TOP PHOTO: Saturday, May 20, is kayaking instruction day at Cove Lake State Park and 12 other state parks.

Veteran Kayaker Daniel Freeman, a La Follette native, is on Widowmaker Rapid, Obed River. (PHOTO COURTESY OF BILL HOAGLAND)

NASHVILLE, TN (SPECIAL TO WLAF) – The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, along with Tennessee State Parks and the Tennessee chapter of the American Canoe Association, are partnering to offer low-cost kayaking instruction on Saturday, May 20. Instruction will be held at 13 state parks, including Cove Lake, and the event is part of the 2023 National Safe Boating Week which launches the same day.

All instructors are Tennessee volunteers who are nationally certified to give paddling and rescue training and are supported by experienced safety teams. Each park’s event will be limited to 15 people. A limited number of kayaks, paddles, and life jackets will be available.  TWRA wildlife officers will be present at various locations to emphasize and encourage paddlecraft safety on Tennessee waters.

Participating Tennessee State Parks include: Cove Lake State Park, Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, Chickasaw State Park. Harpeth River State Park, Long Hunter State Park, Fall Creek Falls State Park. Seven Islands State Birding Park, Big Ridge State Park, Harrison Bay State Park. Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park, Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park, Warriors’ Path State Park, and Booker T. Washington State Park. Adaptive kayaking will take place at Booker T. Washington State Park for paddlers with physical disabilities.

“We want all Tennesseans to be safe while enjoying the state’s beautiful waterways,” said TWRA Executive Director Jason Maxedon. “We are excited to be joining this great partnership to highlight outdoor recreation opportunities and paddling safety skills.”

Classes are made available with volunteer support and equipment donations from 20 organizations including: Appalachian Paddling Enthusiasts, Blues City Kayaks, Bluff City Canoe Club, Catalyst Sports, Chota Canoe Club, East Tennessee Whitewater Club, Nolichucky Outdoor Learning Institute, Ocoee Watersports, Outdoor Chattanooga, Sunseeker Outfitters, Sunshine’s Adventures, Tennessee Kayak Anglers, Team River Runner-Atlanta, Team River Runner-Chattanooga, Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association, Tennessee Valley Canoe Club, Tennessee RiverLine, and the West Tennessee Canoe and Kayak Club. This effort is also supported by Pyranha US, headquartered in Erwin, and the Jackson Kayak Foundation, headquartered in Rock Island.

Classes cost $15 per person and in-person spaces are limited, so an alternative, free online class is available. However, in-person training with a certified instructor and experienced safety team is strongly encouraged. Instruction will be 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. ET. To register, go to the Tennessee State Parks website and the Activities and Events section. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 04/26/2023-6AM)