The Fourth Annual Blue Buns Hiwassee Tubing/Kayaking Trip!

It's back! The Fourth Annual Blue Buns Hiwassee Tubing/Kayaking Trip! So make your plans for Memorial Day weekend and kickoff the summer with fun in the water by tubing or Kayaking the Hiwassee River in Tennessee. For those of you who don't know the Hiwassee River is the next major waterway north of the Ocoee River. Like the Ocoee it is dammed and controlled by TVA. But unlike the Ocoee, the Hiwassee provides for fun with class I and II rapids which make it perfect for tubing and for beginner kayaking. This is not white water rafting.

I've been doing this for many years with friends from Chattanooga and I'm pleased to again open it up to OCS in Chattanooga, Atlanta, and Huntsville. I'm hoping for our best year yet in 2013. On Friday Night and after the tubing on Saturday there will be an option to camp out at Chillhowie Campground. This will be a separate event on the calendar.

DAY: Saturday May 25th (This is Memorial Day weekend. Hopefully you get Monday off!)

MEETING PLACE: Meet between 10:00 and 10:30 AM at Hiwassee Outfitters lot (not the State Park Parking lot - go under the railroad track). We will gather at the picnic tables in front of the Bathhouse and store.

LOCATION: Lat 35.1874, Lon. -84.4970 115 Ellis Creek Rd, Reliance, TN 37369

COST: $20 dollars to rent a tube. Other types of floats are available - see other prices atthe Hiwassee Outfitter site.

The river is about a 1 hour drive from Chattanooga and about a three hour drive from Atlanta. There is a store at the Outfitters for last minute essentials but try to make your preparations and load up your car the night before. Set Your Alarm! And have something to eat for Breakfast.

CARPOOL/CARAVAN INFO: Due to the camp out afterward many people will be going up early (some the night before) to get a campsite. So at this time there are no plans for a carpool or caravan. If you need help with directions or would like to ask for a ride please post your request in the comments.

Here is what else you need to know about this trip:

What you will need:

REQUIRED: Life jacket. State Park regulations require the wearing of a life jacket at all times on the Hiwassee. If you do not have one you will have to borrow or rent one. If you are renting a tube from the outfitters it will come with a life jacket.

REQUIRED: A float of some kind. You can go down in a number of ways: A Tube, A Small raft (4-6 person), A kayak (sit on top, regular, or inflatable). If you don't have any of these you can rent them from Hiwassee Outfitters

If you are renting please call and get a reservation for a tube and shuttle ride for between from 10:30 to 11:00.

You can bring your own float or tube. If you choose to bring your own it should not be just any pool float because there are some sharp rocks what will make short work of your average pool lounge. It needs to be a heavy duty tube of the 40 to 50 gauge PVC type preferably with a nylon cover. The traditional black rubber truck tire inner tubes will work but the best kind are the tubes that are designed to be towed behind a speed/ski boat and have a nylon cover.

REQUIRED: Bathing suit and or shorts. Women may want to wear trunks/shorts over a one piece or two piece bottoms. A tee shirt of some kind is usually good as well (the water is chilly why do you think we call it the Blue Bunns?). But if you have a shirt made from a synthetic fabric I would highly recommend that you wear it instead of cotton.

REQUIRED: Water shoes that are snug on your feet (i.e. Keen’s, Chacos, Tevas, etc.) or at least some old sneakers. This is not optional. If you do not wear shoes, the rocks will cut up your feet. They can be sharp!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: A short rope or nylon strap that is about 6 feet long with D-Rings/Carbineer clips on both ends (this is to clip yourself to other tubes so you don't have to hold on all day long. Long ropes are not good – you don’t want to be tied together when you go through the rapids.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: A floating cooler with snacks, drinks, and lunch. I've used this kind for years. And if you are a smoker then bring TWICE the number of cigarettes that you think you will need and put them in 2 separate Ziploc bags. And bring 2 working lighters!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: A hat, Sunscreen and Sunglasses (with a strap to hold them onto you head).

OPTIONAL: Dry box or bag for your car keys, sunglasses, cigarettes, etc

OPTIONAL: A change of clothes and a Towel for the end of the day. There are showers at the end that you can use. This is recommended whether driving back home or going camping afterward. The Hiwassee is a very clean river but you'll feel a lot better with a hot shower afterward.

DO NOT: Wear any kind of jewelry or expensive sunglasses or anything you might fear to lose – the river taketh and doesn’t give back! Do not bring your cellphone with you - there's no signal on the river anyway.

Food and Beverages

We usually do not eat much on this trip because it is kind of awkward to eat in tubes. However, you will get hungry. Small things are best - like a candy/energy bar or something that you can eat all at once with one hand like half a sandwich. Other things like fruit, chips, any other picnic food is fine. Put them in a Ziploc bag because they likely will go in your cooler. Don't over pack food, you will munch some, but you won't likely eat too much. If you don't have or buy a floating cooler you need to have a way to float your cooler down the river (i.e. in a small raft, on a float, etc.) It's not very comfortable to have a cooler sitting in your lap for 3 hours.

Beverages - don't over pack drinks - a six-pack of 12/20 ounce drinks and a bottle or two of water is about right for each person. No glass containers!

Alcohol - This is a Tennessee State Park so alcohol is banned on the River. (But you can email me for more information on this topic)

Let me know if you have any questions or need any help! CAN'T WAIT TO SEE YOU ALL THERE!!!!!


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  • Heather

    Thanks Gregg for hosting this event.

    May 27, 2013

  • Denise

    I went on an outing this weekend and my tent has sprung a leak. I am cancelling but will sign up for the next one after I replace my temporary home.

    May 20, 2013

  • Gregg Long

    Early Weather forecast looking good!­

    May 17, 2013

  • Gregg Long

    The shuttle is ride $15 to take your own boat or tube up. If you are renting something the shuttle ride is included.

    As for camping spots I simply can't guess. I hope this year to get a couple of campsites on Thursday morning for people. Or I may try to snag places at the overflow area. Just depends on what is open when I get there. I will update here to let you know where we have sites.

    Also if you are intending to camp at Chillhowie please RSVP yes to the camping event here:­

    May 14, 2013

  • Amy Wolf

    sorry- can't get out of family graduation cookout.

    May 12, 2013

  • Gregg Long

    This is not adult only. If you are only going down the river and not camping you shouldn't have any issues.

    May 6, 2013

  • Nicolette Hampton

    Taking the kid to Ohio this weekend

    May 5, 2013

  • Amy Wolf

    Anyone bringing kids or is this adult only?

    May 5, 2013

  • KS

    I would like to attend and join the group Sat afternoon. Is anyone doing this as well? Anyone camping until Monday?

    April 25, 2013

  • susan copeland

    this is going to be GREAT!

    April 16, 2013

  • Kathryn

    We have more room if anyone else wants to join.

    April 14, 2013

    • Gregg Long

      FYI - The main campout is at Chillhowie campground. The cabins are at the outfitters.

      April 14, 2013

    • Kathryn

      We know. Can't keep dogs in a tent. Will probably visit though.

      April 14, 2013

  • Kathryn

    One of my friend is bringing her dogs so we are getting a cabin.

    April 14, 2013

  • Laura

    Thanks GARY!

    April 3, 2013

  • Alicia R

    Whitewater Kayak Instructor

    March 24, 2013

  • Alicia R

    Whitewater Kayak Instructor

    March 24, 2013

  • Kevin G. Kelly

    Is anyone camping for the weekend? Can we reserve the group area at Chilhowee? I definetly will be camping for this trip. Chilhowee has nice bathrooms and hot showers, also a lake with beach area, all on top of a Mtn.

    March 21, 2013

    • Gregg Long

      I'm going to look into options

      March 21, 2013

  • Alicia R

    We're interested in attending this event providing there is camping available for the entire weekend. Does anyone know if they make reservations????

    March 21, 2013

  • Gregg Long

    Chillhowie and Parksville Lake are first come first served. I'm going to look into the group site at the outfitters this year. We were tight at Chillhowie last year.

    March 21, 2013

  • Kathryn

    Bringing kayaks

    March 13, 2013

  • Rachel

    Is it okay to bring my own on top kayak?

    March 7, 2013

    • Gregg Long

      Yes, the outfitters will take your kayak to the put in point for 10 dollars. The outfitters is where we get out and you take a shuttle ride to the put in point.

      March 7, 2013

  • Alicia R

    Whitewater Kayak Instructor

    March 7, 2013

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