Hiwassee River (as it flows between Bradley and McMinn counties)

The Hiwassee River is the lifeblood of settlements in this area. Flowing from North Georgia, the 147-mile river is the first designated Scenic River in Tennessee and is dammed in three locations by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). It flows through the Cherokee National Forest and passes the sites of the Cherokee Agency and FortCass before converging with the Tennessee River in Meigs County. The Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge is located in the confluence area. At the Agency, villages settled on the banks of the river. Ferry crossings carried people and goods across the river. The Agency (similar to a US embassy to the Cherokee Nation) was a center for commerce and trade still attracting industries and development today. From Native Americans to industrial corporations and everyone between, the Hiwassee River is at the heart of this area’s stories.

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Latitude: 35.315125 Longitude: -84.794197 Elevation: 679 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Melissa Woody

Recreational Opportunities

Boating, Skiing, Fishing, Canoeing

Seasons Accessible

All seasons, water level varies.

How to Get There

From I-75, take exit 33 and turn east toward Charleston. Turn left (north) on US Hwy 11 and travel through Charleston. Continue over bridge to cross the Hiwasee or just before the bridge, turn right onto Water Street. Follow Water Street to the Charleston Boat Ramp, public access to the river and free parking.


My wife and I are avid flatwater kayak paddlers. We have paddled the entire length of the river from Reliance to the mouth of the river at Blythe Ferry. It is a beautiful river, full of watchable wildlife, great scenery, and is rich in history. It’s our favorite place to paddle in southeast Tennessee.

Gary Farlow, 3/1/2012

Gary, how long does it take for you to go from Reliance to Blythe Ferry? Are there any good camping spots? :)

Kelly, 5/28/2013

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