Two pristine rivers in northern Alabama offer nature lovers peaceful opportunities to enjoy fishing, boating and birding. The Flint River and Paint Rock River are the two last free-flowing tributaries of the Tennessee River Basin in the northern part of the state.
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But unlike the Tennessee River and four of its popular TVA-infected lakes, the Flint and Paint Rock rivers are relatively unknown and crowded. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy recreational activities while having plenty of water.
The Flint River Heads begin in southern Tennessee and flow south into Madison County, Alabama north of Huntsville. Kremen, with its two main tributaries – Brier Fork and Mountain Fork, meandered more than 65 miles before joining the Tennessee River.
Development along the river is minimal and anglers will enjoy excellent fishing. Among the fish species in the Flint River will find spotted bass, largemouth bass, rock bass, channel catfish and longear sunfish. The upper part of the river is suitable for walking and canoeing. The section below Hwy 431 is great for fishing flat-bottomed vessels.
The lower parts of the rivers are comfortable for canoeing and kayaking. The river depth is generally 2-5 feet with some small Class I rapids. Rowers can encounter some downed trees. Good places to put / extract are at river crossings along Hwy 72E, Hwy 431S, Old Hwy 431, Cloud Cove Road and Hobbs Island Road. There are no buildings along the river.
Walkers can enjoy the Flint Riverway in Madison County near Owens Cross Roads. The 1.8 km asphalt trail passes through the Hays Nature Reserve. The trail at the north end connects to Big Cove Creek Greenway, which continues three miles further north.
Trail users can spot wildlife, including deer, rabbits, and various birds. The pedestrian bridge over the river offers a picturesque view. Parking is available at each end of the green trail, outside Hwy 431 and Old Hwy 431.
The pristine Paint Rock River flows from southern Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau to the south of Jackson, Marshall and Madison counties in Alabama. It flows into the Tennessee River below the Guntersville Dam. The river is largely undeveloped, with the best water access points on the county road bridges on the right. The river is home to a variety of aquatic life, including 100 species of fish and 12 species of rare shellfish. The Alabast lamp and the pale Lilliput shell are only found in the Paint Rock River.
For those who enjoy birding, the Roy B. Whitaker Paint Rock River Reserve is one of 50 stops along the North Alabama Bird Trail. The Nature Conservancy maintains a reserve located outside of US Hwy 72 between the cities of Gurley and Paint Rock. Birds can be rewarded by seeing crows and hawks with fairy tails in the lawn or large snowflakes and red vire nesting in forests. Spring and fall migrations bring other bird species to the area. Admission to the reserve is free of charge.
Two tools in this area offer boat rental and transportation service. North Alabama Canoeing and Kayaking in Huntsville rent canoes and kayaks by reservation on the Flint River. 1.5, 3, and 4.5 hour sailing trips are available. Prices are $ 45 per person for sailboats and $ 35 per person for double boats, which includes paddles, a personal flotation device and transportation. Pipe rental for $ 20 per person. The shuttle service for those who own their boats is $ 15 per person. Alabama Eco Adventures will rent a canoe for $ 50 a day and kayaks for $ 35-45 a day in both rivers. A shuttle service is available.