Scott County is home to two major rivers, each of which flows through nearly untouched countryside full of stunning bluffs, deep swimming pools and rolling farmland.
The Clinch River is one of the most diverse rivers in the nation, full of rare plants and animals, some of which can be found nowhere else on earth. Small rapids on the northeastern end of the river give way to flat waters which even a novice can navigate, and both sections of the river are well endowed with many species of game fish.
The North Fork of the Holston River is less well known, but offers a similar seclusion with even fewer paddlers. The North Fork is also a trophy smallmouth bass fishery, with bass over 20 inches long regularly pulled from its waters.
Burton’s Ford Access Boat Ramp
This stretch of the Clinch may be too difficult for raw beginners, but everyone else is bound to enjoy the scenery and small rapids. The Clinch winds between picturesque cliffs and over a few ledges and small falls which may require you to portage in dry weather. Deer drink from the edge of the river while kingfishers fly overhead. If you enjoy fishing, this is a good stretch of the Clinch to ply your trade, full of smallmouth bass and walleye.
From Dungannon, travel east on Rte 65 for 8 miles, then turn left onto Rte 611. Follow Rte 611 (veering right at one point to remain on Rte 611) until it deadends on the bank of the Clinch River.
Clinchport Access Boat Ramp
From Clinchport, take a gentle, 2 mile float to Speer’s Ferry along the world-reknowned Clinch River. Alternatively, continue for another 9 miles to the Virginia/Tennessee state line.
From Duffield, travel south on Rte 23 for 5.5 miles. Turn left onto Rte 65 and travel about a mile until you see a pull off to your right.
Dungannon Access Boat Ramp
This short stretch of flat water is a good place for beginners to dabble in the Clinch without worrying about rapids. Fishing is very productive, with smallmouth bass, walleye, sauger, sunfish, and catfish commonly caught. As you float, keep your nose alert for the Scott County Lavender Farm, an aromatic small business located on the bank of the river.
From the junction of Rte 72 and Rte 65 in the center of Dungannon, follow Rte 65 east for about 0.1 miles. You will cross a bridge over a railroad track, but before you cross a bridge over the river, take the first right at a sign for a public boat ramp. Take the first left onto 4th Avenue, and follow the road down to a large parking area by a paved boat ramp.
Fort Blackmore Boat Ramp
This section of the Clinch River will provide a long day of unparalleled beauty for beginning paddlers. The highlight is the Pendleton Island Preserve, home to 45 species of mussels.
From the junction of Rte 72 and Rte 65 in Ft. Blackmore, take Rte 72 south for about half a mile. Just after you drive across the river on a bridge, turn right toward the river to an informal access point.
Gray’s Island is a Nature Conservancy Preserve home to rare mussels. The island has historical significance dating from 1770.
Reach the island by canoe or kayak by putting in at the Dungannon access point.
Contact Person: The Nature Conservancy
Hill Station Access Boat Ramp
This section of the Clinch River is another lazy float through primarily flat water. Sunfish, catfish, and smallmouth bass are easy to find as you pass between farms and wooded floodplain forest.
From the intersection of Rte 65 and Rte 72 in Ft. Blackmore, travel west for 8.2 miles on Rte 65, a very scenic road which follows the bends of the Clinch River. Turn left onto Rte 645. In 0.2 miles, turn left again onto Rte 729, which will bring you to the access point.
Jett Gap Ford
Holston River access point near Hiltons. This multiple day journey begins near the famous Carter Family Fold, then winds between farms and forests and under towering bluffs and swinging bridges. Despite the length of this section of the river, paddling is easy on flat water — you may opt to just drift with the river’s flow, relaxing under a brilliant sun.
From the junction of Rte 614 and Rte 58 in the middle of Hiltons, take Rte 614 north for 1.4 miles. Turn right onto Rte 692 and drive for 0.9 miles until the road comes to a T. Turn left onto Rte 689 and drive for about half a mile to the Jett Gap Road access point.
Miller Yard Boat Ramp
The section of river from Miller’s Yard to Dungannon is perfect if you only have a half day to spare but want to see the best of the Clinch. This run has a few small ledges and falls which will get your heart pumping, but should be no problem for the paddler with a little experience.
Follow Rte 72 north out of Dungannon for 2 miles. Turn right on Rte 608 and follow the road for about a mile and a half, under a set of railroad tracks and to the river. The access point is informal — merely a pull off on the side of the road.
Rte 659 Takeout Boat Ramp
Below this access point, the Clinch spreads out slow and flat, providing a very gentle float for beginners. Sunfish, catfish, walleye, and musky abound in a 14 feet deep and 5 miles long pool.
From the junction of Rte 72 and Rte 65 in the center of Dungannon, follow Rte 65 east for half a mile, then turn right onto Rte 659 (Twin Springs Rd.) Rte 659 parallels the Clinch for six and a half miles, offering several access points on private land. Be sure to secure permission from the property owner before putting in.
Speers Ferry Boat Ramp
This access ramp provides a full day float down one of the Clinch River’s most scenic and gentle sections.
From Gate City, travel north on Rte 23 for 8.1 miles. Turn right onto Rte 627 and drive about half a mile to the access point (which is near the railroad bridge.)
State Line Access Boat Ramp
This is the furthest downstream access point on the world-reknowned Clinch River in Virginia.
From Gate City, travel north on Rte 23 for 8.1 miles. Turn left onto Rte 627 and drive for 8 miles, nearly to the Virginia-Tennessee state line. The access point is on your right.
Warm Springs Road Access Ramp
This access ramp provides the last take-out point on the Holston River in Virginia.
Heading south on Rte 23 through Weber City, turn right onto Yuma Road. (Yuma Road is about 0.6 miles north of the turnoff for Newland Hollow Road on Rte 23.) Drive about 1 mile, then turn left onto Warm Springs Road. The access point is in about 100 yards.
Weber City Bridge Access Ramp
The Weber City access ramp is the beginning of a short float down the Holston River.
Heading south on Rte 23 through Weber City, turn left onto Newland Hollow Road just after crossing the river on a bridge. The access point is on Newland Hollow Road near the highway bridge.