Located just 35 miles from downtown Knoxville, it takes about an hour to get from door to put in on most sections of the Little River. While the stretches meandering through Townsend are mellow and mostly known for lazy river tubing, the gradient and topography changes drastically as you venture further into the park.
What Makes It Great
The stretch dubbed "Sinks to Elbow" gives whitewater paddlers a taste of quintessential Smoky Mountain paddling. It is also one of the most dependable creeks in the area when it comes to flow; during the rainy season it is usually the first to come up and the last to drop out. Depending on paddling experience, you can either put in upstream of the Meanies and the Sinks for a solid class III /IV kickstart to the run, or opt for the ten foot seal launch below the Sinks (which is still enjoyable and a definite crowd pleaser). After a busy three miles of class III whitewater navigating the rapids of Silver Diner, Eddy Out, Airplane Turn, Bottoms Up, Tunnel, and finally the Elbow; you use a small pull off on the roadside for a take out. This section of the Little will get you hooked on the beauty and constant boogie of Smoky Mountain whitewater, and is under an hour's drive from downtown. A definite must run for paddlers wanting to test mountain waters and take an adventure in the National Park. The run only takes about 1-1.5 hours, which makes it awesome for quick laps before or after work as well.
Who is Going to Love It
The Little River has water for paddlers of all skill levels.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Check out this map for directions to the put in and a map of the route.