Upper Tallapoosa River - 6 Days - Heflin to Alex City

by  LepreSean

A self-supported trip created by LepreSean

Trip Overview

Put in at Tallapoosa River Outfitters in Heflin, parked a car there. Parked a second car where we took out at Alexander City boat ramp at the north end of Lake Martin. Total trip is something over 100 river miles, not really sure. Took 2 canoes, 4 total people with some lake paddling experience, but no river or overnight experience. Rapids were very doable in our overloaded canoes. Only had to get out and walk because of shoals. We learned on the last day that the shoals had been mapped out and there are all sorts of useful tips for where to go to save a whole bunch of time. This trip is part of the Alabama Scenic River Trail with some amount of designated campsites. We did not find these "campsites" to be conveniently situated and only ended up staying at one, which was on a big slope with no clear ground large enough for our tent. Generally we just did our very best to be discrete. Most of the river is fairly remote, so this wasn't really a problem. We didn't have too much trouble navigating rapids despite having now idea what we were doing at the start. The difficulty of the rapids might have generally increased as the trip went on. Most of the rapids were not a big deal at all, though some certainly require a bit of confidence. Our only bad rapids experience was just after launching after the dam when the water was still rising rapidly and moving fast, making it difficult to see some sneaky rocks. We saw several blue herons, bald eagles, a family of river otters, a few beavers, and many cows. Wildlife viewing was better the earlier we got out on the river. Would definitely recommend as an intro trip or for folks looking for something relatively simple and fun.

Safety Notes

Call the dam operators. Watch out for powerboats on the big lakes.

Gear Notes

Just got two old canoes and hit the river. Had a few dry bags but only used them for food. Should have put more ice in the cooler.


The river was quite lovely. Rapids were manageable (see main text). It only rained on the last day which was awesome. Canoeing across the lake on the 4th of July required some caution due to water-skiers and the like.

Portage Notes

1/2 mile portage around the Harris Dam. It was fine. I would recommend having the number of the dam operator before you go so you know when the water will be released and how much of it.

Trip Details

  • Trip Dates: 7/2/2020-7/7/2020
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water, River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Number of Portages: 1

Trip Location