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Sipsey River Wilderness in Alabama

Trip Overview

Sipsey Fork - Bankhead National Forest

I was on a Wilderness System Tarpon 120 Kayak. I have used it a lot on the lake but not so much on moving water. It worked out great. It maneuvered well and I was able to carry extra gear in case we needed it.

I scouted this trip out over the last year. Early spring is definitely the time to do this trip. If the water level is below 4 feet, you will be dragging some. Late in the summer the stream will just about dry up.

On Thursday night, a storm came through and the water level went from 4.5 feet to 12 feet over night. The water level came down on Friday and when we put in on Saturday morning at 10:00 it was at 8 feet. Usually the water is really clear but was still a little muddy at 8 feet.

About a half mile in, I tried to navigate under a huge tree that had fallen across the creek. I misjudged how low it was and got dumped trying to go under. Man, the water was cold but the sun was out and it was pleasant all day.

There is one area called the 100 yard dash that provided challenging white water. With the water at the 8 foot level, we almost decided to pull the kayaks out and go around but we put our big boy britches on went through without any problems. We didn't get dumped and it was a blast.

This was a beautiful scenic trip, with huge bluffs towering over you from both sides. It was well worth it to stop and take in the huge waterfalls where other streams were feeding the Sipsey.

If you do this trip, paddle up the feeder streams. That is where a lot of the waterfalls could be seen. Once you start this trip you are committed for 10 to 11 miles.

There were others putting in behind us but we didn't see anyone all day after that. We did the occasional stops to see the water falls and to eat and then pulled out at the next bridge about 5 hours later.


The Sipsey Picnic area has restroom accommodations and good parking.


There is a place to pay $3.00 per car per day at the Sipsey Picnic Area.


From Moulton, AL take Hwy. 33 South into Bankhead Forest. Take a right on paved County Road 6. Go 4 miles to the Bridge at the Sipsey Picnic Area. Put in here. The take out is about 8 miles further south on Hwy.33 at the bridge.


Sipsey Picnic Area


Go by the store at the intersection of Hwy.33 and Hwy.36 at Wren on the North end of the Forest. Great books, maps and information about the forest and the streams.

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip