This trip could easily be a weekend trip as there are many campsites along the river and more than enough to fill several days of paddling. The Watauga Gorge run begins at Guy Ford Road near Bethel and flows into Tennessee. She holds a B.S. "It's not in that category any longer. These days, the motorcyclists are outnumbering the backpackers. There are also a number of free take out sites at the Boone Lake end of the river. Gentry Road Bridge (5.5 miles) There are much steeper things people have run.". "There have been many days this fall when the gauge (for measuring water levels) wasn't even working because the river was so low," Mayfield said. "Once you have more water, it takes on that river feel and the lines become wider. • N.C. 88 Bridge to Wagoner Access Road (5 miles) "It's a solid Class 4 run with a little bit of Class 5 thrown in to keep everyone honest. I would classify the rapids as mostly II with one or two III- including the aforementioned 3' ledge fall. The organization’s website lists directions, descriptions and warnings about particular runs and notes whether current water levels are appropriate for running an individual river. The New River is a gem and the centerpiece of the New River State Park, which has miles of river to canoe and tube and thousands of acres to peruse. New River State Park (ncparks.gov) offers a canoeing trail that’s ideal for the entire family. Experienced kayakers paddle appropriate lines according to a river's flow levels, which are measured in cubic feet per second (cfs). The Watauga river is home to the endangered green floater mussel (Lasmigona subviridis). The Watauga River that flows through Boone gives more experienced paddlers and whitewater enthusiasts a challenge. guest-paddler, Whitewater Kayaking in Chattanooga, Tennessee, 16th Annual Northern Forest Canoe Trail Auction, The Joy of Paddling with a Voice-Controlled Camera. The surroundings are amazing with many cliffs and unusual rock formations including a ledge waterfall. Click here for more details on North Carolina rivers and those below. Winter 2010. • Laurel Creek – slides section near US 321 and Trashcan Falls, Class IV, V. Just like climbing, find a local kayaker to help you navigate the area, find some of the best runs and learn about the interesting local history of the sport. This 1/2 day rafting adventure down the Watauga River provides some of the best family river rafting in America. • J.E. We used a custom waterproof topo map from www.digital-topo-maps.com a wonderful map creation website. We saw cows, horses, deer, many species of bird including many blue heron, snapping turtle, otter, mink, and the ever elusive fishermen. guest-paddler, A self-supported trip created by It's pristine," Isaiah Stronach, a local paddler, said. Runs in and Around Todd • Watauga River – SR 1557 to NC 105 – Red Roof, Class II - IV The rapids are spread throughout the trip with the most exciting being at Sycamore Shoals park. My wife and I paddled the length of the Watauga River from Wilbur Dam to Boone Lake in our two 14' Georgian Bay touring kayaks. Trees fall into the river. Recreation. Check the AW site, guidebooks, Google earth, and get advice from paddlers who have been there! Today, it is considered a classic. • Valle Crucis Community Park to high-water bridge at Watauga River Road For many years, each spring, Belknap would drive from Virginia or South Carolina to kayak his favorite river, the Watauga. This technology and increased boaters' confidence to explore more extreme whitewater areas caused Watauga Gorge's difficulty rating to be downgraded. The entire river is absolutely beautiful. "It's classic whitewater.". There are cabins on the river just below the dam as well as many campgrounds along the length of the river. • Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs. There is no fee to put in below the dam as it is TVA land. With numerous public river access points and several outfitters in the area offering rentals, shuttles and guide service, the adventure on the river is just a short drive or phone call away. Gentry Road Bridge to Fulton Reeves Bridge (3 miles), Calm Watauga River Canoe Runs Through Valle Crucis River & Earth Adventures (raftcavehike.com) rents kayaks and canoes for use on either the New or Watauga rivers. "High water is whole different game. Unfortunately for kayakers, this hasn't been a wet year. "I tell people there are two kinds of boaters - the backpacker and the motorcyclist," Belknap said. During times of lower water levels, Class II rapids are common most of the way. TWRA boat ramps and Corps Of Engineers Watauga River Maps charts below . Launch your canoes at the Wagoner Road Access Area near the park and paddle 5.5 miles to the SR 1595 Gentry Road Bridge for a trip that takes a couple of hours. • Wear your Life Jacket regardless of boat type or difficulty of water. Kayaking through mist around Orcas Island. The lower the water, the steeper the run becomes, almost a creek feel," Stronach said. The speed and movement of the water is greater. The Watauga River winds its way through a remarkable wilderness of dramatic cliffs, twisted mountains, hidden waterfalls and breathtaking pastoral scenery. The river was a great mix of rapids and fast current with some slow spots that would be perfect for a swimming break. • Know the river to prevent unpleasant surprises. Holes become much bigger and violent. The river was a great mix of rapids and fast current with some slow spots that would be perfect for a swimming break. For those with some gnarly paddling skills, the High Country has plenty of rivers to explore that are easily accessible. ", Though Mayfield has paddled the gorge more than 350 times since 1978, he has only run the gorge once since March when "suddenly the river went from running all the time to not at all.". Listed below are some of the “regular” runs along the New River that local outfitters send customers down. If you prefer a guided tour, the company offers trips ranging from two hours to overnight excursions. ", © 2020 High Country Press - WordPress Theme by Kadence WP, Click here for more details on North Carolina rivers and those below. Rentals. Bear left onto Horseshoe Dam Rd., then turn right at intersection onto Wilbur Dam Rd. Church), IV-V (V+) She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. The best time for whitewater action occurs in May and June, when water is rushing out of the mountains and into the rivers. • Watauga River – Guys Ford Bridge to AW Sherwood Horine Access, Class IV+ • Wagoner Access Road to J.E. The 19.4 mile trip took us just under 8 hours with light paddling and a couple breaks. Because of the challenging, continuous rapids, seasoned boaters initiate first timers down, showing them the lines and the surprises of the gorge, such as a drop in a half mile rapid called Edge of the World, where the horizon disappears. and follow for about 3 miles. The gentle river flows through the Blue Ridge Mountains and several states on its way to meeting up with the Ohio River. ", (Stronach explained the international scale of whitewater difficulty ratings and compared Class 1 to waves in a bathtub and Class 6 to Niagara Falls - a death wish.). Below are some of the popular runs in the High Country, which includes river, generic location, name of run and difficulty rating.