Cumberland River Paddling

Once abused and under-appreciated, the Cumberland River is becoming a favorite destination for paddlers in Nashville.


Flowing for 688 miles, the Cumberland River is a major waterway in Tennessee and Kentucky. Nearly 2 and half million people live within the river’s drainage, which covers nearly 18 thousand miles. For many years, much of the Cumberland was abused and under-appreciated. Today that is starting to change, as Wild Side Guide Janet Ivey found out on a river excursion with members of Paddle Adventures Unlimited into downtown Nashville.

Paddle Adventures Unlimited is always looking for new members and despite their name, paddling is not a requirement. Membership is free…all you need is a love of the outdoors, a desire for adventure, and a willingness to embrace a paddling attitude! You can check them out online at, email them at, and follow them on Facebook. You can also check out this story we did with them out on Percy Priest Lake.

If you love paddling and want to get more involved in preserving and protecting our beautiful rivers, you might be interested in joining the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association. Whether they are cleaning a river or stream, paddling, building an access site or teaching a school, TSRA members love being on the water and sharing that passion with others. 

The Cumberland River Compact is non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the health and enjoyment of the Cumberland River and its tributaries in Tennessee and Kentucky. To learn more about the group, the work it’s doing to improve water quality in the Cumberland River Basin, and the many opportunities they have for you to get involved and make a meaningful impact, visit their website at

Like the folks at Paddle Adventures, we encourage anyone who gets out on the water to wear a Personal Flotation Device! It is the #1 way to prevent fatalities on the water. If you are new to paddling and would like to learn some paddling guidelines, try watching this Wild Side story on River Etiquette.

If you are interested in padding in Nashville, Big Willies and Nashville Paddle Company rent standup paddleboards while Cumberland Kayak and River Queen Voyages rent kayaks. Metro Nashville Parks has list of places to paddle and access points on their Water Access and Blueways web page. There are a wide variety of outdoor activities just waiting to be discovered in Nashville…you can learn more by visiting the Metro Parks website.

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