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Black Warrior River - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip

Report Type: Day Trip Report
Trip Dates: May 31, 2006
Nearest City: Birmingham, AL
Difficulty: Easy
Submitted by: Tom

Description:

Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River

I used my Necky sky kayak as it fits easily in the back of my Toyota truck. My wife dropped me off after work below the highway 31 bridge about 5:30 I figured it was a 6-7 mile paddle and that I'd be out before dark.

The first hour was very peaceful and there were a lot of fish in the shallow water. The river here is like a series of lakes with easy rapids there were only about 6 rapids in this section and they were easy at this low water stage. Only one rapid had enough waves to splash a little water into the cockpit.

I grossly underestimated the distance and it took until about 10PM to finish the float. Plan for about 5-6 hours and since it is mostly flatwater with little current plan on paddling. It is reasonably scenic and would make a great fishing trip. I plan to return with my flyrod using my aluminum canoe and may even bring the outboard.

There were no homes on the water and I didn't see anyone. There are some mines and you can hear the equipment and the traffic at times from I-65. There are a lot of trees in the water and this is the biggest hazard.

I realized that I was in trouble when I didn't see some landmarks after about an hour. I had paddled up and floated back from the lower end of this section. I started paddling hard and was pretty nervous as it started getting dark. I ran the only significant rapid just before dark and it was easy.

After dark I paddled using a cresent moon for light. There was not enough light to really see much I just knew that if there was a smooth reflection I wouldn't run into anything. Beavers scared me a couple of times as they would come within a few yards and loudly slap their tails.

Despite my very poor planning this trip ended without incident except that my wife was worried. I would have preferred having a paddling buddy, and I don't recommend paddling alone. Don't paddle a new section unless you are sure there is enough time.

Accommodations:

plenty of motels

Fees:

no fees

Directions:

Drive north from Birmingham, AL on Interstate 65 and exit 275. Turn right and you will soon see Highway 31. Turn left and after a couple of miles you will cross the river. The access is very steep on the south side of the bridge on the right facing south. My 4 wheel drive truck had no problems but a 2 wheel drive might.
The take out is the bridge on Mount Olive road. Take I-65 north and exit 272 and go west about 12 miles. When you cross the bridge turn left and there is a launching ramp under the bridge. It is paved, but narrow and steep.


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