Description - The Hiwassee River originates on the northwestern slopes of he Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Georgia. The river flows into North Carolina before turning west to enter Tennessee. It drains over 750,000-acres of mountain land, most of which lies within the confines of the Cherokee, Nantahala and Chattahochee National Forests. This area is over 90 percent forested, a condition which is reflected in the purity and crystalline character of the Hiwassee's waters. The word "hiwassee" is taken from the Cherokee word "ayuwaski" meaning savanna or meadow place at the foot of the hills.
Copyright: Tennessee State Parks
Whitewater Rafting on the Hiwassee River
Rocks exposed along the river were formed of sediments, which eroded from highland masses into shallow seas, that covered this area 800 million years ago. These layers of sediments formed sandstone and shale that were later transformed by heat and pressure into quartzite and slates. Inclusions of gold, garnet, quartz ruby, emeralds and other minerals can be found in these rocks.
- The Hiwassee State Scenic River offers a sample of all that is available in the area-whitewater sports, picnicking, camping, hiking and mountain biking.
Recreation - The Hiwassee River offers picnicking, camping, viewing scenery and paddling opportunities.
Climate - Tennessee has a temperate climate with short, mild winters. The average annual snowfall for the state is 12 inches. Spring comes in early March bringing flowering trees and shrubs, and warmer weather. Spring temperatures average between 45 and 70 degrees F. Summers full force arrives in the region by mid May, bringing warm weather and higher humidity. The mountains of eastern Tennessee are a great place to escape the hot summer temperatures as the higher elevation cools the air slightly. Cooling fall temperatures bring crisp air and brilliant foliage colors. Mid to late October is a good time to visit the region to experience the fall color change.
The Hiwassee River runs east-west through the Hiwassee Ranger District in the southern portion of the Cherokee National Forest.