Guided Canoe Trip: Cahaba Lily Tour III
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.
On this tour, 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.
Average water levels for this time of year allow us to paddle a little more than a mile down to the top of Hargrove Shoals, the largest known shoals of lilies left in the world, and back upstream. The special geology that provides the lilies their habitat actually helps us in this case. The riverbed changes between limestone and sandstone, remnants of ancient rising and falling sea levels. Where the riverbed is limestone you will see the shallow shoals that the lilies call home. Where the riverbed is sandstone, there are deep pools where water slows. It is these deep pools of slow moving water that allow us to paddle back upstream and to take out at the same place we put it. We advertise this as one of our more physically demanding trips because at each shoal “step” we have to drag our boats to the next pool. The shoals create obstacles on our way back to the boat launch. Boats will become stuck on rocks across the shoals both headed downstream and back up. Be careful as you step out of your boats to pull across the shoals: the rocks are slippery! The walks across the shoals are why we wear close-toed shoes.
Cahaba Lily Tours are vigorous outings. They involve wading both upstream and downstream on a rocky river bottom, and paddling both upstream and downstream in shoals. If a participant has mobility issues, this should be discussed with a Cahaba River Society representative before requesting a reservation.
Participants will have the opportunity to meet at the Colonnade Shopping Center near the Gold’s Gym at 8:30 am and then caravan to the Cahaba National Wildlife Refuge. Participants who do not live in Birmingham may make arrangements to meet us at the Refuge, but that should be discussed with the guide ahead of time.
Typically we are off the river by 2:30 or 3:00 pm, and participants then drive home. However, there are many possible reasons for delays, so participants should plan accordingly.
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 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.
Policies for Educational Outings
- You must request a reservation by clicking the links above or calling 205-322-5326 between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. Space on trips is given on a first-come, first-serve basis.
- Once a trip is full, you may request to be added to a wait list and notified of cancellations.
- 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.
- 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 www.birminghamcanoeclub.org.