Tennessee RiverLine Partnership

What is the Tennessee RiverLine?

The Tennessee RiverLine is a vision for a continuous system of multi-modal trail experiences such as paddling, hiking, and biking along the 652-mile Tennessee River from Knoxville, Tennessee, to Paducah, Kentucky.  The concept for the Tennessee RiverLine was first proposed in 2016 by a student in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, School of Landscape Architecture.

The Tennessee RiverLine initiative is led by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in collaboration with the Tennessee RiverLine Partnership.  River communities that are invested as part of the Tennessee RiverLine benefit from economic development and entrepreneurship opportunities, quality of life amenities, and increased access to river experiences that improve public health and generations of river advocates that are active participants in its stewardship.

The vision is to

  • Celebrate the beauty, diversity, and history of the Tennessee River Valley;
  • Connect the people and communities of the Valley to each other, our river heritage, and the Tennessee River landscape; and
  • Catalyze new investments, economic opportunities, social health, and ecological stewardship.


Phase II - Paducah/McCracken County Named in the Tennessee RiverTowns Program

we've been selected graphicOn October 22, 2020, Paducah-McCracken County officially was named as one of the 15 Tennessee River communities selected for the inaugural cohort of the Tennessee RiverTowns Program.  Paducah-McCracken County and Calvert City are the only Kentucky communities in the Program.  We are now beginning our journey to become an official Tennessee RiverTown and part of the Tennessee RiverLine, North America’s next great regional trail system incorporating a continuous system of paddling, hiking and biking experiences along the Tennessee River’s 652-mile reach.

Paducah's involvement in the Tennessee RiverTowns Program is a game changer.  The opportunity to enhance recreational use of the natural resource we've been given has the potential to make Paducah an even better place to live and visit.  We are excited to have our neighbors in Calvert City join us on this endeavor. --Paducah Mayor Brandi Harless

To celebrate being selected for the Tennessee RiverTowns Program, join representatives from the City of Paducah, McCracken County, River Discovery Center, and Calvert City on Wilson Stage located on Paducah’s riverfront at 2 p.m. on Friday, October 23.  Attendees are asked to wear facial coverings and maintain social distancing during the celebration.  If rain is in the area, the event will be moved indoors to the River Discovery Center located at 117 South Water Street. 


Phase I - Paducah/McCracken County Selected as Pilot Community for Tennessee RiverLine Partnership

Paducah/McCracken County started this journey as a Pilot Community for the Tennessee RiverLine Partnership.  During the summer of 2019, Paducah/McCracken County and four other selected communities along the Tennessee River helped develop the vision of the Tennessee RiverLine, North America’s next great regional trail system by sharing feedback and new ideas.  Paducah applied to the Pilot Community Program because the "River" is Paducah’s heritage and a key economic driver for our manufacturing, logistics, and tourism industries.

As a Pilot Community with the Tennessee RiverLine Partnership, Paducah/McCracken County focused on three elements: 

  1. Community leader workshop (held August 14, 2019);
  2. Community engagement event (held August 15, 2019; and
  3. Survey and engagement tool (online survey tool is called River Gauge). 

A summary report of the feedback collected during the pilot program including project recommendations focusing on recreation, stewardship, and river access can be found at Tennessee RiverLine Pilot Community Report.  Feedback gathered during the pilot community program period was used to shape the Tennessee RiverLine vision and identify local pilot projects for implementation.

"The RiverLine Project will help us work together on seeing the untapped potential of our river and to advance projects that further the work we’ve been doing to transform our community, grow our local economy, and shape the environments we live in."

Why Select Paducah?

Investment:  Over the past seven years, Paducah has invested $7.4 million in infrastructure to support recreational activities along our riverfront.  This investment includes

  • More than 4 miles of Greenway Trail with expansion underway and plans to connect to the McCracken County Trail System;
  • A 340-foot Transient Boat Dock which received the Boater's Choice Award in 2017 and 2018;  
  • A five-lane public boat ramp (Ohio River Boat Launch)  that supports a variety of personal water craft;
  • A tie-up location of riverboat cruises at the foot of Broadway. Approximately two dozen riverboats visit Paducah's historic downtown annually.

Strategic Plan Initiatives:  The City of Paducah’s 2019 Strategic Plan identifies continued riverfront development.  Paducah, working with McCracken County, has taken ambitious steps toward implementation, including the recent local adoption of Paducah’s first Tax Increment Finance District. 

Connection and Future Opportunities:  The Tennessee RiverLine Project connects our community to other communities along the river that have a shared history and will help us envision a more vibrant riverfront.  A riverfront that enables all of us to come not just to the river’s edge but to get onto the water and experience Paducah from the river, looking back onto the land.  If we change our perspective of Paducah by experiencing it from the river, what new opportunities will open up to us?  Opportunties could look like these options: 

  • New recreational opportunities such as kayaking, canoeing, and other forms of human-powered boating; 
  • A marina that accommodates a greater variety and number of vessels;
  • Education, restoration, and stewardship of the vibrant fish and plant life under the water that we don’t see every day; 
  • New opportunities to show our region the importance of the river industry, its role in moving everything we touch and buy, and how there is a pathway to good, highly skilled jobs already here in Paducah.

Pilot Communities

The Tennessee RiverLine Partnership selected the Pilot Communities from a pool of 17 applicants.  The five Pilot Communities are as follows:   

  • Paducah/McCracken County, Kentucky;
  • Roane County, Tennessee;
  • Bridgeport, Alabama;
  • The Shoals, Alabama (Florence-Muscle Shoals MSA); and
  • Benton County, Tennessee. 

Resolution and Celebration (March-May 2019)

An event was held May 15, 2019, at the River Discovery Center to celebrate Paducah/McCracken County's selection as a Pilot Community.  The celebration included City of Paducah and McCracken County representatives and partner organizations including BikeWorld, Hooper’s Outdoor Center, River Discovery Center, and Seamen’s Church Institute.

The Paducah Board of Commissioners approved a joint resolution with the McCracken County Fiscal Court to apply as a Pilot Community at its March 26, 2019, Commission meeting.

Vision Map

Tennessee RiverLine Map