Paddling Access To Hurricane Creek
by Randy Mecredy, 2004
“Sign, Sign, everywhere a sign … Sign says anyone caught trespassing will be shot on site … so I stood on the fence and shouted - Hey man, what gives you the right? What gives you the right to keep me out, or to keep mother-nature in…” [Signs, Tesla, 1991]
To see Hurricane Creek, you have two choices: paddle by canoe or gaze over the side of a busy bridge crossing and pray that you don’t get run over by an eighteen-wheeler hauling coal. I prefer to preserve my existence and take the former, but even then one will run the risk of inherent verbal threats and a tongue lashing, not soon to be forgotten, by trolls who prevent access from the roadside and tributaries leading to Hurricane proper.
Occasionally, by executing a carefully thought out plan one might slip past the trolls and successfully launch a canoe or two into the creek without getting caught. Of course, this generally requires advanced planning, a diversion tactic, and a small convoy of vehicles with a shuttle driver who is accustomed to driving under duress and the threat of shotgun blast overhead. Nonetheless, it is possible and the rewards far outweigh the risks – at least for the paddlers that is; the driver is on his own.
However, if you prefer to be less venturesome and yet still desire a leisurely paddle along Hurricane Creek, it is possible to gain access without too much risk to life and limb. One location is to put in on at Highway 216 at the bridge and float down to the bridge crossing on county road 88 (Holt-Peterson Cutoff Road).
Heading from Tuscaloosa on Highway 216 approximately three miles from town, the road crosses over Hurricane Creek. The Alabama Department of Transportation has been working vigorously to construct a new bridge that is not yet open. However, the right-of-way along the construction area lends itself to a relatively easy access to the creek. Although it is not advisable to leave a car at the put-in, particularly on a weekday when construction is in progress, it is possible to park along the dirt shoulder and remain out of the way of traffic long enough to unload equipment.
To run the shuttle, continue to head away from Tuscaloosa on 216. Within a half mile, county road 88 intersects on the left. Follow CR 88 (crossing the railroad tracks) until it comes to a “T” intersection. Turn left onto Holt-Peterson Road and follow it for about a mile. The road approaching the creek begins a steep descent and makes a sharp curve before the bridge. One might notice the “No Parking” signs situated several hundred yards before and after the bridge. However, just past the bridge on the left-hand side there is flat gravel area large enough for two or three cars. The landowner has graciously agreed to permit parking in this area.