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Noteworthy Paddle in TAG: Long Island Creek, Jackson County, Alabama

Noteworthy Paddle in TAG

Long Island Creek, Jackson County Waterfowl Management Area, Jackson County, Alabama

Activities: Flat Water Paddling (class I), Photography, Nature Appreciation

Rating: Beginner

Lake Guntersville begins in the State of Tennessee at the 81-foot high Nickajack Dam. The Tennessee River runs 75 miles through Guntersville Lake, providing 949 miles of shoreline and 69,100 acres of water surface. Lake Guntersville is one of the most stable Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) reservoirs, fluctuating only two feet between the normal minimum winter pool and the maximum summer pool. Tributaries of the Tennessee River and Lake Guntersville include: Big Coon, Brown, Coon, Crow, Long Island, Mud, North Sauty, South Sauty, Scarham, Short and Town creeks.

Long Island is located in a cove on the northwest corner of Sand Mountain, It is rich in Native American history and was one of the five lower towns established by the Chickamauga Cherokees in 1782 under the leadership of Chief Dragging Canoe. According to Cherokee legend, his name is derived from an incident in his early childhood in which he attempted to prove his readiness to go on the warpath by hauling a canoe, but he was only able to drag it. Dragging Canoe was a war leader who led a dissident band of young Cherokees against the United States in the American Revolutionary War. He was considered by many to be the most significant leader of the Southeast.

The majority of Long Island is now owned by private citizens, however Long Island Creek itself is contained within the 8,507 acre Raccoon Creek Wildlife Management Area. The area is managed by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. The management area stretches along the east bank of Lake Gunthersville for about 15 miles between Long Island Creek and Coon Creek.

The boat ramp to access Long Island Creek is located near the mouth of the creek and the Tennessee River, not far from the intersection of CR 91 & CR 676. Once you turn onto CR 676 the boat ramp is on the left. Following the main channel, you can paddle upstream Long Island Creek for about 3 miles. You eventually reach a point where the creek gets too low and rocky to continue on. There are a few side lakes that you can paddle into but those areas can be shallow being only 1-2 feet deep in some areas. One notable feature that Jason and I discovered on our paddle is a spring located on the left side of the creek towards the back in the “donut” shaped area. The entire Long Island Creek area offers great opportunities for wildlife viewing. On our paddle, we saw many Great Blue Herons, ducks, snakes, turtles and fish.

Directions: There are several ways to get there depending on where you are coming from. If you are traveling from north of South Pittsburg or from the Chattanooga area, find your way to 156 and head south on CR 91 which is located across from the south entrance to Nickajack Dam. Go for nearly 8.5 miles and just after you cross over the bridge at Long Island Creek, turn left onto CR 676 and the boat ramp is on the left. If you are heading from the Huntsville area, follow Hwy 72 until you reach Stevenson and make a right onto CR 117. Cross over the Tennessee River and make a Left onto CR 91. Follow 91 back until the sharp curve at CR 676 and head straight on CR 676 and you will see the boat ramp on the left.

To download a Jackson County WMA Map, go to Long Island Creek is in the lower right corner.

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