Cahaba River Society offers guided float trips on the Cahaba River. We can supply canoes, paddles, life jackets, and a naturalist with the expertise to allow you a unique, up-close experience with the Cahaba River.

Frequently asked questions about guided Cahaba canoe trips:

When are the trips?

Click here to see a schedule of upcoming guided canoe trips.

Woman and girl on Cahaba River canoe trip

How do I make a reservation?

You can make a reservation online. An online reservation must be made for each person over the age of 12 on the trip.

If you are unable to make a reservation online, you may call 205-322-5326 x418 to make a reservation and pay by credit card over the phone.

Note: These special outings are in high demand and reservations book quickly. Once a trip is full, you may request to be added to a waitlist and notified of cancellations by emailing [email protected] or calling 205-322-5326 x418.

The best ways to increase your chances of getting a reservation are to become a member and attend the Cahaba River Society annual meeting. A schedule of pre-planned trips is released at the Cahaba River Society’s annual meeting, which is held during the last week of January or first week of February. If you would like to request a trip in the interim, contact our office at 205-322-5326 or email [email protected].

If you make a reservation and then discover you cannot attend, please let us know so we may offer the canoe to someone on our waiting list.

How much does it cost?

We request a donation for each person over the age of 12 for the use of our boats and equipment and to cover the costs of staff time.

Requested Donation Levels:

    • Donation for members: $20*
    • Donation for non-members: $40 (includes membership)*
    • Children under 12: No charge, but everyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Donation must be made at the time of reservation either online or over the phone.

Life vests are required for all participants. 

Where do I go for my trip?

The Cahaba runs for 194 miles from its headwaters near Leeds to its confluence with the Alabama River southwest of Selma, and we offer trips on different sections throughout the year. Your meeting place will depend on the section that you are paddling and the direction in which you’ll be traveling. For those who wish to caravan with our staff from the Birmingham area, we often meet at the Colonnade Shopping Center in the parking lot in front of Amped Fitness in the mornings before our trip. When your guide calls to confirm your trip the week before, discuss the meeting time and place with them so that they know when and where to expect you. Please be on time! Your cooperation ensures smooth timing for the trip and is courteous to the guides and other guests. Your guide will give you their cell phone number when they call to confirm your reservation. If you find that you will not be on time the day of your trip, call to let them know.

What should I wear?

Closed-toed shoes are required. A pair of old tennis shoes will work well. You will also be required to wear a lifejacket (provided) while in your canoe.

Many of our canoe trips, including Cahaba lily tours, take place on sections of the river where you may be in full sun for most of the time. Hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen are strongly suggested.

You will want to wear comfortable clothing that is appropriate for the weather expected on the day of your trip. As with any outdoor activity on the water, wearing quick drying fabrics such as polyester, nylon, merino, and similar blends (not cotton) in layers that can be adjusted for changing conditions can be helpful. Rain gear may be helpful, depending on the forecast. Your guide will be monitoring weather conditions carefully and can discuss any questions you have about clothing and gear when they call to confirm your trip.

What should I pack?

You should bring your own meals and plenty of water. Remember that being outside in hot weather will require much more water than usual to keep you hydrated. During day trips, we typically stop for a picnic-style lunch along the river. On shorter trips, it is helpful to have snacks handy.

Note that alcohol is NOT allowed on guided canoe trips.

You may want to bring sunscreen, bug spray, hats, sunglasses, layers of clothing, and anything you need to be comfortable outdoors for an extended time. Many people like to bring a change of clothes, shoes, and a towel to leave in their car for after the trip.

For overnight trips where camping gear, cookware, and other additional supplies will be necessary, discuss the packing list with your guide.

Can I bring my own boat?

Cahaba River Society can supply canoes, life jackets, and paddles. If you prefer to use your own boat and gear, discuss this with your guide to confirm that your boat will be appropriate for the water conditions. Note that you will be required to wear a life jacket at all times.

What if there’s inclement weather?

All of our trips are dependent on weather and water levels. Our staff will be monitoring these factors closely in the days leading up to your trip. Your  guide will contact you during the week preceding the trip (once an accurate weather forecast is possible) to confirm your reservation and any additional details. In the event that a trip must be canceled due to weather, we will attempt to reschedule it for a different date. If your reservation can not be rescheduled, we will refund your donation.

What if I can’t swim?

Swimming is not necessary for canoe trips. Every participant is required to wear a life jacket.

How strenuous are the outings?

Our trips range widely in terms of physical demands. Cahaba Lily Tours are some of our most physically-demanding trips as they require paddling in moving water and walking in moving water across slippery rocks. Other trips, like our Moonlight Tours, only require light paddling over a short distance and very little walking.

Cahaba River Society is committed to making Cahaba River experiences accessible to all people regardless of physical ability. We can accommodate a wide range of needs in our recreational programs, including those who use mobility assistance devices. Our staff can help you choose the trip that’s right for you, so ask if you have questions.

Policies for Educational Outings

    • You must request a reservation by clicking the links above or calling 205-322-5326 x 418. Space on trips is given on a first-come, first-serve basis.
    • Participants are required to follow the trip leader’s guidance regarding safety and behavior, including always wearing shoes and always wearing a life jacket (provided) when you are in a canoe and no alcohol use during the outing.
    • Please be on time for departure.
    • You should bring your own lunch. Remember that being outside in hot weather will require much more water than usual to keep you hydrated.
    • HATS and SUNSCREEN will save you great discomfort!
    • Novice paddlers are encouraged to attend a training session directed by instructors with the Birmingham Canoe Club. For additional details, see “CLASSES” button at

What are the trips like?

The Cahaba River offers a variety of paddling experiences. Read about some of the different types of Cahaba River trips below.

Oxbow Trip

Meandering southern rivers occasionally create unique natural lakes known as oxbow lakes. Perry county now has a beautiful park featuring an oxbow that was created by the Cahaba River. This oxbow has gorgeous tupelo and cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss. We should see Prothonatary warblers as well as many other spring migrant bird species. We usually walk out to The Nature Conservancy’s “Barton’s Beach” too.

Lily Trips

You will see the beautiful Cahaba lilies first hand in their natural setting. These are rigorous outings that require wading and dragging a canoe over shallow rocky shoals. When very low water conditions occur, we alter the trip so we still see the lilies and enjoy the river, but we avoid a difficult hike down the riverbed. These are our most popular outings, so call soon to reserve your canoe.

Day Trips

Day trips are all-day adventures to a seldom seen stretch of the Cahaba River. There will be ample opportunities to stop, explore, and see the sights. Staff will point out wildlife, seine for fish, and discuss the natural history of wildlife and southern rivers when the critters present themselves. It is not unusual for us to spot resident Bald eagles on these trips.

Moonlight Trips

A moonlit evening on the Cahaba is a delightful, unique, and relaxing way to enjoy a flatwater portion of the Cahaba. We usually hear a variety of wildlife, and often see hundreds of glowworms. These outings begin at dusk at the old Highway 280 bridge. We paddle about two hours in the 280 pool and then return to the same place we put in.

Overnight Trip

One of the very best ways to get a feel for the nature of the Cahaba River is to spend a couple of days and a night camping on the river. The first day is much like the Day Trips described above. But instead of crawling out of the river at the end of the day, we find a sand bar, pitch tents, cook a meal, and spend the night by a campfire. Soaking up an entirely different kind of experience on the river is great fun. You must provide your own camping gear and food.