|Difficulty:||Class III to IV|
|Flows:||200 cfs (very low) to ~1,500 cfs (~1.4' to 6'). Check out American Whitewater's current flow gauge.|
|Put-in:||Turnouts just above the bridge upstream of Bald River Falls|
|Take-out:||Bridge just downstream of Bald River Falls|
|Shuttle:||2.1 miles (5 minutes one way)|
|Season:||Winter/Spring from rain (with occasional runs in Summer and Fall when storms permit)|
|Featured in Video A Wet State #97|
|Written:||© 2014, 2015|
The Tellico is a classic and a staple of the Tennessee boating community. Each winter, once it gets charged it tends to run (at some level) of just about the entire season. My first day here was a desperation day. I hadnít boated in 3 weeks and was about to head off on 2 weeks of business trips followed by a trip home to California for the holidays. With my desire to get 50 new runs this year my window was closing, so #49 was a very low (1.4í) Tellico day in the morning prior to a Thanksgiving feast with friends.
At the very low flow I thought the run was fun, certainly better than nothing and surprisingly not as abusive as I would have thought. We ran 3 laps which gave the day a worthwhile feel. At this low flow I would say that Baby is perhaps one of the best first time waterfalls to run. A friendly lip allows for good speed and boofing. At the low flow the recovery pool also exists.
I have been told though at the higher flows Baby Falls can generate a large boil and has been the site of some bad swims at the flows around 1,000 cfs. At these flows the more common line is on the far right edge rather than the main spout in the middle. Hopefully one of these days I can update this with first-hand knowledge.
Update: I got back in here now several times. Most recently at 2.85' on the online gauge (810 cfs). I was anticipating that the river would feel full and holes would become powerful etc. Baby's definitely had more of boil in the landing, but the rest actually felt a little scrappy. I have heard around 4' it starts to become a little meaner. But yea, I was surprised that with 4x the water of my first descent that it still felt rather low. Good to know though, it handles its water really well!
Note: If the water is up and you have the time, continuing down through the Middle Tellico section is a great way to extend the day with 4-5 more miles of class II+ to III.
- Dirty S (III-). A congested drop that can be run straight down the right channel between rocks
Not far downstream is another drop which can be run far left or right. Not overly clean either way...
- Middle Ledge (III-). Middle ledge was straight from a pool. We ran left of center off a nice kicker which set easy boofs. At the low flow we also ran it backwards.
- Baby Falls (III+ to IV-). We entered far right and moved back to the left to boof the main spout of water. There is also a line on the far right that is the high water line. Portage on river left if so inclined. The falls is maybe 10 feet tall.
Diaper Wiper (III+). Immediately below is Diaper Wiper, a slide rapid with one pin spot in the middle. Most people either run down the right or far left. The far left has a nice eddy half way down to catch and peel out of.
- Bald River enters on the left with its spectacular Bald River Falls. If you are warm and want another waterfall, you can climb up to the shelf 10 feet up and peel out to run the bottom part of it. Nice photo op.
- Jaredís Knees (IV). The river saves its hardest for last. This is a long multi move rapid with some great boofs. We started left and then ended up running down a ramp. With more water there is a good boof to exit on the far left, but at the low flow I preferred moving back to the far right to exit. The take-out bridge is then in-sight.
For more details on the run, see the AW write-up...
Take-out: From the town of Tellico Plains, take TN-165 4.5 miles east up river. When the river tries to bend away from the river, turn right on River Rd to continue traveling upriver on the smaller two lane road. Follow this 5.2 miles and park just past the bridge that crosses the river.
Put-in: Continue up River Rd for 2.1 miles until you cross the next bridge crossing the river (not the Bald River, but Tellico). 100 yards upriver there are a few turnouts that provide nice access to the river.
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