Canoe Your Cares Away in Tennessee

Who knew it was this easy to get away from it all.

For me nothing can leave a work week of sitting in front of a computer behind like a canoe trip. Spotting the occasional great blue heron or water turtle, negotiating a playful rapid or just easing back through long pools of cool water, the keyboard chaos of my office is left miles behind.

East Tennessee, like much of the state, is blessed with a number of gorgeous, floatable rivers and streams. Regardless of where you live there seems always one less than an hour’s drive away.

I took a trip recently down the Little River out of the community of Wildwood. River John’s Outfitters is about a 20 minute drive from Knoxville or Maryville. River John Mollish has a beautiful, three-acre island in the Little River on which he has built some cabins, a gazebo and an arbor. He’ll rent out the whole place for family get-togethers, weddings, an occasional concert, etc. He also has a canoe rental  — that’s what I needed. So, I packed a picnic in a cooler and took the shuttle upstream. John’s son, Jon Michael, was the driver and he filled me in on the Little River.

“The headwaters are in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park which is why the water here is so clean,” Jon Michael said.  ”As far as the biology is concerned this is one of the most diverse rivers in the world. The Little River is home to about 85 species of fish.”

Once in the canoe, life turned beautiful. The river was down a little because of the long dry spell, but aside from a couple times when I had to get out and drag the canoe a short stretch, it was floatable.  Solving the riddle of which path to pursue through the various rapids is always fun, but it would have been even more entertaining had the river been up a few inches.

The wonderful scenery is always here. Old oaks, tulip poplar and maples bent their branches over the water granting shade on the hot day and allowing heron their choice of perches. Cliffs and small palisades cropped up from time to time holding small caves. Bright red and yellow wildflowers bowed in the breezes. A family of ducks swam past, quite indignant that I had encroached in their habitat. And, there is always the cool, relaxing sound of the rushing water.

Because the river is not that far in the boonies, I passed homes with expansive decks and fancy cane lawn chairs, smaller trailers that served as weekend hideaways with country songs blaring on the radio as well as some cow pastures and horse farms.

I ran into others enjoying the fun. A family played on a rock beach at one spot, young boys took their turns on a rope swing at another. No angry feelings here, all enjoying themselves.

Even though I took my time, turning a usual three-hour paddle into about five, it still ended too fast.

Hi! I’m Linda Lange. As a travel writer living in Knoxville, I fully appreciate barbecue, bluegrass and Dollywood. My...Read on

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