Pellissippi Blueway

blueway map

The proposed Pellissippi Blueway provides over 50 miles of flatwater paddling along the Pellissippi/Clinch River. (The name Pellissippi is the historic Native American name for the Clinch River and means "winding waters".) Much of the 173 miles of shoreline of Melton Hill Lake is undeveloped with numerous coves, islands, and navigable creeks. The river passes several limestone bluffs through the valley and ridge region of East Tennessee. The 20 miles of river between the Pellissippi Bridge and Melton Hill Dam is designated as a Tennessee state scenic river. The 38 miles of the north shore of the Clinch are undeveloped (DOE reservation) from Brashears Island (mile 10) to Edgemoor Bridge (mile 48). Melton Hill dam is at mile 23.2 The Oak Ridge rowing venue is at mile 50.

The paddler is likely to see osprey, blue heron, comorants, Canada geese, ducks, owls, kingfishers, egrets, bald eagles, beaver, otter, muskrat, and deer. The fisherman can find bluegill, muskie, saugeye, perch, trout, catfish, crappie, walleye, and a variety of bass (see sport fishing index). The forest is mostly oak and poplar with some pine and cedar. Various wildflowers are visible along the shore.

There are many access points to the blueway (yellow pins on blueway map) including the Gibbs Ferry Park, Oak Ridge Marina, Solway Park, Bullrun Creek, Guinn Road Park, Clark Center Park, Melton Hill Park, Melton Hill Dam, Hickory Creek Park, White Wing Bridge (TN 95), and Gallaher Bridge (TN 58). Gasoline is available at a dock near the Pellissippi Bridge. There is sometimes a mild current if either Norris or Melton Hill Dam is releasing water ( TVA release info). Summer pool for Melton Hill Lake is 795' (Watts Bar 741', Norris 1020'). Winter pool for Watts Bar is 737', for Norris it is 997'. Melton Hill is lowered to 791' the last week in March for cleanup.

Points of Interest
The following map and table list some of the points of interest. Mile reference is to river mileage from confluence of Clinch and the Tennessee River (see maps below). Click on name in table to see location on Google map. You can also click on the map below and popup a zoomed in Google map or try the clickable Google map (terrain/topo/image).

River Mile Description
0 Tennessee River
0.7 58 ramp
1.3 Kingston ramp
4.4 Emory River (14 miles)
4.5 Ladd Landing ramp
4.7 Kingston Arch
9.8 Brashear Island
11 Campbell Bend
12 Poplar Creek (14 miles)
12.0 East Fork (1.3 miles)
13.7 wetlands
14 Gallaher ramp (TN 58)
17 Caney Creek (0.6 mile)
18.4 Grubb Islands
19.3 Pawpaw Creek (0.5 miles)
20 Jones Island
21.8 VandenBulck ramp (TN 95)
23.2 Melton Lake Dam/Park/ramp
25 Hope Creek (1.3 miles)
28.1 Hickory Creek Park/ramp (0.8 miles)
30.3 Stubbs Bluff
32 Bearden Creek (1.2 miles)
33.2 Shephard Island
35.5 Conner Creek putin
36.8 Bull Bluff
36.9 Melton Hill Park/ramps
37.5 Clark Center Park/ramp
39 Hewitt Bluff
39.6 Beaver Creek (2.1 miles)
39.9 Cactus Cliff/Arch
41 Guinn Road Park/ramp
43.5 Gas/dock
44 Solway Park/ramp
45.3 Haw Ridge Park (picnic tables)
46.3 Bullrun Creek ramp (6 miles)
50.2 Marina/ramp rowing greenway
51.5 Lost Ridge Bluff
53.3 Gibbs Ferry Park/ramp
53.9 Lost Bottom Park/ramp
58.7 Clinton Marina/ramp
60.2 Clinton Island
62.0 Alton Island
62.7 Picnic tables
63.8 Dismal Gap ramp
66.3 TN 61 ramp

click on map :


Printer friendly page of map and table.

GPS waypoints
GPS/WGS84 waypoints (.gpx) for EasyGPS or send waypoints to Garmin GPS
Maptech waypoints (.mxf).


Public camping is available at Melton Hill Dam and Soaring Eagle ("roaring interstate") campground on Caney Creek. We hope to have primitive canoe campsites available in Haw Ridge Park and Knox County's Melton Hill Park. TVA has a primitive camping area at Johnson Creek (mile 9.2) and at Shephard Island (mile 33.7). We are still investigating where one can canoe camp on TVA land (e.g., near Beaver Creek, Hickory Bend (mile 27), and Jones Island). There are picnic tables here in Haw Ridge Park. Things to be done include signage and canoe/kayak access sites.

A canoe-only access near Melton Hill Park is here off of Williams Road. An interesting side trip is to paddle through the K-25 site on Poplar Creek (mile 12), launch from putin. Also East Fork of Poplar Creek is a short (1.3 miles, one-way) scenic paddle, with a primitive canoe launch here off of Blair Road. Click on the "Topo" map-type for more detail or visit GPS track. In addition to the ramp on Bull Run Creek (creek mile 1.9), there is a canoe-launch at creek mile 3.4, see map.

Below Melton Hill Dam, the Clinch flows into Watts Bar Lake (783 miles of shoreline). There are ramps along the Emory River (14 miles): Harriman, Harriman N, Little Emory (3.5 miles), and Sugar Grove. ( new ramp and two canoe launches at Swan Pond Rd recovery area) With the confluence with the Tennessee River, the Pellissippi blueway connects to Kingston, Harriman, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Ohio River (568 miles), .... Memphis, .... New Orleans.

Upstream from Oak Ridge, the blueway passes Lost Bottom Park ramp (mile 53.9), Clinton marina (mile 58.7), Clinton Island (mile 60.2), Aulton Island (mile 62), Picnic area (mile 63), Dismal Gap ramp (mile 63.8), Hwy 61 ramp (mile 66.3) across from the Eagle Bend fish hatchery. Upstream are Peach Orchard ramp (mile 73.5), Miller Island ramp (mile 77.1), canoe access (mile 78.8), Norris Dam (mile 79.8). The portion of the river below Norris Dam to highway 61 is moving water and is best navigated when the dam is discharging. Beware of the weir dam. See GPS track of canoe float from Miller Island below dam to Highway 61.

Above the dam, Norris Lake (1020') covers 34,000 acres with 800 miles of shoreline and 18 islands (Island F is the largest, mile 113, 36.302812,-83.835638). The confluence of the Powell River and the Clinch occurs at the Chuck Swan WMA ( mile 89). Points of interest include TVA small wild areas Hemlock Bluff ( mile 96.5) and Beech Island ( mile 120) Flatwater on the Clinch extends to mile 150, and moving water on the Clinch extends to mile 201 at the VA line. This is mostly Class I river with some Class II water upstream of Kyles Ford (190). Another 112 miles of navigable river runs through VA (the Upper Pellissippi Blueway).

There are 56 miles of flatwater on the Powell River, including Stiner's Woods small wild area ( mile 30.5), Monks Corner ( mile 27.5), and Helms Ferry ( mile 30.8), an active auto ferry! Above the lake you can paddle the Powell River (class I) from River View ( mile 65.5) to Minton Mill ( mile 54.6 ). The Powell exits VA at mile 115.5.

Paddle Tracks
Here are GPS tracks of paddling various sections of the Pellissippi Blueway.

Two trip reports of fall paddle above Melton Lake Dam and summer paddle Haw Ridge Park to Melton Hill Park. August 2014 trip report

Related Information

since 9/14/03
Last modified: Mon, 17 Mar 2014 14:49:22 -0600 Tom Dunigan TNlandforms.US