MSNHA Programs Coordinator Begins Adventure To Paddle The Entire Tennessee River

  • Tuesday, April 26, 2022

On Saturday, April 30 Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area Programs Coordinator 
Terrence Johnson will begin a kayaker’s dream trip – paddling the length of the Tennessee River, 
completing a 652-mile journey. Little did Johnson know when he paddled the first four miles of the river last May during the Tennessee RiverLine’s official launch celebration, that he would be paddling the remaining 648 miles this year.

Mr. Johnson will leave from Suttree Landing Park Pavilion and Kayak Launch in Knoxville at 6:30 a.m. 

“As an outdoor and kayaking enthusiast, I’ll consider this the trip of a lifetime or perhaps the start of many more adventures,” Mr. Johnson said. “I hope my trip can help highlight some of what the river has to offer as a recreational and environmental resource for all. I also want to focus on the work people are doing along the river to make that happen.”

Mr. Johnson and the MSNHA are working with the Tennessee RiverLine, an initiative led by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Tennessee Valley Authority, as well as community partners across the region, to develop a continuous system of paddling, hiking and biking experiences along the Tennessee River, from its origin in Knoxville to its confluence with the Ohio River in Paducah, Ky. The initiative seeks to catalyze economic development, promote public health, improve equitable access to river spaces and experiences and inspire resource stewardship.
The Shoals was one of the Tennessee RiverLine’s 2019 pilot communities, and a member of the 
Tennessee RiverTowns Program’s inaugural cohort in 2021.

“As a proponent of the Tennessee RiverLine, I’m excited to start this 37-day journey, during which I will be privileged to experience the riverscape’s natural beauty. And, perhaps even more importantly, I’m excited to meet people of Tennessee River communities who share the same passion for the river as me and interact with other Tennessee RiverTowns and paddlers along the way,” said Mr. Johnson.

Part of Mr. Johnson's agenda includes highlighting the importance of river access to a diverse community of paddlers, including those traditionally underrepresented on the water. For the first 10 days of the paddle, Mr. Johnson will be joined by Fred Vail, an adventure paddler and supporter of organizations promoting adaptive paddling and recreational opportunities in the region, such as Team River Runner and SPARC Chattanooga.

Mr. Johnson will post regular updates during his trip on MSNHA’s Facebook page, @muscleshoalsnha, and other social media using the hashtag #TJ652. The Tennessee RiverLine will also be sharing Johnson’s progress on its social media accounts, @tnriverline. 

A partnership program of the National Park Service, National Heritage Areas recognize regions 
throughout the country that help tell America’s story. The MSNHA is hosted by the University of North Alabama and focuses on the themes of music Native Americans, and the Tennessee River. Email & visit for more information.

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