As an avid kayaker, I’m always excited to share new spots, especially ones for beginners and intermediates to hone their skills. That’s why I was overjoyed to discover a half-mile stretch of kayaking heaven in Spring City, Tennessee.
This natural section of the Piney River is a beginner/intermediate paradise and has fantastic access from the Cumberland Trail State Park. Starting at the confluence of Piney River and Soak Creek, there are four rapids that offer up great variety and opportunity to refine one’s skills: everything from eddies, ferries, and attainment moves to multiple places to surf and a big pool to practice your roll.
This section of the river is at its best when the flows are too low to run into Piney River proper or Soak Creek, making this a fun and manageable section, especially during winter and spring when flows are the lowest.
This section of the Piney River is adjacent to the Piney River Management Area of the Cumberland State Scenic Trail. You can walk your boat about 75 yards through the park upstream to the confluence, paddle the four rapids, then get out on river right in the big pool and follow the trail back to the picnic area and your car. It’s that easy.
Let’s dive into the four rapids that this stretch of river offers.
1. Rock Garden – This Class 2+ rapid is the longest and shallowest, giving it tons of eddies and multiple routes to choose to navigate. There is a fun attainment next to a pillow rock at the end of this rapid. This eddy line below the pillow rock offers a good spot for stern squirts.
2. The Diving Board - This little ledge offers ideal boof practice. With multiple options for ways to run the ledge you can try the smear boof on the right, the water boof in the middle, or sneak it to the left.
3. South Beach – South Beach offers great surfing with two different features. The first wave/hole is the bigger of the two and has quick eddy access on river right. At lower flows it offers up spins to the left and the right. The second wave is well suited to introduce surfing to new people as it has big eddy access and a pool right below it. This big pool is great for working on your roll or swimming. Look for the Take Out trail on the top river right of the pool.
4. Decapitator - This tight chute has an intimidating looking overhanging rock (the decapitator) at the top right and most of the water pushes around it not under it. The wave train created by the chute is perfect for practicing quick peel outs and eddy turns, and with eddies on both sides of the current it is great for surf ferries.
You don’t want to miss this hidden gem for kayaking. And with ample parking, you can hike, paddle, fish, and picnic all day in the park. See you out there!
Kayaking, Canoeing, Fishing, Photography
River/Creek (Up to Class II), Whitewater (Class III+)
Number of Portages:
There are no portages. You simply park in the parking lot and the river loops around it. It's all on river right.
Just use proper safety equipment.
The river is cold in the spring, so wear proper winter gear.
Class 2 and 3 rapids