Whitewater in NC

Hey guys,

To escape the Florida heat this summer, I’m entertaining the idea of a month in the southern Appalachians.

I’d like to get into whitewater during this month.

Thinking near Asheville, but the rapids are really the destination priority. Can anyone suggest any rivers in that area?

Any multi-day trips near the rapids would be great.

The Nantahala River is one of the …
premier WW spots in NC. -Just don’t go there on a weekend. It is way too crowded

Also the French Broad River which is close by offers great opportunities for multi day trips.

Jack L

A couple more for whitewater
You might also check into the Pigeon, Green, and Tuckasegee Rivers if you have the time. You’ll have lots of options - enjoy! wd

How about some more info?
Do you have any experience paddling whitewater?

Do you have a whitewater boat? If not, what type of craft are you interested in trying?

If you don’t have any or much whitewater experience as yet, you might consider looking into doing a clinic at the Nanatahala Outdoor Center (NOC) near Bryson City, NC. This can work to your advantage if you don’t already own equipment as NOC will provide it for the clinic.

Thanks for plugging that… I may contact your friends if I’m in that area.

Great Area
If you don’t have a boat or much experience, the Hiwassee and Nantahala are great destinations. If you want to raft with family/friends, the Ocoee is close too. There are tons of available runs in the mountains, but only a few have dependable flow, especially in the warmer months. American Whitewater has a nice web site that you might find helpful.

Nanty and Hiwassee are good beginner rivers and I’d put the Tuck a little above them. Pigeon and Ocoee require a higher level of skills.

We could be of more help
if we knew more about your experience and equipment needs.

If you are new to whitewater and lacking equipment you can rent a Torrent sit on top whitewater kayak and gear from Hiwassee Outfitters in Reliance TN and run the Hiwassee which is a nice, user-friendly Class II.

You can also demo a kayak from NOC and run the Nantahala (for a reasonable charge). The Nantahala is a rather pushier river than the Hiwassee, mostly Class II but with a Class II+ at the start and a Class III at the end (both of which can be portaged). Both the Hiwassee and Nantahala are dam release rivers which are going to have flow even in a relatively dry summer. The water comes off the bottom of impoundments and is rather chilly, usually not a problem on warm summer days, but it could be on a cooler rainy day if you don’t have appropriate gear and do a lot of swimming.

If you don’t have equipment it is hard to recommend anything else. If you do, there may be lots of other opportunities but it will depend on natural flow which can’t be predicted in advance.

Yes, both the Pigeon and the Ocoee have scheduled releases but you should stay off both of them unless you have some whitewater experience (or a hell of a spirit of adventure).

The Tuckasegee would be OK in my opinion, and it usually has enough water in the summer. The Little Tennessee might also possibly be running and is one of the rivers in the area suitable for overnight trips.

Some other popular “easy whitewater” runs in the southern Appalachians include the Cartecay (in northern Georgia), the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River (in northern Alabama) and the Conasauga (along the border of southern TN and GA) but the Conasauga is unlikely to have enough flow in the summer and the others may or may not.

The French Broad in NC has a big watershed and will usually have enough flow to run some section of it most summers. It is a bit off the path but Section II of the Chattooga (which flows along the border of SC and GA) would be another possibility.