"Tell me and I will forget,
Show me and I may remember,
Involve me and I will understand."
The Duck River is a beautiful river that is rich in history, wildlife, and folklore. It is just over 270 miles in length and meanders it way through Middle Tennessee and is one of the longest rivers contained entirely within the Tennessee borders. It is a river that showcases scenic pastoral lands, steep rock cliffs, and forested banks.
The Duck River is one of the most biologically rich and diverse rivers in North America and in 2010 was featured in National Geographic's "One Cubic Foot" article (Jan/Feb 2010 issue).
According to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) the Duck River contains over 500 species of aquatic plants, fish and invertebrates. This includes over 60 species of mussels, 151 fish species, and 22 aquatic snail species. The Duck River holds more species of fish than all of Europe. Many anglers enjoy catching smallmouth bass, spotted bass, rock bass, and many other fish on the Duck River.
Among the rare species living in the Duck River are mussels such as the birdwing pearly mussel and the Tennessee club shell. In addition, the river harbors a number of larger mammals, reptiles, and birds, including river otters, beavers, mink, hawks, osprey, and herons. Freshwater mussels have disappeared across much of the United States. But the Duck River is one of a handful of rivers in Tennessee where they have survived and are still thriving. Because mussels are sensitive to pollution, their presence is a reliable indicator of water quality – for humans.
In 2001, a 37-mile stretch of the Duck River was designated a State Scenic River because of its scenic, ecological, cultural, and historical value. This section begins near the Maury and Marshall County lines and ends at Iron Bridge Road.
This is the section that Higher Pursuits features on all our guided trips and rental routes. One of the unique aspects of this section of river is that it passes through 12,800 acres of land owned by the State of Tennessee. This 12,800 acres has been designated as the Yanahli Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and is managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency.
The Duck River is considered a Class 1 River for recreational boaters. This means that the river has moving water with a few riffles and small waves with few or no obstructions.
Within the Yanahli Wildlife Management Area are six different State Natural Areas that make up the Duck River Complex. Less than a mile from the Higher Pursuits Duck River Base is the Cheeks Bend State Natural Area. It is an 800-acre area that contains cedar glades, scenic bluffs overlooking the Duck River, and extensive cedar and hardwood forests. In the Cheeks Bend State Natural Area there is a two-mile hiking trail that leads to the bluffs overlooking the Duck River and also provides access to a small cave.
Camping is allowed on the Duck River but you must obtain permission from the Region II WMA Manger, TWRA. Currently the Region II manager is Tommy Edwards. His office can be reached at 931-840-4042 or 615-781-6622. You must know where you would like to camp and when. There are no designated camping spots, no outhouses, and no picnic tables. It is very rustic. Also, if you plan to camp it is VERY IMPORTANT to know the river level and predicted weather conditions. The river can rise very quickly and wash groups off low lying campsites in the middle of the night. You should also know where the WMA property lines are so you do not camp on private property. Permission to camp on private property can only be obtained from the land owner.