Sunday, July 17, 2011

Paddling the Hargrove Shoals Section of the Cahaba River

With enough summer rain this week to paddle any number of places, yesterday, Tyler and I paddled the Hargrove Shoals section of the Cahaba. This is the primary run from which you can enjoy the Cahaba Lilies from about mid-May to mid-June.

The put-in for the run is within the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge, at Piper Landing on River Trace Rd. The take-out is a little less than 7 miles downriver on County Road 26 at Pratt's Ferry Preserve. Each of these locations can be found on the Alabama Paddling Launch Sites map.

There are three sections of rapids along this run. For the first two, you should remain to the far left, for the best rapids. On the third, stay to the far right. When we ran the river, the Centreville gage was reading about 800cfs and falling quickly. We scraped a bit on shoals, but it was definitely runnable; never had to get out of the boat. The river would be optimal at 1000cfs+.

After the third section of rapids, you'll enter something of a gorge. From this point, the take-out is still more than a mile distant. The gorge is also the end of the national wildlife refuge; you cannot camp within the refuge's boundaries, but are able to anywhere after you enter the gorge section.

So here's the video of our venture.

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