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Holston River offers easy float trip below kingsport

Johnny Molloy • Apr 11, 2013 at 9:02 AM

The nearby Holston River presents a 10 mile paddle below the town of Kingsport. The wide river reveals impressive scenery, as wooded ridges rise near and far.

Mountain scenery and river islands are highlights of this trip. The river islands divide the river into channels, changing the atmosphere from large waterway to intimate canopied stream. These islands are good habitat for wildlife. You will undoubtedly see deer. A keen eye will also spot otters, muskrat and beaver.

The put-in, A.S. Derick Park, offers picnic tables and a shelter. The Holston River is a couple of hundred feet wide here. Holston River Mountain and surrounding ridges appear in the distance. Soon, you reach the first of many river islands.

The shoreline is forested with occasional grassy areas in this point. Box elder, silver maple and sycamore crowd the shoreline. Grasses sway under the water and on the surface and can be troublesome to paddlers and anglers alike. These grasses have proliferated the past decade.

Reach large mile-long Hawkins Island at 1 mile. The smaller channel stays left with the main river on the right. Canebrake Mountain rises directly before you. Laurel Run comes in on river left, just below a bluff. A shoal forms here. At 3 miles, pass a boat ramp at Laurel Run Park. Picnic shelters and other facilities are at the park. Stop and look upriver for some spectacular mountain views.

The shoreline is primarily forest here with fields behind it, though fields do occasionally creep to the river’s edge. The current swiftens to pass under the Goshen Valley Road bridge at 5.5 miles. The Holston begins a bend to the south, McPheeter Bend, after passing fairly close to US 11W.

Below Goshen Valley Road bridge, the river narrows, deepens, and slows down, splitting around Hord Island at 6.3 miles. The smaller channel, 60 to 80 feet wide, heads left.

Beyond Hord Island, the river speeds to a long Class I shoal. Ahead, an old defunct bridge spans the Holston and ridges rise in the distance. Reach Hords Islands, a collection of isles. Smaller channels to the right will be of more interest to paddlers.

You are on course for River Mountain. The highland forces Holston River to bend right. Move to the left bank below the islands and reach the takeout at Christian Bend Road.

To reach the takeout: From Exit 1 on I-26 take 11W south for 8.6 miles to Goshen Valley Road and a traffic light. Turn left on Goshen Valley Road and follow it for 1.3 miles to Christian Bend Road. Turn right on Christian Bend Road and follow it for 3.3 miles to the boat ramp on your right (Stay right at 2.1 miles, as Christian Bend Road turns right at an intersection).

To reach the put-in from the takeout: Backtrack to 11W and follow it north for 2.1 miles to Silver Lake Road and a traffic light with a McDonald’s on the corner. Turn right on Silver Lake Road and follow it downhill just a short distance to turn left on Ordnance Drive. Follow Ordnance Drive just a short distance to turn right on Bucky Cooper Road. Follow Bucky Cooper road into A.S. Derick Park and dead end at the boat ramp on the Holston River.

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