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Trip Length: 6.7 Miles, Four hours at a leisurely pace.
Dam at Water Treatment plant about 1.75 to 2 miles from put in.
Dam at take out at Nice Mill (Pronounced Nicy)
Nature of this section of the river:
The West Fork of the Stones River, as its name implies, is a rock lined stream with some silting from upstream farming activity. It varies from fairly clear to murky depending on recent weather conditions. It is runnable most times of the year. On this trip, water conditions and levels were excellent.
Mile 0-2: If you look to the left bank of the river in the first quarter mile of the trip, you will see a rock wall where 18,000 soldiers fell during the Battle of Stones River during the Civil War. For the first two miles of the trip, we looped through residential neighborhoods on the left bank before we entered more pastoral and then wooded terrain. The river roughly parallels US 41 and traffic noises can be heard on this stretch. The homes along the river are high-end, well tended properties and don’t detract from the beauty of the river. There are some riffles in this area, but we encountered no hazards on our trip.
Mile 2-4: Once you pass the first highway bridge over the river, there is very little evidence of human encroachment for the remainder of the trip. You need to be aware of a low dam near a water treatment plant on the left bank. You will see a water tower on the left as you approach this hazard. The center of the dam is broken and runnable. DO NOT GO RIGHT OR LEFT, as you will get hung up. Wildlife was abundant on this stretch of the river. We saw numerous Mallard pairs and a number of Great Blue Herons. We discovered a snapping turtle hatchling, about the size of a silver dollar, floating in the river that appeared to be dead. When Gregg put it on this deck, it sprang to life and quickly found its way back to the river. There are stretches of very calm water, mixed with class one and two raffles/rapids.
Mile 4-6.7: This was my favorite part of the river, as there are numerous class two rock gardens and little evidence of people. The wildlife here is abundant. We saw three northern river otters entering the river on the right bank. A large bird that resembled an eagle or an osprey led us down the river for the last four miles. We stopped on a gravel bar and marveled at the variety and number of muscle shells in the river. They ranged in size from ½ to 5 inches across. At about mile 5, we encountered two class two rapids that we fun and challenging to negotiate. Just below, we discovered a spring entering the river from a small cave on the left bank. Overall Creek enters the river on your left, just below the cave. There are several riffles below the confluence of Overall Creek. As you near Nice Mill, the elevation of the left bank levels out and you will see old hand laid rock walls, that probably date from the time on slavery. After a long stretch of flat water, the river bends to the right and you will see the Sulphur Springs Rd Bridge. The take out is just below on the right. A five foot dam crosses the river here, with a large breech on the right hand side. You want to scout this before running. On our trip, it was runnable, but you have to be very careful of the kids in the river just below the dam, as this is a very popular spot for swimming and fishing. During the entire trip, we saw no other boats on the river.
From Greenway left on Thompson back to US 41 light( Broad Street ) Right. Go about four miles, pass under 840 to traffic light just past cemetery. Turn Right on Florence Rd and go 1 mile to first right. Turn right on Sulphur Springs Rd, cross over river and park in the lot on the east side of the River.
Nice Mill Army Corps of Engineering Park site on Sulphur Spring Road. Park on East Side of the River in the parking lot.
"Canoeing & Kayaking Guide to the Streams of Tennessee" by Bob Sehlinger and Bob Lantz.
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