I loaded my kids and kayak in the truck after finishing the early morning farm chores Saturday and made the hour-long drive up to Bear Creek Canoe Run outfitters in Hackleburg. We had an 8:30am reservation to rent two kayaks and have them shuttle us to the Mill Creek ramp on Bear Creek near the intersection of state highways 172 and 241. We spent the next four hours paddling and floating down the creek and having a grand old time enjoying both light rapids and smooth, slow moving water.
This was my fourth time to float down Bear Creek. The first was in the summer of 2015 when a group from our church went down in canoes. Once was enough for my wife, but my son and I really enjoyed it. The two of us have made it an annual trip each summer since 2019 and included my daughter for the first time this year. She loved it and is already looking forward to the next opportunity to make the run.
If you are looking for a place to canoe or kayak in northwest Alabama, this section of Bear Creek is definitely worth considering. As I said, we put in at Mill Creek and spent four hours on the water until BCCR picked us up at Rock Quarry Branch off of Hwy 172 some 6-7 miles downstream. Most of the rapids are on the first half of the run before Factory Falls (a mandatory portage point), and there are long stretches past the falls that are so calm I nearly dozed off while drifting downstream. The scenery is gorgeous throughout. The creek runs through private property so you can't get out and venture beyond the stream bed, but there are a few small sandbars you can moor against if you need to stretch your legs or jump in for a swim. BCCR is the only rental and shuttle service in the area, but you can DIY the trip if you and your family/friends have your own boats and can self-shuttle. You can get more information about conditions and access points here and here.
What are your favorite spots to kayak, canoe, or float in northwest Alabama? Do you know of good stretches of the Buttahatchee or Luxapalila with good access points in and out? Let me hear from you!