water level was about a foot higher upstream of the dam.


There are no facilities at this launch sight. Also be aware that all the property along the river is private property.


No fees or permits are required unless you want to fish and then you need a Tennessee fishing license.


From the square in Sparta, Tennessee follow highway 84 north (locals refer to this as River Road) to the boat ramp just beyond the old abandoned city water plant.


River Rd. Boat Ramp


The river is mentioned in a couple of canoe and kayaking location guide books.

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip