Elk, North Carolina, US
B) Twisting Falls Gorge: Big Falls (Route 1306) to bridge above Stone Mtn Church (TN)
||IV-V(V+) (for normal flows)
Nate at Big Falls
Nate at Big FallsPhoto of Nathan Helms
Elk River at Big Falls
250 - 700 cfs
Clay Wright contributed on 2002-03-06 02:57:09:
Big Falls (at top of this reach) has been run, with cut head and a broken back (OC-1) but several
clean ones. Some flat, but good rapids, one chunky double ledge, Twisting Falls portage (narrow
and high, but not scetch) then a 10-15' and a ramping 33'er which is sweet!
A long shuttle is the only drawback to this cool run!
Kevin Williams added on 2003-04-21 11:39:02
Amazingly beautiful remote gorge with some truly memorable rapids!
START EARLY to allow time for the monster shuttle (more than an hour each way) and to scout the
many horizon lines, plus the twisting falls portage takes considerable time. Pay careful
attention for this mandatory portage, you really don't want to miss the left eddy after the
class-III drop that leads into a 15' fall and then without escape into the falls proper. Portage
on the left and don't go too high - apparently there is a goat trail right along the rocks above
the drop. we went straight up and ended up on a 2-hour hell hike that ended with tying 11 throw
ropes together to lower the boats back to the river. Yuk!
Since we accidentally portaged all the way around the falls I can't verify this but I was told
that there is a nice 16' fall above a 44' fall that ends the gradient of the run. It looked
clean, but by that time it was dark.
Most drops are pretty straightforward but intimidating class IV and a few deserve a long look.
One not too terribly heinous drop had strainers, undercuts, a sieve or two, piton rocks, a high
pinning potential and ended in an undercut cave. Lots of steep slides (4') reminiscent of Swallow
Falls on the Top Yough in MD. Some are stacked almost on top of one another but all have at least
small pools in between. Look out for wood in the most inconvenient places and be careful of
running out of eddies before drops.
I can't wait to run this river again but next time I'd set shuttle the night before and camp at
the campground along Big Falls Road (leads to the put-in).
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Last Updated: 2008-06-14 13:11:35