Southeast Tennessee is a land dominated by rivers, and the Hiwassee River is a family favorite when it comes to whitewater fun. Located within the Cherokee National Forest, the river’s Class II and III rapids offer adventures in rafting, funyaks, tubing and beginning whitewater instruction.
Outfitters on the Hiwassee River operate on a regular schedule from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. 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 (ranging from Class I to Class III, depending on water levels) 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.
“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.”
Summer days are the best time to experience the chilly Hiwassee River- and be prepared to get wet. 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, a tent-friendly family campground that is part of the Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park. Pack up the tent and the kids’ bikes and you’re set for a weekend of outdoor family fun. The campground has a bathhouse with sinks, commodes and hot showers. Hiwassee Outfitters also offers camping along the waterway.
Pick up fresh fruit, veggies and baked goods at the Delano Farmers Market, operated by members of a local Mennonite community, 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.)
If you don’t feel like cooking, stop by for a delicious lunch or dinner at Stadium BBQ, located on Hwy. 411 at the turn to Gee Creek Campground. This Cleveland-based restaurant is the bomb when it comes to Southern barbeque, homemade potato chips and fried pies.
Learn more by visiting this website about the Hiwassee River.