Big Cedar Creek, tucked into the hills southwest of Rome, pleases with a seemingly incongruous slice of central- Tennessee scenery mixed with Class I and II shoals. The glades of large eastern red cedar that inspired the creek’s name are mostly gone, supplanted by longleaf pines and mixed hardwoods. Flowing to the northwest out of Polk County, Big Cedar Creek kayaking ends as a Coosa River tributary in Weiss Lake on the Georgia-Alabama border.
Get an Overview of the Coosa River Watershed where Big Cedar Creek is located.
USGS and County Maps for Big Cedar Creek Kayaking
Cedartown East, Livingston, Melson (USGS); Polk, Floyd (County)
Cave Spring Road to Montgomery Landing at Weiss Lake
Class: I-II ; Length: 20.5 miles; Time: 12 hours; Gauge: Web, visual; Level: Unknown; Gradient: 9 feet per mile; Scenery: B- to C
Boaters may begin their Big Cedar Creek kayaking trip on Cave Spring Road, northwest of Cedartown in Polk County. The upper section from here to the US 411 bridge is mostly flatwater; it’s not far downstream from Cedartown, and the aroma of treated sewage is mildly apparent. Rapids, when they occur, are usually quick ledges under-girded with sharp limestone rocks; you (and your boat) will be happier if there’s sufficient water. The one exception is a picturesque Class II drop that may prove challenging for inexperienced boaters.
Water levels change dramatically throughout the year, with high-water periods in the winter and early spring 15 feet or more above the normal summer flows. With its limited watershed, the creek drains quickly after a rain, making the paddling most feasible during these periods. Debris from high water flows is jammed under most bridge trusses, so exercise caution and avoid contact with these when the water is up.
Fish are abundant in Big Cedar Creek and are often visible if you are cautious. The current is slow enough to make fishing from the boat practical, particularly in the lower section below US 411. Below the point where GA 100 crosses the creek, the current becomes slack and Big Cedar Creek kayaking progress will be much slower. The scenery is still pleasant and mostly woodland. Almost 2 miles of paddling across Weiss Lake are required to reach the final takeout at Montgomery Landing.
To the take-out from Cave Spring, go west on US 411 and turn right onto GA 100, then left onto Blacks Bluff Road. Montgomery Landing is the first right-hand turn after crossing the lake. The best upper access points are at GA 100, at us 411/GA 53 (there may be a fee for launch use and parking at the convenient campground), and at Kings Bridge Road. The highest put-in access is on Cave Spring Road that runs between Cedartown and Cave Spring. Access at Lyons Road and Kings Bridge Road is available with permission of the property owners.
Levels are available on-line from the Southeast River Forecast Center at www.srh.noaa.gov/ffclhtmlletowagph.shtml. Allow at least 5 feet; 6 feet would provide more margin to the rocks in the upper section. A gauge is painted on the bridge supports at the river-right, downstream side of the US 411 bridge; pull out on the northeast side of the bridge to check the level. Levels of -1 to -6 inches are required for the lower section. More water, at least in the 0 to 1 foot range, makes the upper section enjoyable. The maximum is 15 feet (flood stage).
This Big Cedar Creek kayaking guide is adapted from Canoeing and Kayaking Georgia by Suzanne Welander and Bob Sehlinger and published here in cooperation with Menasha Ridge Press. Canoeing and Kayaking Georgia covers thousands of miles of Georgia waterways from whitewater to wilderness swamps and everything in between. It’s an indispensable guide to anyone interested in paddling Georgia’s rivers and streams. Order directly from Menasha Ridge Press. See a comprehensive list of other Menasha outdoor publications indexed by title, author, category, and region.