Chickamauga, Cain Creeks Tennessee’s Most Recent State Scenic Rivers


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American Whitewater reports that North Chickamauga and Cain Creeks have become Tennessee’s most recent state Scenic Rivers, as of May 18, 2023.

According to AW’s Kevin Colburn, this state designation follows several other designations over the past few years on streams like Soak Creek and the Piney River. The designation effort was led by the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy and drew broad support from many groups, including American Whitewater. This state designation signals a bright future for these streams, which are home to classic whitewater runs.

The new designation came in the form of state legislation (HB150 and SB 127) introduced in January, which moved through the committee structures and was signed into law by the Governor in May. The designation covers 8.3 miles of the North Chickamauga Creek from the confluence with Hixson Branch downstream to the North Chickamauga Creek Gorge Visitor Access Center, and a segment of Cain Creek from the State land property line to the confluence with North Chickamauga Creek. These segments are home to the Cumberland Trail, exceptional whitewater paddling, hundreds of rock climbing routes, and significant ecological values.

This state designation is quite different from federal designation. It is, in its essence, a voluntary commitment by landowners to protect the values of the river through their management of the land and water. In a state with such exceptional rivers and so little federal land, it is an excellent tool to celebrate and commit to river protection. “Here at American Whitewater we would like to extend a big thank you to all the people that worked to secure this designation for such a beloved whitewater river,” says Colburn.

— Kevin Colburn

~ photo courtesy of Alex Zendel ~


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