The Hiwassee River Blueway in Southeast Tennessee is one of our favorite rivers for family-friendly whitewater fun. Located within the heart of the Cherokee National Forest, the river’s Class II and III rapids offer a day’s worth of river fun in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Outfitters on the Hiwassee River rent funyaks, rafts and tubes on the whitewater section of the river from Memorial Day through Labor Day (seven days a week) and on Saturdays through October. Webb Brothers Float Service and Hiwassee Outfitters, both located along the river in Reliance, Tenn., provide shuttle service upriver to an access point just below the Appalachia Powerhouse.
The 5-mile float from Appalachia Powerhouse to the take-out in Reliance features six sections of rapids (Class I and II) mixed with relaxing stretches of flatwater. It’s a great experience for adventurous kids who are (on average) six years and older and able to swim. Coast Guard-approved PFDs are required for adults and children on the upper section of the Hiwassee River.
“The Hiwassee is very popular with beginners because each set of rapids has a pool below it,” says Harold Webb, president of Webb Brothers Float Service, which has been outfitting folks with rafts and tubes on the Hiwassee River in Southeast Tennessee since 1969. “The safest and most secure watercraft is a raft because it is highly unusual that they will turn over. If you have teenagers and they are outdoorsy and athletic, then the funyak is the best choice.”
The self-guided trip takes about 2.5 hours. Lifejackets are required by law, and alcohol, glass and Styrofoam are prohibited on the river.
Stay the weekend along the banks of the Hiwassee River at Gee Creek Campground, part of the Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park. The campground has a bathhouse with sinks, commodes and hot showers. Hiwassee Outfitters also offers camping along the waterway. Another local option is Lost Creek Cabins in Reliance.
The Delano Farmers Market, a Mennonite farmers market, is open seasonally Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The market is located at 283 Needle Eye Lane, just across Hwy. 411 in Delano. (Please refrain from taking photos at the market – doing so infringes on this community’s religious beliefs.)
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