Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park

Quick Facts

Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park

Tennessee

(423) 263-0050

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River Park was the first river managed in the State Scenic River program. A 23-river mile section, from the North Carolina state line to U.S. Highway 411 just north of Benton, has been declared a Class III partially developed river. This stretch of river offers opportunities for canoeing, rafting, fishing, hiking, and nature photography. A scenic portion of the John Muir Trail winds through the river gorge. Numerous public access sites provide boat-launching ramps. At the Gee Creek Campground, picnic areas, sanitary facilities, and primitive camping are available. Adjacent is the Gee Creek Wilderness, which is part of the Cherokee National Forest. The Ocoee River is a premier white-water river in the Southeastern United States, with Class III, IV, and V rapids. Access sites are maintained. The 1996 Olympic canoe and kayak slalom events were held at the Ocoee River, and each year thousands of visitors come year-round to try out the rapids.

Map of Hiwassee/Ocoee (TN)

Latitude, Longitude: 35.212527, -84.599533

READ MORE

Activities

  • Boating

    This 23-mile stretch of river has been declared a Class III partially developed river and offers opportunities for canoeing and rafting. Based on the International Scale of river difficulty, the Hiwassee State Scenic River is primarily Class I (moving water with small waves and a few obstructions) and Class II (easy rapids with wide, clear channels; some maneuvering required). Certain sections may be considered Class III (rapids with high waves capable of swamping an open canoe; requires complex maneuvering).

    The Middle Ocoee is an almost continuous whitewater experience from the put-in at Rogers Branch until the take-out at Caney Creek. The flow level can vary between 1200 and 1800 cubic feet per second. The whitewater section from the wooden diversion dam to Ocoee No. 2 Powerhouse has an average drop of 54 feet per mile and is considered a Class III and IV river. Rafting this section of the river takes approximately two hours.

    The Upper Ocoee River experience begins at Ocoee Number 3 Dam, where the river runs parallel with the historic Old Copper Road. This section of the river provides Class II whitewater and seclusion in the wilderness. The whitewater excitement continues with the thrilling Olympic whitewater section of the Ocoee River, which has Class IV whitewater, including the famous "Humongous" rapid. The minimum age for going on the Ocoee is 12 years old.

  • Camping

    The Hiwassee State Scenic Rivers' Gee Creek campground is a haven and a home-away-from-home for many river users. Campsites are very tent-friendly. There is a large open field that serves as overflow to the 47 campsites. Some of the campsites are close enough to the river for visitors to be lulled to sleep each night by the sound of rushing water. An easy walk leads campers along the river's edge for fishing, nature walks, or a brisk dip in the cold waters. Gee Creek primitive campground has 47 sites, each with a table, fire ring, and a grill. Public water and a bathhouse containing sinks and hot showers are located near the center of the campground. Campsites are provided on a first come, first-served basis, and there is a fee for their use. No reservations can be accepted and stay limit is two weeks.

    Tent camping is permitted along most of the John Muir Trail above the Appalachia Powerhouse.

  • Fishing

    The Hiwassee is a popular fishing stream and anglers of all ages enjoy fine catches of large-mouth bass, yellow perch, catfish, and brown and rainbow trout. The latter two species are stocked by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. There is no park fee for fishing on the Hiwassee in the State Park, but state fishing rules apply. There are some parking areas along the Hiwassee in the Cherokee National Forest that require a parking fee. Commercial guide services are available.

  • Hiking

    The park has a 1-mile hiking trail loop that goes around the campground and along the Hiwassee River. There are also several hiking trails in the Cherokee National Forest, which is adjacent to the state park's Gee Creek campground.

  • Horseback Riding

    Horses are not allowed in the state park. The Cherokee National Forest, operated by the U.S. Forest Service, contains many miles of foot and equestrian trails that meander through the wilds of the Hiwassee and Cherokee National Forest. Unless otherwise designated, trails are for foot use only. Horseback riding trails are marked by a sign with a horse and rider silhouette.

  • Picnicking

    Many picnic areas are scattered along the Hiwassee River. Most have tables and grills and have access to drinking water and restrooms. Picnickers are encouraged to leave their picnic sites cleaner than they found them. The Sugarloaf Picnic Area is open year-round for day use. It has ten picnic tables with grills, restrooms, a volleyball court, canoe and fishing access, a short walking path, and a scale replica of the 1996 Olympic whitewater section of the Ocoee River. Sugarloaf is located at Ocoee Dam Number 1.

Seasonality/Weather

The park is open year-round. Visitors enjoy floating and kayaking on the river throughout the entire year. Summer temperatures range from the high 80s to the mid-60s. Winter temperatures range from 50 F to the mid-20s.

Park Partners

Ocoee Whitewater Center

The Ocoee Whitewater Center (OWC) site was constructed for the purpose of holding the 1996 Olympic Canoe and Kayak Slalom competitions. Since the Olympic events, the Ocoee Whitewater Center has evolved into a highly visible and much used venue. Touted by athletes as having the best whitewater course in the world, the OWC hosts both national and international whitewater competitions on the 500-meter course. As part of the National Forest system, the Ocoee Whitewater Center is managed by the Forest Service as a multiple use recreational and educational complex.

Consisting of a four-acre recreation area, the OWC offers water play, picnicking, hiking, biking, a nature-oriented gift shop, environmental education programs, a 7,200 sq. ft. visitor center, year-round special events, and provides the playground for whitewater rafting and kayaking. Hosting approximately 300,000 visitors each year, the OWC is a favorite spot for those who wish to take advantage of these activities or just sit back and relax and watch these activities occur around them.

(423) 496-0100

Directions

Driving

From Chattanooga take I-75 North to Cleveland/US-64 E. Exit 20. Travel East on Bypass to US-64/74. Follow East to Hwy 411 North.Park is located 6 miles North of Benton.

From Knoxville take I-75 South to Calhoun, Exit 36. Follow State Park signs to Hwy 163. Take Hwy 163 14 miles to Hwy 411. Take Hwy 411 South 1/2 mile to Spring Creek Rd. Turn Left on Spring Creek Rd for 1 mile.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(423) 263-0050

Campground reservations

(423) 263-0050

Links