Designated a Tennessee State Scenic River, the Hiwassee flows through the Cherokee National Forest and the pastoral community of Reliance. According to the legend, the name Hiwassee is taken from the Cherokee workd ayuwasi and means “savannah or place at the foot of the hills. Native people began clearing the Hiwassee River Valley for agriculture around 3,000 years ago. A major Overhill Cherokee village, Hiwassee Old Town, once sat on its banks at Hwy. 411 Bridge near Delano.
The Hiwassee River Blueway Trail contains over 60 miles of navigable water trails for canoe, kayak, and paddle boat enthusiasts to enjoy. The trail begins upriver from the Historic District of Reliance in the Cherokee National Forest . It gently winds its way towards the Tennessee River where the trail finally ends at the Hiwassee River Wildlife Refuge Area at Blythe Ferry. At the upper reaches of the river you will encounter some of the best trout fishing in the eastern U.S. Along the way to the river’s mouth at Blythe Ferry you pass beautiful wild and undeveloped shore line, pastoral farmland, and numerous historical sites like the Reliance Church, Webb’s Farm, Charleston and Calhoun and the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park at Blythe Ferry.
Canoeing, kayaking, rafting, and fishing are popular ways for visitors to enjoy the Hiwassee. Fly fishing guides will ensure that even novices land fish.
Hiwassee Scenic River Outfitters
The Hiwassee is primarily Class I and Class II, although certain sections may be considered Class III. Named by Trout Unlimited as one of the Top 100 Trout Streams in America, the Hiwassee is regularly stocked with trout. Fly fishing companies will provide guided fishing trips, instruction, and equipment, including funyaks, rafts, and tubes.