Hiwassee River

This was our choice river for a first-time whitewater kayaking experience for our son, sporting his brand new PFD (having finally reached 50 lbs) and a brand new whitewater helmet, yay.

The class II run on the Hiwassee consists of six rapids in the II – II+ range. We used an outfitter at the bridge in Reliance (where all the outfitters are). It’s a short drive along the north side of the river to the put-in.

The rapids are fairly evenly spaced, they generally get bigger as you go down the river and the last two are by far the best if you hit them right. Funnels (the second to last) seems best to the left of all the sizeable islands, but then the rightmost of the channels in that gap. Devil’s Shoals – the final rapid just slightly above Reliance has a wonderful wave train on the far left side of the river underneath the overhanging trees.

Overall this is a great beginner river. There are people going down it in tubes — which happens everywhere these days — but this is probably a legit tubing river. There are a couple sections where the current is minimal though and without a paddle it could be a long float. We ran the five-mile section twice in one day, it took us about 80 minutes each time in no particular hurry.