Tuckasegee River (Gorge)
|Stretch:||Dillsboro to Barkers Creek|
|Difficulty:||Class II to II+ (III)|
|Flows:||500 to ?,000 cfs. See the USGS gauge gauge.|
|Gradient:||18 fpm average|
|Put-in:||Access above or under US-23 in Dillsboro|
|Take-out:||Access near Barkers Creek on US-74|
|Shuttle:||4.4 miles (~5 minutes one way)|
|Season:||Rear round from rain and dam release|
The day after we did the Oconaluftee, we woke up at an Airbnb with Jim Janney and Cassie, his wife. The plan was originally going to be to boat the Tuck Gorge with the four of us, and John… the man who was getting married that night. However, the night before, while doing wedding festivity drinking at Innovation Brewery the group size grew to be all of the boater and then a few extra too. So now, the group was maybe 20 big… and since folks went hard the night before, also started an hour late.
This river was a very nice river for its difficulty. The rapids had discrete moves and would prove to be excellent for training. Plenty of nice eddys to catch, attainments, and surfs. Although the river is not super wildernessy, the one nice perk is that you get to drive by the set of where the train wreck scene in Fugitive was filmed. That was a nice perk.
Depending on where you put in, you can skip the biggest rapid… I have both put ins marked in the map for reference. Downstream, a mile and a half of class I to II- greet you to warm up on before the bigger drops start coming at you. For reference, we had 1,500 cfs which was a fun flow. It was higher the day before by about 1,000 cfs which would have been more fun for our group. But as it was, there were plenty of places to surf or slice so a nice day was still had. I think our flow is probably a more ideal level for the typical user of the river.
- Dillsboro Drop (III). So, our group put in below at the other put-in, so we didn’t actually get to run this drop. It looked bigger than everything else on the run, but also looked great. The site of an old dam, there is a ledge hole on the left 75% of the river that at some flows is boofable, or a channel down the right. Easily scoutable from the shore on either side.
- Fugitive Train Wreck. Some super mellow class II- rapids fill this part of the river, but the real treat is the “train wreck” that was the site of the movie scene in the Fugitive, where Harrison Ford escapes the bus which then is crushed by a train causing a wreck. I love that movie, so that was a nice surprise for me!
- First Hole (II+). Immediately below the railroad bridge, is the first real rapid. A tongue leads to a wave/hole that can be run left or right for easiest passage. Note, the right then makes a turn against the wall which can be tricky.
- Second Hole (II to II+). It is straight forward if you run straight down the middle. Or you can add spice to it by catching the eddy at the top on the left, and then ferrying over to the rock midstream. Great training.
- Double Drop (II). OK, I might be off on the naming that American Whitewater uses because their mileage is very different. This rapid was straight forward enough, we boofed into some eddies on the right shore, but you can also just run down the middle. The second tier was also straight forward.
- Sling Shot (II+). Again, straight forward if you run down right of center or right. Or, there was a rock garden on the left half of the river that you could weave in and out of to add some spice.
Take-out: From Sylva, head west on US-74. After 5.8 miles, you will need to make a u-turn just after the “biggest flea market in NC” to get to the access area just downstream of Barkers Creek Rd.
Put-in: Ok, head upriver on US-74E. After 2.9 miles, take US-23 South towards Dillsboro. After 1.0 miles, just before crossing the river, turn left on N River Rd. Now, 1) for the lower put-in, take the first left on Webster Street and another immediate left into the put-in access area. 2) For the upper put-in, continue on N River Rd and follow it for 0.5 miles to the access area.
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