published Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Chattanooga: We can look to paddling sites in absence of RV show


by Dan Cook

So there’s no Chattanooga RV Show to ease the winter doldrums for outdoorsmen?

Mike Kent of Mike Kent Productions, who has for the last several years promoted the show, said nine out of 10 dealers who normally showcase motorhomes, travel trailers and other products there said they wouldn’t be able participate in 2009. So he canceled it for the year but is holding a slot for it on his 2010 calendar.

The Chattanooga Boat Show is still on, scheduled for next Thursday through Feb. 1 at the Chattanooga Convention Center. And there are local warm-weather plans to keep us going through the cold times.

For one thing, more padding than ever is planned for Chattanooga this year.

“We’re moving to the old floor-covering building next to Coolidge Park,” Outdoor Chattanooga director Philip Grymes said, “and we’re planning on doing regularly scheduled downtown kayak trips during the months of June and July.”

These are planned for 10 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, he said.

“It will be about a twohour experience,” Grymes noted, “up around Maclellan Island, by the waterfront and coming back.”

Plans call for having a couple of instructors, so neophytes shouldn’t feel overwhelmed.

Education about the area will be included.

“There will be narratives on the Walnut Street Bridge, Bluff View area, Ross’s Landing and the Tennessee River itself,” Grymes said.

“Clean Kayak” is another program in the works. It is likely to be scheduled once a week, Grymes said, with participants invited to use the kayaks at the new Outdoor Chattanooga center in picking up trash on the river.

The center itself will be an attraction. It will include a classroom for clinics, meeting rooms and a large open space with information and interactive displays, and it will be available for groups to rent.

“One of the displays will be a 40-by-8-foot climbing wall,” Grymes said. “We plan to have a resource library for people as they plan trips and think of new things to do.”

Canoeing and kayaking activities will continue as usual at the city’s Greenway Farm.

One other site for paddlers to consider is the Toccoa River Canoe Trail near Blue Ridge, Ga. Offering 13.8 miles of easy paddling, it begins at the Deep Hole Recreation Area and ends at Sandy Bottoms. River flow is usually 3-4 miles per hour.

Since some of it flows through private land, fishermen and others who float it must have landowner permission to go ashore in those particular portions. Forest service boundaries are marked and posted, however, so visitors will know when it’s OK to rest on the banks without permission.

Modern launching and take-out areas have been established, and beginning canoeists should be able to handle the trip easily.

E-mail Dan Cook at ChattaDan@aol.com

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