A publication of Appalachian Voices


A publication of Appalachian Voices


Tennessee: Tellico River and Norris Lake

kayaker paddles over a ten foot waterfall

Laura Dillon, featured here, runs Baby Falls. Photo by Ruthie Norton.

Tellico River
Location: The Tellico River is approximately 60 miles from Knoxville and 90 miles from Chattanooga. The river primarily runs through Monroe County near Tellico Plains.
How to access: The aptly named River Road provides several access points. All the rapids on this river are within view of the road, which makes it easier for future paddlers to watch and see which routes through the rapids they should take — or whether they should portage their gear around the rapid instead.
Difficulty: Rapids on the Tellico range from Class II to IV. Although often described as friendly to beginner and intermediate paddlers, the river has waterfalls that present high risk if paddlers do not know how to navigate such features. It is highly recommended to be accompanied by an experienced river guide. Search the river on the American Whitewater website for specifics.
Fun Facts: An approximately 13-foot-tall waterfall on the river called “Baby Falls” often serves as a training site for paddlers learning to tackle waterfalls.
Local Champion: The Tellico River is a part of the Bald River watershed. To protect the area, a coalition of elected officials, business owners and outdoor enthusiasts pushed for the passing of the Tennessee Wilderness Act. In 2018, Congress passed the act as part of the Farm Bill, protecting more than 20,000 acres within the Cherokee National Forest including the Bald River watershed.
More info: The U.S. Forest Service offers maps and area guides for the Tellico River. Visit tinyurl.com/tellico-river — Sam Kepple

wide shot of the lake and dam

Photo by Steve Masters

Norris Lake
Location: Norris Lake spans portions of Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Grainger and Union Counties in Northeast Tennessee.
How to access: The lake is a part of Norris Dam State Park, which offers many access points, trails and other recreational areas. The lake also has several docks, marinas and resorts.
Difficulty: Norris Lake is a flatwater location, but caution is still needed as the lake can be very deep. Swimmers should also be aware of motorboats.
Fun Facts: Norris Lake was the first lake constructed by the Tennessee Valley Authority, created in 1934. The waters of Norris Lake reach over 800 miles of shoreline including dozens of islands.
Local Champion: Through their Go Green With Us program, Tennessee State Parks works to preserve parks through sustainable operations, resource conservation and recycling. Norris Dam State Park has achieved the program’s silver recognition level, meaning the park has met multiple environmental goals including education and outreach, water conservation, energy efficiency and sustainable waste and recycling. To learn more, visit tnstateparks.com/about/go-green-with-us
More info: For details visit tnstateparks.com/parks/norris-dam. — Sam Kepple


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2019 — June/July

2019 — June/July