Easy Day Trips Bryson City, NC

Going to be spending 3 days in a cabin in the area and we have plans for the train/raft trip on the Nantahala. Noticed that NOC also had a day trip on Lake Fontana and I inquired about that and found they do not allow canoes, only kayaks. So, we like to paddle open boats and would like a Class I river or easy flat water paddle for a few hours one day. Would appreciate any ideas. Thanks!

There are a bunch of places where
private canoes can be put on Fontana.

But I suggest going way down to Alcoa and getting on Lake Calderwood. Almost always full, no bathtub ring. Almost no houses or cabins.

Lake Cheoah is nice. You get on it by an access where 20 Mile Creek leaves the lake.

Santeetlah is OK, but can be busy and confusing.

Sections are rated class l-ll but it’s an easy paddle. From one of those, you can see the train wreck from the movie “The Fugitive.”

2nd Calderwood.
If you get lucky, you can paddle thru the old RR tunnel on the right as you head downstream. In 4 trips,I have been able to do it once. The water is usually too high.

Thank You
Some places for me to check out, now.

Little T, Tuck
If you get enough rain to bring it up above 400-500 cfs, the Little Tennessee is pretty, mostly undeveloped, and has a bunch of recently built river access points every 6 miles or so along Needmore Road (aptly named :). The rapids are all small class 1&2 ledge drops, usually with at least one obvious tongue. The farther upstream you go, the easier and flatter things get. The last access ramp actually is off a little gravel lane near the highway bridge, and if you like flatwater and a steep scramble, you can go all the way to Fontanan and take out under the highway bridge. Depending on how low Fontana is now, though, you’d be hitting a class 3 rapid called the Narrows right before the lake. Or the rapid might be totally submerged if the lake is still at or near summer pool.

The Tuckasegee would be another option. The “gorge” section is class 2/2+, which might be more than you’re interested in, but you could paddle sections above and below the gorge. It’s less scenic but more likely to have water than the Little T, since it’s dam controlled. Folks at NOC probably could advise you on likely access points for those flatter sections.

Thanks, Shawn

– Last Updated: Aug-22-14 11:49 AM EST –

Class II may be a bit more than we're looking for, but hopefully the Little Tennessee will have enough water? "Need More Road," that's funny, I think I'll name OUR road that (LOL)?

My inspiration to buy a canoe was to paddle Calderwood early in the morning while the fog is still low and the sun lighting the sky in those amazing sunrise colors.

Also agree, Lake Santeetlah can be confusing, but fun nontheless

Little Tennessee levels
450-500 is the minimum from a whitewater paddler perspective. ‘Canoe zero’ could be even lower, especially on the flatter sections further upstream. With the river being mostly roadside, you could scout the various sections and decide whether there is enough water to merit putting on.