your paddlesports destination

French Broad River in Tennessee

Trip Overview

We put in just north of Seven Islands off Kelly Lane off Kodak Rd. Great trip back to Knoxville River front. Moderate current about 15 miles below Douglas Dam. We paddled the upper leg last year in canoes.) This is a long daytrip, approximately 19 miles to Calhoun's and the river front area.

Upstream the river is great for site seeing and wildlife viewing. Everything from deer to blue herons. Ducks of all type are in the rock weirs. These were supposedly built by the early Corp of Engineers in the late 1800's to help with river traffic. The river runs deep in areas and quite shallow in other parts. Each trip down the river is different due to the amount of water flow.

We put in at 11 AM and paddle for a couple of hours before breaking for lunch and leisurely swim. As we paddled on down the river it bends back and forth with farmland on one side and rock bluffs to the other side. As you get closer to town around the forks of the river you begin to pick up more boat traffic because the depth and width of the river brings them up stream. Where the French Broad and the Holston come together you feel your almost home but you still have several miles left to paddle.

Ijams Nature Center is on the south shore and the boardwalk they have built along the river is impressive. You can cut inland around Island Home Airport but at the time we didn't realize you could get thru. As we paddled south of the airport, the jet ski who buzzed us going up the river came out that way. So if he could pass thru surely a kayak could.

All in all it was a great day. A little long for a beginner we had with us. About 8 hours on the water including lunch and swimming. As I said we took out by Calhoun's but it would have been easier to take out at the boat launch under the South Knoxville Bridge on Riverside Drive. Plenty of parking and you don't get into the traffic around the downtown marina.


No accommodations. Limited parking but there is a boat launch area to put in. Best if you have a person to shuttle the vehicles.


I-40 East to Midway Road, turn right and follow signs to River Islands Golf Course. When you get to Kodak RD. (Golf Course) turn right. First left is Kelly Lane. Follow about 1 1/2 miles to you get to river.


TVA Typo Maps.

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

Locations on this Trip