Paddlin’ on the Duck River

Leah and Kathy on the Duck River

Leah and Kathy on the Duck River

We stopped at Subway for sandwiches, put them in the cooler, then drove out Lewisburg Pike, or Highway 431, rural countryside — pasturelands with horses and cows and old, rickety barns — until it intersected with Highway 99. There was River Rats, where we put in. We, ten of us, paddled nine miles, four hours, down a gentle stretch of the Duck River that flows between lush tree-lined banks, tall bluffs, and rocky cliffs in Maury County. We rolled down the river in three canoes and three kayaks.

Sun, shade, and white limestone bluffs

Sun, shade, and white limestone bluffs

This is part of a 37-mile stretch of the river that was recently designated a State Scenic River, beginning at Iron Bridge Road near Columbia and extending upstream to the Maury/Marshall County line. The Duck is one of the most biologically rich and diverse rivers in North America. It has over 500 documented species, including aquatic plants, fish, and invertebrates. It contains 39 muscle and 84 fish species.

Whitewater!!!

Whitewater!!!

Splash!!

Splash!!

All sorts of shells line the bank and fill the bottom of the river. We saw two snakes, one curled up along a thin branch of a little tree at the water’s edge. Leah commented that their defense mechanism was to jump in the boat if it came close. “Don’t paddle close to little trees on the bank,” I replied. We saw wildflowers such as foamflower and bamboo grass, we noted caves in the limestone bluffs, and there were sycamores and rope swings along the way. We stopped halfway down our course and ate a picnic lunch on the stony banks.

Getting ahead of the kayaks

Getting ahead of the kayaks

The Duck is 270 miles long, the longest river contained entirely within the borders of Tennessee.

Smooth sailing!

Smooth sailing!

Toward the end of our nine-mile trip, I was tired from the sun beating down on me and my arms were aching. We were all looking for Carpenter Bridge just around every bend.

Take out at Carpenter Bridge

Take out at Carpenter Bridge

It was an awesome day on the water!

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