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Float #85: Tuckasegee River

26 Sep

Dillsboro to Barkers Creek


Tuckasegee River
Swain County, North Carolina
Thursday, August 15
5 Miles

After rafting the Pigeon river on Tuesday, we took a day of rest of Wednesday and did nothing. Well, nothing except leaving Asheville and our wonderful hosts, Chris & Cynthia to drive to the Deep Creek campground at Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We picked a nice spot right by the creek and set up camp, drank some beer and made a delicious beef stew in a dutch oven over the campfire. We needed our rest because the next day we tackled some beginner whitewater rivers with our own kayaks. The only whitewater DW and I have ever done in our own boats is the Millstream Gardens section of the St. Francis river. Last time we vacationed in North Carolina, 6 or 7 years ago we floated the Nantahala in a funyak (a two person inflatable kayak/raft hybrid). It was a lot of fun and we knew we wanted to do that again. After some research we decided the Tuckasegee river was also a good choice for some beginner whitewater and it was very close to our campground.

We awoke the next morning and headed toward Dillsboro where we purchased a shuttle from a local outfitter, set up our gear and were on the water by mid morning. The water temperature was much colder than any of the rafting trips we had been on and I was glad to have my skirt because we were going to get splashed! The Tuckasegee was a good choice to warm up our skills for whitewater. The river here has long, calm stretches intermixed with some class II drops and fun, small waves.

The bridge at Whittier access

The bridge at Whittier access


Jake practices his surfing

Jake practices his surfing

A small drop

Looking upriver

DW surfs the rapid

DW surfs the rapid

Railroad bridge

Railroad bridge

The first few rapids were simple shelf drops that posed no problem. We had fun surfing the rapids and spent a good chunk of time doing so. After we passed the railroad bridge the drops became a little bigger and the rapids were closer together. The river flowed around outcroppings of boulders and we had to pay attention to find the best route through the rapids. There were a few that splashed me pretty good, but overall it was an exciting but easy stretch of river.





The most difficult rapid was Double Drop, a nice drop with a big wave. A rafting outfitter photographer was stationed here so we all got a nice photo of ourselves paddling through. Double Drop was a good reminder to always paddle through a rapid. If you aren’t paddling, the river is faster than you and it will take you where it pleases. If you paddle there is a better chance you can control where you are going!

Me shredding the gnar on Double Drop

Me shredding the gnar on Double Drop





After Double Drop there were a few more class II rapids before we arrived at our take out at Barker’s Creek. It was an excellent morning on the river and a lot of fun. We loaded up our gear, ate some lunch and headed to the Nantahala for our second whitewater adventure of the day. The Nantahala’s waters were slightly high and the waves were big. Experiences were had by all.

Critter Count: Herons, Osprey, 1 Bald Eagle, Turtles