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The South Fork of the Mills is a rarely run gem in the heart of Pisgah National Forest. It features classic Western North Carolina scenery and good whitewater. It is the only stream around that lacks difficult and dangerous whitewater while draining a remote gorge. The area is also steeped in history. The put-in is only a few miles from George Vanderbilt’s Cradle of Forestry.

What Makes It Great

Paddlers will immediately notice the fantastic water quality of the South Mills due to the lack of development in the watershed. Drifting downstream, surprisingly good, pool-drop whitewater leads to an obvious horizon line. This is the sliding entrance to High Falls, a twenty-foot cascade that lands on a rock. Expert paddlers will find this waterfall intriguing at high flows, when the landing is padded.

Below High Falls, South Mills continues to deliver fun ledges, never exceeding class III. Some scouting may be necessary, primarily to look for wood.

A spectacular rock wall on river right drops straight to the water about six miles into the trip. After the wall, the river slowly mellows out as it meanders toward Turkeypen, where most boaters will take out.

If the twelve mile paddle leaves you hungry for more, consider the car-less shuttle. Run back to your car on the South Mills Trail and then climb the Cantrell Creek Trail to Horse Cove Gap. Forest Road 5018 will bring you back to the put in. The twelve mile run climbs significantly and will take a couple of hours.

Don’t try to run or bike back up the entirety of the South Mills Trail. It will be flooded during good paddling conditions.

Who is Going to Love It

Strong class III boaters are going to have the most fun on the South Mills. The whitewater is reminiscent of Spring Creek in Madison County but the river is longer and more exposed due to the isolation of the valley. Class IV paddlers will not find the river particularly challenging, but will still enjoy the solitude and beauty of the drainage. High Falls will provide entertainment for even the most jaded hair boater. The multisport athlete is going to get the most out of this run. The trail run shuttle eliminates the need to spend several hours in the car. The running will be soggy, but the trails are some of the best in Pisgah.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From Asheville, take 280 South to FS 297 (Turkeypen Rd). This is the Turkeypen Trailhead and the South Mills takeout. Walk the half-mile trail down to the river to ensure you don’t miss the takeout. Return to 280 and turn south toward Brevard. In five miles, turn right on 276 North and follow it 11.5 miles to FS 1206 (Yellow Gap Rd). In 3.5 miles bear right on FS 476. Follow it to the dead end where you will see the river.

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Featured image provided by Adam Herzog

A kayak or paddle board can provide years of great times on the water. Choosing the right one can be a challenge. In addition to free community demo days on the water (like Paddlefest at Lake Julian on May 6), we also offer our demo kayaks and stand up paddle boards for rent. Through April 30, our kayaks and SUP rentals are 50% off!

Kayak and paddle board rentals are available at our flagship location in South Asheville on 1378 Hendersonville Road. They are available on a first come, first served basis and are available for flat water, whitewater, and recreational water surfaces. A complete list of our boats is available below or here.

Kayak + SUP Demo Rental Prices

  • $12.50/day, Monday-Thursday (through April 30, $25/day after)
  • $20/day, Friday-Sunday (through April 30, $40/day after)
  • A paddle and PFD are included, based on availability.
  • If you decide to purchase a boat, we’ll deduct one day’s demo rental from the price!

You’ll need an ID and credit card to rent a demo kayak or paddle board. You’ll also need to sign a release form. Save time by bringing a filled out copy with you. We do not have racks or trailers for rent, but we do sell boat straps. For FAQs, click here.

 

Fishing Kayak Rentals

  • Native Propel Pedal Drive 501
  • Native Slayer Propel 10
  • Native Titan Propel 10.5
  • Native Titan Propel 12
  • Native Titan Propel 13.5
  • Native Ultimate FX 13.5
  • Native Ultimate FX 12
  • Native Ultimate FX 15
  • Native Slayer 12
  • Native Slayer 12 Pro
  • Native Ultimate FX 15 Tandem

Recreational Kayak Rentals

  • Liquidlogic Marvel 10
  • Liquidlogic Manta Ray 12
  • Liquidlogic Coupe
  • Liquidlogic Inuit 12.5
  • Hurricane Santee 116 Sport
  • Hurricane Santee 126 Sport
  • Hurricane Skimmer 120 Propel
  • Hurricane Skimmer 116
  • Hurricane Skimmer 128
  • Hurricane Skimmer 140 Tandem

Crossover (Whitewater/Flatwater) Kayak Rentals 

  • Liquidlogic Remix XP 9
  • Liquidlogic Remix XP 10

Stand Up Paddleboards

  • Liquidlogic Versa Board

Touring Kayak Rental

  • Hurricane Sojourn 146

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Image for French Broad Paddle Trail

Primarily a popular whitewater rafting destination, the Pigeon River is a dam controlled river that winds its way through North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee before emptying into the French Broad River.

What Makes It Great

Situated along the Smoky Mountains, the Pigeon River provides beautiful views as you make your way. Paddlers along the Upper Pigeon will brag about the famous whitewater encountered — Roller Coaster, Powerhouse, Lost Guide, and many more that will keep your energy high and your skills tested. The Lower Pigeon provides a much better experience for the paddler wanting to become more comfortable with intermediate whitewater, with many calm sections and rapids from class II/III.The Pigeon River has impressively overcome quite a bit of environmental damage over the last two decades. It used to be an extremely polluted waterway with rapidly decreasing biodiversity, but now it has healthy fish populations (which anglers take advantage of) and a growing recreational presence.

Who is Going to Love It

For thrill seekers and more experience paddlers, you’ll want to choose the Upper section of the Pigeon because it has a lot of fun play spots and about five miles of Class II-III+ rapids. For novice paddlers or those simply looking to soak up the scenery, the Lower section of the Pigeon provides four miles of family friendly flat water where swimming is encouraged.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Public access along the river is primarily limited to bridge crossings and small pull-offs along the roads paralleling the river. There are a few primitive launching areas for canoes and other small boats.For the Upper Pigeon- Parking can be found by taking I-40 to exit 451, taking the bridge and turning up river. Take Waterville Road and you will see a parking area/put it. More information can be found here. For the Lower Pigeon, head towards Hartford, and park at any of the put-ins near the rafting outfitters.

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Featured image provided by Jared

Hide A Boat isn’t just a fun way to sound Canadian. It’s an easy way to purchase an awesome gift and keep it hidden even if you’re personally at a loss for space. It’s a service we offer all year, but comes in especially handy during the holiday season.

Just stop in our flagship store located in South Asheville’s Parkway Center on 1378 Hendersonville Road. Our team of experts will help you choose the perfect recreational, whitewater, or fishing kayak or SUP from LiquidLogic, Native Watercraft, NRS, Perception, or Wilderness Systems. You’ll even get 20% OFF all paddling accessories and free installation of any Thule rack system purchased at the store ($75+ value).

We’ll store your purchase for free until you’re ready to pick it up. Or, better yet, we’ll deliver it for free within 20 miles of our store! Let us do the work while you wait to collect your hugs.

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See any team member for complete details.

It’s common knowledge that people who love their Chacos really love their Chacos. They’ll wear them anywhere while doing just about anything—from rock hopping, to running errands, to participating in life events as traditionally ‘non-Chaco’ as they come (like getting married, for instance). The original Chaco sandals were designed for river guides, and to this day they still perform exceptionally well in water. But true “Chaconians” love to wear them across all disciplines (hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, kayaking, to name a few) and in all seasons.

Yes, Chaco now makes closed-toe shoes and hiking boots constructed of high-quality leather and suede that offer additional protection for adventures you’re not willing to risk losing a toe for…but let’s talk about the sandals.

See, Chaco sandals have earned a reputation for exceptional durability and it’s not uncommon that a pair can go 10 years without the footbeds or straps needing to be replaced. But as any Chaco fan can tell you, all that relentless use over a long period of time can leave them with a pretty distinct and funky smell. Don’t act surprised. We know you know what we’re talking about, and we’re trying to keep your friends from having to host an intervention.

Here are some insider tips for cleaning your Chacos. Your feet will be happier for it—and your tent-mates will be happier too.

Jake Wheeler

Don’t be afraid to throw them in the laundry (but not the dishwasher)

Chaco recommends occasionally throwing your sandals—provided they’re not the leather kind—in with a load of laundry for a gentle cycle in cold water with a mild detergent (read: nothing that contains chemicals that might eat at the straps). Do not bleach! After letting them air dry, they’ll be good to go on your next outdoor adventure.

Between washings, you can try wearing them in the shower now and then to keep skin cells from building up in the grooves of the footbed. Yeah, ew. This sounds like the lazy-man’s version of actually washing them, but it works surprisingly well.

Whatever you do, do not put your Chaco sandals in the dishwasher or in the dryer, as the heat can cause the adhesive in the outsoles to break down. You can’t un-melt glue, and your sandals won’t be as fun to wear if the soles fall off (or halfway off), so heed our warning on this one. Just let them sit in a nice, sunny spot for a while and they’ll dry off pretty fast.

“Floss” the straps

Flossing isn’t just for teeth: This handy technique can also remove dirt that gets stuck where the shoe’s webbing and straps thread through the midsole, which can trap odor and cause the adjustable straps to stick. If that happens, the company suggests “flossing” the straps—squirting fabric softener into the strap slots and pulling the straps in and out to remove the offending grit. This is actually one of the primary reasons for smelly Chacos and why some sandals still retain an unpleasant aroma even after washing.

If you’ve never done it, or if the sandals are old, it can be pretty tough to move the straps, but just be patient and make sure the straps are thoroughly wet first. The Z-series sandals feature one (or more) continuous straps that pass through the sole multiple times, which is what allowed you to adjust the fit of the straps to your feet when you first bought your sandals. All you’re doing here is moving the straps in and out of the sole so you can clean whatever is building up down there.

Flossing the sandals also keeps sand and grit trapped in the footbed from slowly sawing their way through your straps. Some people do this every time they wash a pair of Chacos, but if you keep them generally clean we’ve found that you’ll only need to do it periodically.

Make an easy at-home solution for cleaning

Jonathan Morua

If your Chacos do come to elicit a persistent smell (because they’re comfortable enough to wear for 12-hour-stretches, which you do), don’t fret. Instead, scrub the footbed with a firm brush and a mix of water and baking soda. Many Chacos are sold with an antimicrobial-treated footbeds, but there are special sandal washes that can be applied after purchase as necessary.

Treat the leather extra-special

The leather in some Chaco models needs to be cleaned by hand. To get rid of any accumulated grime, use a damp cloth and a cleaning solution specially designed for leather goods.

That’s it! Like any other piece of essential outdoor gear, if you take care of your Chacos, they will take care of you as you hit the trail (or river or mountain) for countless miles full of adventure. That’s why you bought them in the first place, right?

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This content was produced for your enjoyment, thanks to a partnership among OSM, Osprey Packs, Chaco, and RootsRated.

Featured image provided by Cody Myers

Kids are heading back to classes and Labor Day is on the horizon. That means it’s time for our annual BIG Boat Sale. Don’t miss out on the chance to score major savings! We also have lots of accessories on sale including 25% off our entire stock of Astral PFDs.

Our demo boats include just about every kayak model we carried this year. They’ve been fully tested at our demo days on Lake Julian and through our demo rental program, but still have lots of miles left in them. Choose from boats by Liquidlogic, Hurricane, Native Watercraft, Perception, and Wilderness Systems.

Clearance boats are brand new and include discontinued colors and closeouts. In many cases, we only have one or two left.

UPDATED on August 31: Check out the inventory and prices for available boats below. Just click on the icon.

Demo Boat and Clearance Sale 2017 Updated

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Not much beats a day on the water with friends, but we’ve partnered with Stanley to make any day spent outdoors even better. Purchase any kayak or stand up paddleboard (SUP) before July 31 for your chance to win the epic prize pack below, valued at $400. Stop by our store in South Asheville’s Parkway Center (1378 Hendersonville Road) to check it out in person.

The Stanley brand has a rich 100+ year history. William Stanley Jr. forever changed the way hot drinks were consumed in 1913, when he fused vacuum insulation and the strength of steel in one portable bottle, inventing the all-steel vacuum bottle we know and love today.

In the century since, his vacuum bottle and lunchbox evolved from concept to icon and has become an essential part of workdays, road trips, and outdoor adventures.

The Stanley brand has been part of countless shared memories. The innovative products have powered daily coffee breaks and just as many meals in beloved food and beverage gear. With each passing year, Stanley’s designers continue to push themselves to bring timeless, yet modern, solutions to today’s outdoor adventures.

Loved by generations, it’s about ramping up your time outdoors with gear you can count on from dusk to dawn, from coffee to kick start the day to spirits to cap off the evening.

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Some exclusions may apply. See any team member for details.

Summer’s arrived in western North Carolina and a very wet spring means mountain rivers and streams are higher and faster than they were last year. While that’s a welcome change, the longer days and higher temperatures of July and August bring challenges for anglers.

Warmer water and bright sunshine drive fish into deeper cover, making for a longer and hotter day on the water. That’s what makes this a great time to explore evening-into-the night fishing! A kayak is the perfect vessel for taking advantage of this opportunity as it’s more mobile than standing on the shore and bounces off rocks much better than a fiberglass hull. You’ll also find just about as many fish biting as an early morning outing.

Night fishing isn’t for everyone and introduces new elements of risk such as loss of visual cues and predators that like to hunt in the darkness. It can be a welcome change for those with busy schedules and allows a fresh perspective on trips you may have taken dozens of time under the sun. Before you head into the night, take these tips into consideration.

Plan Ahead

When picking your night spots, stick to familiar areas. Any body of water will look brand new at night, even if you’ve paddled it many times before. Make note of landmarks and bring a buddy, if possible. Two anglers can cover more water and watch out for each other.

Grab the Right Gear

You’ll need a few basic tools, most of which you already have. Essentials include a PFD, a GPS to steer clear of rocks and pinpoint fishy water, a radio to communicate with fishing partners in case you get separated, highly reflective flag, and a good light. Light will keep you visible to other anglers, recreational paddlers, and boaters. A 360-degree light elevated from the deck of your kayak, headlamp, and floating flashlight are all good recommendations. A hand-crank flashlight or lantern isn’t a bad idea, either. You should always wear a PFD when you’re on the water, but going without isn’t even an option for night excursions. Even if you don’t plan to be out after sunset, prepare for it.

Turn on Your Lights Before It Gets Dark

Always check your gear before getting on the water to make sure it’s charged. Turning on your lights early means less scrambling as the sun goes down and less chance of finding yourself night swimming instead of night paddling!

Have Fun!

The best fishing usually occurs at least an hour after the sun goes down, so don’t get discouraged if you find it dying down. The fish will be biting again soon! Of course, this advice can only go so far. You’ve got to get on the water and try yourself.

Be sure to check local regulations about operating watercraft between dusk and dawn as they vary across the region.

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We’re celebrating summer’s arrival with seven days of of our best deals of the season. There’s no better place to be than under a mountain summer sky or on a western North Carolina river during the season that’s all about enjoying the outdoors. Enjoy the preview below, but check daily for additional offers!

  • June 21 – $100 gift card with the purchase of any stand up paddleboard (SUP)
  • June 22 – 30% OFF select Osprey packs
  • June 23 – 30% OFF entire stock of Western Mountaineering
  • June 24 – 15% OFF all fishing kayaks
  • June 25 – Spin the Wheel of Deals to save up to 30% OFF
  • June 26 – BOGO 50% OFF all camping furniture
  • June 27 – 20% OFF entire stock of Kelty and the Wander Lost Tour

June 27 – Built to Wander

The Deal: We’re closing the 7 Days of Summer Sale out with a double dose to take you through the week. GearJunkie and Kelty are rolling into our store in South Asheville’s Parkway Center (1378 Hendersonville Road) for the Wander Lost Tour to prove outdoor fun can be found anywhere. The free celebration includes food, drinks, interactive presentations, and 20% off Kelty gear all day.

Bonus Deal: Stop by for lots of Kelty prizes and secret sales you’ll only find in the store.

June 26 – Relax!

The Deal: From festivals to barbecues to concerts to chilling, a comfy place to perch is a luxury that makes for an enjoyable summer. We’ve got a HUGE selection of loungers, love seats, rockers, chairs, and more. Buy One, Get One for 50% off on the entire selection of camp furniture (excludes hammocks).

Bonus Deal: Take 30% off select outdoor shoes from Columbia and Adidas. Take them with your new camp chair to these 8 Off the Beaten Path Festivals.

June 25 – Press Your Luck

The Deal: Step right up! Spin the Wheel of Deals to take up to 30% off an item (some exclusions), 10% off your entire purchase, free gear, and more. Everyone gets a spin, so brush up on your whirling skills!

Bonus Deal: Hit the top spots to paddle in the region. Save $100 when you take $50 off the Perception Pescador and get a free paddle! (12.0 is $579, 10.0 is $479.)

June 24 – Eco-friendly Fishing

The Deal: In the past decade, kayak fishing has grown from an under-the-radar trend to a bonafide way to spend three seasons on the water. It’s relatively low cost of entry, eco-friendly form of exercise, and ease of access to remote waters are just some of the reasons you should give it a try. Take 15% off fishing kayaks (paddle and pedal) and have fun exploring summer on the water.

Bonus Deal: Take 30% off RinseKit. No pumping or batteries are needed with this pressurized, portable shower and hose that’s great for camping, a day at the lake or beach, or spraying down a kayak.

June 23 – Made in the USA, Made for Camping

The Deal: Western Mountaineering has never faltered from its founders’ vision of uncompromised excellence. A dedicated search for the finest raw materials, meticulous design, and unsurpassed workmanship provide sleeping bags for any event, outing, or expedition. Save 30% on these awesome sleeping bags from a small independent factory in San Jose, California.

Bonus Deal: We had such a good time with our Osprey promotion yesterday, we’ve extended it through Monday!

June 22 – Backpack for Less

The Deal: Osprey makes very comfortable packs with the Aether AG 70 and Ariel AG 65 named Outside magazine’s 2017 Gear of the Year. Shop several of our favorite modes from this innovative brand for 30% off, a great deal for seasoned adventurers and beginners alike.

Bonus Deal: Make the hike to the waterfall even better with 30% off select outdoor shoes from Columbia and Adidas.

June 21 – What SUP?

The Deal: Score a bonus $100 gift card when you purchase any stand up paddleboard (SUP). Choose from NRS’ Thrive and Mayra (inflates/deflates in under 10 minutes for easy transport and storage), Perception’s Jetty (great for beginners), and Liquidlogic’s Versaboard (functions superbly as a SUP and fluidly as a sit-on-top kayak). Use the gift card on a paddle, PFD, water-ready shoes, or anything else in the store – or save for your next visit. Plus, you always get 20% off boat accessories when you purchase a kayak or SUP at Diamond Brand Outdoors.

Bonus Deal: For every women’s clothing or clothing accessory item you purchase, you’ll be entered to win a $100 gift card.

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In-stock items only; no rainchecks. Not valid on previous purchases. Some exclusions may apply. All items not available at all locations. See any team member for details.

Southern author Eugene F. Walter once wrote, “summer in the deep South is not only a season, a climate, it’s a dimension. Floating in it, one must be either proud or submerged.” Perhaps this explains why the waters here are so well-explored and appreciated by paddlers from all over the United States. Despite the fact that proud locals would likely prefer their rivers uncrowded, the word is out: the South has epic rivers.

The rivers and creeks of this region have a very distinctive character. Most of the waterways originate from the Southernmost reaches of the old Appalachian Mountains and plateaus, moving towards the east or the west with rushing speed. Starting off as small streams beneath a canopy of lush deciduous forests, round boulders and well-worn bedrock shape their rapids and hidden waterfalls. They join together and course through gorges, until the gradient subsides as they drop closer to sea level, flattening their waters and encouraging a variety of paddle sports.

With so many options, mild year-round temperatures, and generous annual rainfall, the South is a coveted destination for paddlers of all abilities and passions. In this guide, we’ll work our way through the absolute best Southern rivers for paddling, from beginner to expert level.

The Easiest: Flatwater to Beginner Whitewater (Class I-II+)

Great day on the river with quality people. Highly recommend taking a two man kayak! #GoPro

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1.Chipola River, Florida

Starting down in Florida, a novice paddler can find many opportunities to explore freshwater springs and riverside caves while viewing swamp wildlife and historical artifacts. The enchanting Chipola River in Western Florida is a great way to see the best of what the area has to offer. As part of the Dead Lakes State Recreation Area, there are two sections: the 51-mile Chipola River Designated Paddling Trail and the 4.5-mile Upper Chipola River Designated Paddling Trail, separated where the river disappears underground. Fed by 63 springs, the Chipola has a set of small rapids and is also home to the unique shoal bass.

2. Wateree River Blue Trail, North and South Carolina

Weaving 75 miles through the Carolina countryside, the Wateree River Blue Trail has several sections of gentle rapids and flatwater that are both accessible and worthy of interest. Draining a natural wooded floodplain, the waterway is a haven for wildlife such as bald eagles, otters, and kingfishers. This river basin is one of the few precious places that remain in the Southeast where populations of white shoals spider-lily thrive in decent numbers.

3. Hiwassee River Blueway, Tennessee

Heading West to Tennessee’s Hiwassee River Blueway** **gives you the option to step up to class II if desired. The upper section of the river in the mountains of the Cherokee National Forest is where you’ll find these rapids, and while they appear steep, they are not overwhelmingly difficult. Once you get past the town of Reliance, the river mellows, and floating peacefully past the trees can be a serene experience. The cool water flows year round, downstream of the TVA Apalachia powerhouse.

4. Nantahala River, North Carolina

The Nantahala Gorge is nestled between the North Carolina mountains just outside Bryson City. The walls are so steep here that the sunlight can only make it to the valley floor at high noon, hence the name Nantahala, which is Cherokee for “land of the noonday sun.” At the bottom of the gorge, you’ll find eight miles of mostly class II (+) rapids, with a finale of the class III Nantahala Falls, an optional portage. Cold, reliable water flows year round from a nearby powerhouse, making this a very popular and accessible river.

5. Clear Creek, Tennessee

From a solid perch high on the Cumberland Plateau, the upper stretches of Clear Creek meander downhill through numerous shoals and class II rapids that require precise maneuvering. Adventurous, overnight paddlers will pass caves and unique rock formations along the 20-mile waterway before encountering a class III rapid towards the end. Portage is certainly an easy option for those who aren’t up for the challenge.

The In-Between: Intermediate to Advanced (Class III-IV)

6. Obed Wild and Scenic River, Tennessee

Following Clear Creek downstream will eventually lead to the unspoiled, rugged terrain of the Obed Wild and Scenic River near Wartburg, Tennessee. The longest free-flowing, roadless river in Tennessee looks mostly the same today as it did to settlers in the 1700s. The bottom 10 miles from Obed Junction to Nemo are cradled between 500-foot tall canyon walls and are full of class II-III, with some light class IV rapids. Both the Obed and Clear Creek are remote and will be flowing mostly in the winter and spring, so be sure to dress accordingly.

7. Big South Fork, Tennessee

The northeastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau opens up to the towering cliffs and massive boulders of the Big South Fork, yet another remote Tennessee classic. In the vicinity of O’Neida, this river is the centerpiece of a national recreation area, with class III & IV rapids that significantly step up in difficulty with rising water levels. The waters here are elusive to summer, so cold weather gear is again required.

8. Chattooga River, Georgia

Known as the filming site of the movie Deliverance, the Chattooga River is located near the Georgia town of Clayton, near the Georgia/South Carolina border. Whether paddling the Narrows (class III) or the Five Falls (class IV), the Chattooga is a Deep South Appalachian wilderness classic with year-round water. Summer on the Chattooga is a welcome introduction to running tight lines and slots with precision, a pool/drop contrast to the fluffy, continuous higher flows of winter and spring. Beware of the dangerous siphons that exist within the pot-hole strewn rocks native to this wild and scenic river.

9. Tellico River, Tennessee

The place where the Cherokee once gathered in great numbers is known today as the Tellico River. Just off the Cherohala Skyway in southeastern Tennessee, a small, paved road to a trout hatchery follows the river closely and offers easy access to the scattered waterfalls (from 5-14 feet tall) and continuous rapids along the way. After any decent rainfall, the Tellico will be teeming with paddlers boofing (and plopping) their way down the class III and IV drops. It’s by far the most popular and appropriate place to run a waterfall for the first time.

Getting Tougher: Advanced to Expert (Class IV-V)

Fall Rafting

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10. Watauga River, North Carolina

Most of the solid class IV rapids and drops of the Watauga River lie in North Carolina, but the class V Stateline Falls marks the border of Tennessee. While once regarded as some of the most difficult whitewater in the South, the Watauga remains a classic due to the quality of it’s distinctive rapids. For five glorious miles, paddlers will boof and punch their way downstream, finding clean vertical lines and honing their skills to move forward in creek boating expertise.

11. Little River Canyon, Alabama

You might not expect to find a massive canyon in the corner of Alabama, yet high atop Lookout Mountain near Fort Payne is exactly what skilled paddlers descend into the depths of. At Little River Canyon, the put in is aesthetically marked with a wide cascade of 33 feet, most commonly run on the left, where it is divided into two tiers. It is also common to put in below, where the river begins a complicated route through boulder sieves and sluices known as the ‘Suicide Section.’ The scenery from the bottom is top-notch as Little River gains the volume of many side creeks that appear suddenly from both steep sides.

12. Tallulah Gorge, Georgia

The mighty Tallulah Gorge in Georgia was dry for a very long time before, in the 1990s, Georgia Power began releasing water every spring and fall from the upstream dam. Packing a big punch of 20 class IV-V rapids and no less than six waterfalls in a single mile, the Tallulah’s signature drop is a monster slide called Oceana. Set within an impressive gorge with limited access, the put in requires descending almost 600 steps with your boat while viewing (and bypassing) several large unrunnable waterfalls. Taking out requires paddling across Lake Tugaloo.

For Extreme Experts Only (Class V+)

13. Raven Fork, North Carolina

Once quietly hidden at the southern tip of the Smoky Mountains on the border of the Cherokee Reservation, a little stream called the Raven Fork demands attention. This creek, within its notorious gorge, yields no forgiveness to the ambitious experts who penetrate and plunge the numerous steep descending drops. Rapid names like ‘Mike Tyson’s Punchout’ should clarify this point. Dropping nearly 600 feet per mile, it’s a scary, mysterious place for paddling for most, but for the experienced paddlers out there, it’s a challenging favorite destination when the rain hits.

14. Bear Creek, Georgia

Among the very best of Chattanooga’s steep creek offerings is the dramatic Bear Creek of Cloudland Canyon. ‘The Hair of the Bear’ flings itself from atop Lookout Mountain in Georgia, over many tall, distinctive bedrock drops—the most remarkable being a 50-foot, three-tiered hit called ‘Stairway to Heaven’. Towards the bottom, after merging with Daniel Creek, the ‘Boulder Garden’ begins it’s relentless and powerful tumble to the take out. Eddies and scouting are possible, but the best lines through this maze are behind those who already know the way. Being good enough to run this means you’ll be in the loop when it rains hard enough.

15. Horsepasture and Toxaway Rivers, North Carolina

The finale of this list is shared by the breathtaking Horsepasture and Toxaway Rivers, which could be called the Southern cousins of the Sierra Nevada. The incessant, plummeting gradient of the California-esque Toxaway is unmatched by any other Southern river, while the Horsepasture follows closely behind it. Both rivers are equally inviting, with a sizable picturesque drop starting off the day.

Toxaway is characterized by clean lines over fast slides cradled in smooth bedrock, while Horsepasture is all about linking clean waterfalls in succession. On both of these streams, there are sizable drops that result in nerve-wracking moments. In addition to maximizing the limits of runnable whitewater, paddlers must expect strenuous hike out access, persistent scouting on sketchy terrain, and steep portage routes. For a dose of adventure with quality paddling that demands fitness, experience, and confident class V skills, these rivers are the best practice platform for whitewater expedition paddling in more remote areas around the globe.

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Originally written by RootsRated for Outdoor Sports Marketing.

Featured image provided by Angela Greenwell

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