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Bateman Bridge to Moscow: The Lost Swamp Trail

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 Follow this link for an interactive map of this river section.

This roughly 6.0 mile section of the Wolf River from Bateman Road Bridge to Moscow, is a favorite of many paddlers. On a scale of 1-10 for scenic beauty, WRC rates this section a 9+, second in popularity only to the Ghost River Section from LaGrange to Moscow.

Trip Description:

To reach the put-in at Bateman Bridge, take Hwy 57 east through Moscow, Tennessee, and turn right onto Bateman Road, which is 3.3 miles east of the Feemster Bridge over the Wolf River at Moscow. Drive south on Bateman Rd. for about 1.8 miles and turn left into a gravel parking lot just 100 yards before crossing the Bateman Road bridge. From the put-in at Bateman, the river flows in a relatively open channel through a normal riverbed for about a mile. At this point, the riverbed disappears ahead, and blocked to the left, a few hundred yards down, where the old “Hill and Dale” trail exited the main river channel. Paddlers must turn right here, where the main river channel ends, and paddle into the recently named Lost Swamp Trail (LST) to navigate their way to Moscow. The Lost Swamp Trail begins with a narrow water passage between two trees into a large old growth cypress forest. Watch for the familiar blue and white canoe trail signs. This new section of the old Bateman to Moscow trail is about 2.5 miles long. The sometimes narrow trail makes numerous zigzags and sharp turns through large forests, two large swamps and grass-lined channels into areas where vast spatterdock fields thrive. Often boaters must paddle in single file.

This section of the river may not be suitable for everyone. By mid to late summer, the spatterdock lilies do take over the water trails in some locations. You may experience these conditions just a couple hundred yards from the Emergency Take-out (detailed below). Paddlers could possibly be forced to exit their craft several times in order to pull the boat across small lily patches through knee- to waist-deep mud and water. Spatterdock can stick to the bottom of boats and sometimes feels like glue, forcing all but the strongest paddlers out of their boat to navigate a couple of short stretches.

Emergency Take-out:  At the halfway point through the Lost Swamp, there is an emergency exit to river right. This emergency exit can easily be identified for there is no other place in this neck-of-the-woods where the canoe trail passes solid grounds. A word of advice, only use this emergency exit for true emergencies, for one will still have approximately half mile of walking through tall grass in-order to reach the State of Tennessee TWRA Poole Road Fishing and Hunting access. 

Paddlers will reach an area we call the “lunch stop” about quarter mile past the emergency take out. This area is marked by two of the familiar blue and white canoe trail signs. This is the only place on the entire water trail where it is relatively safe and easy to take a "bathroom break." Please keep in mind there are no toilet facilities anywhere on the Wolf River and, wherever Mother Nature calls, paddlers are requested to practice the “Leave No Trace” principles.

After the lunch stop, paddlers may experience feelings of isolation. In comparison to the upper half of the LST, the swamp becomes very dense, with large thickets of undergrowth, passing through meandering narrow openings. Don't worry - if you follow the signs, you should have little difficulty navigating this section. Follow the signs - and you should be able to reach the main channel of the Wolf River after about one mile of paddling through these gently moving waters.

When paddlers reach the new trail confluence with the main channel of the Wolf River, they will still have close to three miles of water trails left to navigate before exiting the river at Moscow, Tennessee. When exiting the new trail and joining the main channel, one must paddle about two miles before reaching the next split in the trail. At the split, there are two signs: "Scenic Route,” indicating a trail leading down the river to the left through a scenic forested swamp filled with beautiful cypress trees, and “Fastest Way Out," also a very scenic route through numerous cypress trees. Paddlers may wish to take this route if pressed for time or if the water level is low; paddlers can decide which route is preferable upon reaching the signs. This paddle adventure should take average paddlers 3 to 4 hours to paddle from the Bateman Road put-in to the Moscow take-out at Feemster Bridge. Less experienced paddlers should allow more time. The channel leading to the take-out at Moscow is primitive, very narrow, sometimes overgrown and somewhat hidden. Just after passing under the Hwy 57 (Feemster) Bridge, make the very first possible river right, taking the narrow water passage to the takeout. We strongly recommend that paddlers carefully view take-out conditions BEFORE beginning their trip, walking down to the river’s edge. The spatterdock may have overgrown the entrance. Depending on weather and water conditions, this take-out can be challenging for some people. Please also be aware that you must pay to park a vehicle at the nearby parking lot. After the Feemster Bridge take-out, the next take-out is 13 miles downriver at Rossville, Tennessee. More than one paddler has unexpectedly spent the night on the river, having missed the take-out point at Moscow! Don’t forget to turn right immediately after passing under the Hwy 57 bridge at Moscow.

The Wolf may be a “class one” river but don’t let this deceive you; though there are no rough whitewater paddling conditions, other factors must be considered. On the Wolf, one must be able to make sharp turns around trees, though meandering channels, and through thick submerged vegetation and lily fields. The Wolf River becomes increasingly difficult as water levels increase. Paddlers must be committed to paddle the entire six miles through to Moscow, Tennessee before entering this trail system. Always take extra precautions when paddling the Wolf River, especially when entering this area. We recommend plenty of water, appropriate clothing (no cotton) plus an extra set of clothing in a dry bad. Take plenty of food and medical/ first aid supplies to fulfill your personal needs.

 To view additional SAFETY INFORMATION click here.

This section of the river should not be paddled when water levels reach eight feet by lay paddler and nine feet for guided trips. To view the current water level at the LaGrange River Gauge, click here.

TO VIEW PHOTOS OF THIS SECTION CLICK HERE.

Wolf River Boat Access Map

 

Please Note: For paddlers not participating in WRC trips, the owner of the shopping mall near Feemster bridge (John Dobbins) is charging $5 per vehicle for parking and loading or unloading boats. If you prefer not to park and pay, you may want to load/unload on the strip between the car wash and the bridge, directly across Hwy 57 on the SE corner of the bridge. After loading or unloading, park your vehicle facing the highway at Brad's BBQ in Moscow (we have permission from Brad's owner). Please be sure that you don't interfere with their customers. It is a short walk back to the bridge. You can thank the folks at Brad's by enjoying a delicious breakfast or BBQ dinner there. 

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