Beginning in Tazewell, VA and flowing southwest through the Great Appalachian Valley down to Kingston, just west of Knoxville, where it joins the Tennessee River, the Upper Clinch River provides wide waterways that play host to numerous outdoor recreation activities. This is a mild but fast moving river with access points scattered along its entire length. Public access along the river is primarily limited to bridge crossings and small pull-offs along roads that parallel the river. There are several primitive launching areas for canoes or small boats and three developed launching areas managed by TWRA.
What Makes It Great
Once the river winds its way into Tennessee, the waters settle down as it continues its course through rising mountains to its merging with the Powell River. Now wider, the river continues toward Norris Dam. Once released from the dam, the Clinch's tailwater is accented by the pastoral setting of wooded ridges and pastures. A popular put-in is Solway Park in Oak Ridge, adjacent to Haw Ridge Park. Paddlers should be sure to check water levels before embarking on a trip down the Clinch since drought conditions can make passage of some stretches difficult.
The Clinch River is also one of Tennessee's premier warm water fishing resources. Below Norris Dam lies 13 miles of tail waters stocked with rainbow and brown trout that make for some of the finest trout fishing in the state, while also providing good fishing for smallmouth bass, rock bass, white bass, crappie, and walleye. Above the Weir Dam, fishermen in boats can find deeper water in which to fish. The section below the Weir Dam provides the more shallow cascading water preferred by fly fishermen in waders. It's a challenging river to fly fish, demanding a stealthy approach, delicate presentation, small flies and drag-free drifts.
Who is Going to Love It
The calm, class I-II waterways of the Clinch River make this destination ideal for beginner paddlers and those just looking for a nice relaxing day on the water. The 50+ miles of floatable river make for ideal 2-3 days paddling trips.