Caney Fork River Guide
A Winding Journey through White County
A GUIDE TO EXPLORING THE CUMBERLAND RIVER BASIN
White County is a hub for gorgeous natural sites and unique small towns. The county is home to numerous Tennessee State Parks and Natural Areas, along with lots of opportunities for water recreation. Come with us as we canoe the Caney and indulge in Sparta’s finest grub.
357 W Bockman Way, Sparta, TN 38583
Jump start your morning with a hot cup of motivation and a breakfast croissant at CH Donut in Sparta, TN. CH Donuts is a Sparta staple and is always bustling with locals. Try one of the ham & cheese or sausage croissants and I guarantee you will go back for another.
Be sure to grab some donuts for later. These donuts are hard to compare to any other. They are so light and airy- you will discover how quickly they disappear.
Lost Creek State Natural Area
Co Hwy 2190, Sparta, TN 38583
Before you hit the river, there is a stop just down the road you shouldn’t miss.
Lost Creek State Natural Area features a waterfall that exits a cave and drops 60 feet before disappearing into another cave. The state natural area offers an accessible gravel parking lot with a short hike down to the beautiful Lost Creek Falls and Cave.
Just across from the falls you will find the entrance of Lost Creek Cave. This geographical wonder sets down in an annual temperate basin that serves as an epitome of diverse plant and wildlife.
Caves are closed during the fall and winter months in an effort to prevent the further spread of White Noise Syndrome amongst the North American bat population. During the summer months, check the park website for guided cave expeditions offered by park rangers.
Mitchell Ford Kayak and Canoe Launch
5134 Co Hwy 2190, Sparta, TN 38583
This launch site is a more recent addition to the White County paddling scene.
Mitchell Ford features a gravel parking lot, pavilion, and wooden walking bridge. If you packed a lunch, the covered pavilion is a great place to grab a bite before hitting the river.
At roughly 4.2 miles, this paddling trip is a comfortable five-hour float through the scenic countryside. Peaceful views of rolling farmland, limestone bluffs, and structures long- forgotten paint the river banks of the Caney Fork River.
Vehicle drop should be at the Plum Lee Ford Boat Ramp.
Plum Lee Ford Boat Ramp
River Bend Road, Sparta TN 38583
Your paddling trip concludes at the Plum Lee Ford Boat Ramp, located just off Highway 111.
Shortly after paddling under the Hwy 111 bridge, you will find the ramp to your left. Plum Lee Ford is a popular put-in for local fishermen, so there are often vehicles and trailers parked here. If you do not have a vehicle drop at this takeout plan for a there and back trip. If you do decide to paddle back to Mitchell Ford, it is important to get an early start. It will be a great day of paddling, but a long one.
Happy Trails Brewery and Taproom
38 East W Bockman Way St. 3, Sparta, TN 38583
A long day of paddling the Caney Fork pairs well with some beer. Located in charming downtown Sparta, Tennessee, Happy Trails Brewery and Taproom is a popular watering hole on any given night of the week. This Tennessee State Park-themed brewery is a must-stop along your travels through Sparta. You will find many repurposed items throughout the brewery that were donated from state parks.
10 Liberty Square, Sparta, TN 38583
Located on the Sparta Courthouse square and within walking distance from Happy Trails lies a little slice of heaven: Marioochi’s Pizzeria.
The pizzeria is located inside a charming renovated historic building that is reminiscent of a bygone era. Try one, or two, of their signature wood-fired pizzas.
They offer a wide variety of apps, pizzas, and calzones, as well as a full-service bar. If you having trouble deciding, I recommend my personal favorite, the “Hey Louie”.
Firefly Acres Cabins
304 Tandy Ln, Sparta, TN 38583
Make your paddling adventure into a weekend-long getaway and stay with Firefly Acres Cabins.
Firefly offers a variety of rental cabins, from 2-person tiny cabins to their larger 6-person two-story bungalow. They also offer venue space that is ideal for company retreats, weddings, reunions, and other memorable occasions.