Henry David Thoreau said, “Everyone must believe in something. I believe I’ll go canoeing.”
I tend to agree with Thoreau. Kayaking and canoeing are peaceful ways to experience nature, which, I’m certain, is why he loved it so much. It’s also a fantastic way to get some exercise without really feeling like you’re exercising. Ha! Of course, after a day of kayaking and canoeing on Flint Creek you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something.
My niece and I went on a float on Flint Creek (the Madison County part) back in 2020, and I definitely felt like I had accomplished quite a feat – a fun feat – but definitely an achievement!
Of course, some of that was due to my erroneous thinking. Wait for it. We went with North Alabama Canoe & Kayak – NACK just outside of Huntsville. The cool thing about going out with an outfitter is that you don’t have to own your own kayak or canoe, which if you have a small car like I do, works out perfectly. With this outfitter, they take you to the launch point, you float down the trail, and at a certain point they pick you up and take you back to your car. Another perk!
As we launched up stream, we set out on Flint Creek on a leisurely float.
You can go as slow or as fast as you like. The whole trip takes about two hours. You can even take a small cooler with food and drinks and pull up on a bank to have a picnic. There are a few places on Flint Creek to do this, and at these places there’s a rope swing to cool off on a hot day! There’s ample shade and sun all along the way, so you’re never in the sun too much or too hot. Of course, if you have a lapse in judgment like I did, you will have the opportunity to become fully immersed in the Creek.
As we were floating down the Creek, there were downed trees in places that created some obstacles you have to navigate around.
I missed being able to go around one of these obstacles, and thought, “Oh, I’ll just bump into this downed log and then push myself off with my oar and get myself going back in the right direction. Wrong. Because the water was moving downstream, when my kayak bumped into the log, it turned it sideways and flipped me out. I lost my sunglasses, but luckily my phone was in a waterproof case tightly around my neck, and my keys and other things were in a bag that I was able to grab before it sank to the bottom of the Creek. I learned a lot about being prepared for a kayak or canoe trip from this one lapse in judgment, so I have to say that it wasn’t all bad. Haha!
I learned on my next trip, I should:
- have my glasses on a sunglass strap to ensure they don’t float away,
- make sure my phone and keys are in a waterproof case that is physically on me that will not float off,
- take some towels and leave them in the car for wet behinds (and bodies),
- and most importantly, don’t run into trees that have fallen in the water.
If you do own your own kayak or canoe, the Flint Creek Canoe Trail in Morgan County has many launch points all along the way. You can find a map with those points here.
The Flint Creek Canoe Trail opened in 2018, and with its opening, kayakers and canoers have access to the interior of Wheeler Wildlife Refuge and all the amazing scenery and beautiful wildlife on the Refuge.
There are so many different birds that call the Refuge home throughout the year: whooping cranes, sandhill cranes, egrets, mallards, wood ducks, and many other waterfowl. Alligators also live on the Refuge, so be aware.
The different launch spots on the Trail take you inside the Refuge to parts that you cannot see on land. One of my favorite spots on the Trail to launch is at Hickory Hills in between Decatur and Priceville. This launch point is also pretty close to Point Mallard, so if you float north, you can see the waterpark.
In the early summer, a group of friends and I like to launch from Hickory Hills in the evening and watch the sunset from the water. We’ve even taken snacks to munch on as we wait for the majestic view of the sun going down on the Tennessee River. It’s quite breathtaking. Just make sure you begin floating back before it gets dark so you can find your way to the launch point
So if you, like Thoreau and I, think that canoeing (or kayaking) is what you’re going to believe in, then Flint Creek is your go-to spot. It’s beautiful, fun, and provides stories to tell for years.
Melea Hames, Social Media Manager,
AMLA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion and development of the travel industry within the 16 northernmost counties of the state. It is supported by 500-plus members consisting of chambers of commerce, Convention & Visitors Bureaus, attractions, campgrounds, festivals, communities, counties, golf courses, restaurants, tour operators, accommodations, vendors, financial institutions and individuals. Counties included within the AMLA region are Blount, Cherokee, Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Morgan and Winston. Additional information on North Alabama destinations, accommodations and special events is available by calling 800.648.5381 or by visiting www.northalabama.org.
More Ways to Learn About the Flint Creek Canoe Trail
In 2018, a 20-mile section of Flint Creek running through Decatur and Hartselle, Alabama, was added to the Alabama Scenic River Trail. The Alabama Scenic River Trail is the longest and most experience-diverse river trail in America with 5,300 miles of accessible waterways from North Alabama to the Gulf of Mexico. The portion of the trail running through Decatur on Flint Creek provides breathtaking views of nature and the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge.