Wed, March 12, 2014 • Cloudy, and 47 ° F.
Paddling the North Fork of the Holston River
The North Fork of the Holston River is always hiding in the more well known Clinch River's shadow. However, the North Fork follows an equally remote and scenic path through gentle water, with the addition of trophy smallmouth bass nipping at your line. With the choice between a multiple day journey and a short afternoon jaunt, the river has something for every taste.
Anglers should be aware that a salt-mining operation in the aptly named Saltville in the North Fork's headwaters has contaminated the river with mercury. The ban on fish consumption has had the fortunate side effect that fish populations have built up to overwhelming levels. The river is considered to be a trophy smallmouth bass fishery, with bass over 20 inches long routinely caught. Sunfish, rockbass, carp, suckers, and flathead and channel catfish are also common in the waters of the North Fork. Be aware that there is a 20 inch minimum size limit on smallmouth bass and anglers may keep only one smallmouth per day.
In addition to bountiful fish, paddlers on the North Fork of the Holston will float under picturesque swinging bridges, past kingfishers and Great Blue Herons, between rolling pastures, and under the arching white trunks of sycamore trees. If you're out to spend a beautiful day in the wild, the North Fork of the Holston is your river.
Two float trips
(See directions to access points below.)
Hiltons to Weber City
Distance: 23.6 miles
Time: allow two days
This multiple day journey begins near the famous Carter Family Fold, then winds between farms and forests and under towering bluffs and swinging bridges. Despite the length of this section of the river, paddling is easy on flat water --- you may opt to just drift with the river's flow, relaxing under a brilliant sun.
Weber City to Yuma
Distance: 1.5 miles
Time: allow a morning or afternoon
This short trip is perfect for paddlers who only have a few hours to spare. With both access points easy to reach off Rte 23, you can drop in for a short float, then head into town for an early lunch.
From the junction of Rte 614 and Rte 58 in the middle of Hiltons, take Rte 614 north for 1.4 miles. Turn right onto Rte 692 and drive for 0.9 miles until the road comes to a T. Turn left onto Rte 689 and drive for about half a mile to the Jett Gap Road access point.
Heading south on Rte 23 through Weber City, turn left onto Newland Hollow Road just after crossing the river on a bridge. The access point is on Newland Hollow Road near the highway bridge.
Heading south on Rte 23 through Weber City, turn right onto Yuma Road. (Yuma Road is about 0.6 miles north of the turnoff for Newland Hollow Road on Rte 23.) Drive about 1 mile, then turn left onto Warm Springs Road. The access point is in about 100 yards.