Paddleboard Camping

As the weather warms, there’s really no better place to be than Northeast Tennessee. With 288 miles of the Appalachian Trail running through the region, Northeast Tennessee is a well known destination for backpackers.

Adventure in Northeast Tennessee

But what folks may not know is that it’s also a great location for paddleboard camping! For anyone unfamiliar with paddleboard camping, it’s basically backpacking gear tossed in dry bags and paddling rather than hiking out to a remote camp site.

Pack It In, Pack It Out

Surprisingly, paddleboard camping may be more accessible than backpacking for some. The gear required is mostly the same, with just a few additions including a paddleboard, life vest, and a couple of dry bags. If you’re not ready to buy your own paddleboard, you can always check out some local rental options, including those at Hellbender Outfitters in Elizabethton TN.

Once you have your gear, scope out a weather window with low winds and calm water. Secure your dry bags full of gear to the boards, and take your time getting to your preferred site. Unless posted otherwise, visitors looking to get away from it all can disperse camp outside of designated campgrounds within the Cherokee National Forest. *Just follow Leave No Trace principles and remember camping is not allowed within 100 feet of water, trails, trailheads, parking lots and designated recreational areas. Please do your due diligence to ensure the best possible trip.

All are Welcome

Paddleboard camping, especially on islands, is a whole new level of serene, peaceful and quaint. There are fewer bugs, less noise, and generally less competition for favored camp sites. Plus the views are truly top notch, especially at sunrise and sunset. Think golden light illuminating the water and reflecting the surrounding mountains pink with alpine glow. Swoon.

If you’ve been looking for a quiet but adventured filled weekend, plan your trip to a Northeast Tennessee lake or river to try paddleboard camping soon!

Article & Photography by Somer Pickel, curated for Northeast Tennessee Tourism.

There’s More Up Here!

For extra adventure, go whitewater rafting on the Nolichucky River!