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). 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, 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 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|
|4.4||Emory River (16 miles)|
|12||Poplar Creek (14 miles)|
|12.0||East Fork (1.3 miles)|
|14||Gallaher ramp (TN 58)|
|17||Caney Creek (0.6 mile)|
|19.3||Pawpaw Creek (0.5 miles)|
|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)|
|32||Bearden Creek (1.2 miles)|
|35.5||Conner Creek putin|
|36.9||Melton Hill Park/ramps|
|37.5||Clark Center Park/ramp|
|39.6||Beaver Creek (1.8 miles)|
|41||Guinn Road 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|
|63.8||Dismal Gap ramp|
|66.3||TN 61 ramp|
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GPS/WGS84 waypoints (.gpx) for EasyGPS or send waypoints to Garmin GPS
Maptech waypoints (.mxf).
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). 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.
Below Melton Hill Dam, the Clinch flows into Watts Bar Lake (783 miles of shoreline). 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. 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.
Here are GPS tracks of paddling various sections of the Pellissippi Blueway.