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Sipsey River Wilderness in Alabama

Trip Overview


My friends and I are new to the world of kayaking and have only been to two places that are local to us in Birmingham (The Cahaba River, and Valley Creek) so we have been looking around (mainly on this website) for a new place to paddle. We narrowed it down to a few different places and decided to go with the Sipsey River. The pictures of the river and knowing it would be the most scenic trip is what hooked us.

While reading on, I read that the best time to do this river was the winter and spring seasons. Even after reading that I shook it off saying "that is the case with any river/creek in Alabama." So we kept the trip as planned and woke up Sunday morning around 7.00 a.m. and started loading our gear. The drive from Birmingham isn't a bad one at all. We left at 8:00 and arrived around 9:45. When we pulled up to the take-out bridge off Hwy 33 we were the only car there. Right away we took this as a bad sign.

We walked down to the water and thought that yeah it was low but could still be done. We left a car and headed for the put-in bridge. There were a few cars there but none that looked like they were carrying any kayaks or canoes. We asked a guy that was getting out of his car if we were at the right bridge to put-in and he said that we were. Then we asked if anybody kayaks the Sipsey in the summer. He took us down and showed us a marker that was under the bridge marking the water level. The marker went all the way up to 5 feet but the water wasn't even close to 1. He told us that it would probably be way more walking than paddling.

So since we didn't have overnight gear and had to be at work the next morning we decided not to risk it. We ended up driving back to the take-out bridge and just hanging out and eating our lunch. This was definitely a beginner mistake on our part! We should have tried to call somebody who could give us a water level or something!

None the less, we did enjoy what scenery we saw and are all agree that when the water is up we will try once again. Sorry there were no exciting paddling stories in this report but the reason I wrote it was to warn other beginners or anyone who may not be sure that unless a few major rains hit this river you will need to wait until the winter/spring. I hope this helps.


$3.00 Launch Fee


The Take-Out Bridge is marked by a public access sign off of Highway 33.

The Drop-Off Bridge is on CR 6 at the "Sipsey picnic area" and it has a public restroom.

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

Locations on this Trip