Tellico - 2. Bridge above Bald River to bridge below Jared's Knee


Tellico, Tennessee, US

Disclaimer

2. Bridge above Bald River to bridge below Jared's Knee (Upper Tellico)

Usual Difficulty III-IV (varies with level)
Length 2 Miles
Avg. Gradient 130 fpm
Max Gradient 160 fpm

GOIN' FOR A SWIM


GOIN' FOR A SWIM
Photo of BABY FALLS by RICK taken 02/06/05 @ 1.45

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
TELLICO RIVER AT TELLICO PLAINS, TN
usgs-03518500 280 - 1500 cfs III-IV 00h34m 193 cfs (too low)


River Description

Warning!
In the light of the recent fatality on the Tellico and a subsequent near-miss, members of the victim's party have requested that strong warnings be placed on the Tellico page (section 2) as follows:
The top drops in the Ledges section (Top Ledge, Middle Ledge, and Baby Falls) become extremely retentive at levels over 1000 cfs (3.5 ft--editor's note). They should be warned that a paddler was killed on January 1, 2011 at the first ledge. Water levels were very high. Also, in my opinion, the Ledges should be considered Class IV+ at these levels.
Thanks!
Charlie Walbridge

Link to accident report from January 1, 2011

GAUGE INFO:

Low 250 cfs
Good 500-800 cfs
High 1000+ cfs

USGS gauge gives levels in both gauge height and cfs.

The minimum suggested level is about 280 cfs. The Upper Tellico can be run much lower (down to 150 cfs) but it is not the same river. No push, lots of scraping, lots of rocks. 300 cfs is an enjoyable low level.


Overview:

The Upper Tellico, also known as the "Ledges" section, is only two miles in length, but the significant whitewater makes it seem longer. A parallel road makes scouting and shuttling easy and this section can be run several times in one day. The Upper Tellico has great scenery, great water, and good drops. This is a classic southeastern whitewater--please don't take this gem for granted!

Rapid Descriptions:
Major Rapids:

Top Ledge (III)
Dirty S (III)
Middle Ledge (III)
Cry Baby (III)
Baby Falls (III+)
Diaper Wiper(III+)(bottom of rapid looking back upstream- - Baby Falls in background)
Jared's Knee (III+ to IV)


The put-in consists of bumpy class II water that brings you to a series of ledges after passing under the first bridge. With a low level, these ledges can mostly be boat scouted to find the best route. At higher flows it's best that you already know your line. The Top Ledge is a six-foot drop that shouldn't present any problems, although river right should be avoided because a pinning potential exists here. You can see the piton/pin rock in this picture. The rock is just under the ledge at the far left of the picture.

Next is Dirty S, named for the way you run this class III drop. Middle Ledge (III) is an eight foot plunge with an automatic boof if run towards river right. There is plenty of calm water between these drops, so they shouldn't surprise you.

After these ledges, you will encounter more class II water and a sharp bend to the left in the river brings you to a short class II+ rapid. Immediately after this rapid be on the lookout for a horizon line. This is Baby Falls (III+ to IV), a 15-foot drop into a pool. Eddy on river right and scout your line. If you run far right, you will practically land into an eddy. If you run the middle, you better have some speed, and the left side offers a sweet boof into the pool below. If you portage, do it on river left. (This is true for all the rapids on the Upper section.) From the pool below Baby Falls you can see Diaper Wiper (class III, IV at higher levels), the next rapid. Run the Wiper far right for first-timers. When you are comfortable with this rapid, you can run it against the river left bank (pic shows looking up from bottom of rapid). The left route will push you into a pillow of water at the bottom, where you'll make a 90 degree turn to the right and head back into the middle of the river. This rapid can be run several ways, but the far right line is easiest at first. Avoid the middle because of a large pinning rock midway through the rapid (shown at the far right of this picture).

Shortly after the Wiper you will see Bald River Falls come in on river left. Pay attention, because the action is about to pick up. About a half mile below Bald River Falls you will enter the first rapid of Jared's Knee(III-IV). There are three distinct rapids at normal flows with the actual Jared's Knee rapid making up the fourth. At higher flows, these three rapids become one big rapid, so make sure you know where you are. At the bottom of Jared's Knee there is an undercut rock on river left, use caution here (undercut is on Louie's left in the picture). There have been several good pics of Jared's Knee posted below, check them out to get a good picture of the entire rapid. After this rapid it is only a short way to the take-out bridge. This marks the end of the Upper section. More class III fun awaits on the lower run.

Hazards:

The Upper Tellico is pretty clean. With the exception of the undercut on river left at Jared's Knee there are no major hazards of this type. Strainers aren't common except after huge storms. Always scout drops if you can't see clearly to the bottom of the rapid.  Please see notes at the top of this run description about the potential for a terminal hole at Top Ledge at high flows!

Boats:

First-timers will probably be more comfortable in creek boats, but experienced boaters make this run in everything.

Put-in and Take-out:

Located in Tellico Plains, TN. Follow TN 68 until you get to Tellico Plains. After you get into Tellico Plains, pick up TN 165 which will take you to the river. The road will split, stay right (still on TN 165). There will be a parking lot on the right side called "Oosterneck." This is the lower run takeout. Passing this parking area, the road will split again. Again stay right. This road parallels the Tellico all the way. You will cross a bridge and see Bald River Falls on your right (80+ feet) with the Tellico on your left. Continue up the road until you cross another bridge. Shortly there will be a pull-off on your right. This is the put-in. The take-out is the bridge after Jared's Knee. For a bit longer trip, boat the class III water below Jared's and take out at Turkey Creek, part of the Lower Tellico run.

Additional Info:

See Julie Keller's excellent article for more info.

See also Trout Hatchery to Bridge above Bald River (Class II-III),
Bridge below Jerod's Knee to Ranger Station (Lower Tellico) (Class II-III), and
Ranger Station to Tellico Plains (Class I-III).


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-02-21 22:41:51

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.1Top LedgeIIIPhoto
0.3Dirty SIIIPhoto
0.4Middle LedgeIIIPhoto
0.5Cry BabyN/APhoto
0.6Baby FallsIII+Waterfall Photo Video
0.7Diaper WiperIII+Photo
1.3Jared's KneeIVPhoto

Rapid Descriptions

Top Ledge (Class III, Mile 0.1)

(RM) 1st Ledge

(RM) 1st Ledge
Photo of Kevin Thomas by Rob Maxwell @ 2.48

The put-in consists of bumpy class II water that brings you to a series of ledges after passing under the first bridge. With a low level, these ledges can mostly be boat scouted to find the best route. At higher flows it's best that you already know your line. The Top Ledge is a six-foot drop that shouldn't present any problems, although river right should be avoided because a pinning potential exists here.

Note: these drops become much more difficult and dangerous at high levels (~1000 cfs, IV+). Top Ledge develops into a terminal hydraulic, guarded by the downstream rocks on the right; it was the site of a high-water fatality on Jan. 1, 2011.



Dirty S (Class III, Mile 0.3)

Secret Slot

Secret Slot
Photo of Mark Neisler by Allison Lowry taken 12/07/02 @ 2.00

Next is Dirty S, named for the way you run this class-III drop.



Middle Ledge (Class III, Mile 0.4)

8 ft ledge

8 ft ledge
Photo of jackson amburn by Pincricker taken 03/07/04 @ 3.2

Middle Ledge (III) is an eight-foot plunge with an automatic boof if run towards river right. At normal water levels, there is plenty of calm water between Dirty S and this drop, so it shouldn't surprise you.

 

 

 



Cry Baby (Class N/A, Mile 0.5)

(RM) Cry Baby - Left Line

(RM) Cry Baby - Left Line
Photo of Kevin Colburn by Rob Maxwell @ 2.48


Baby Falls (Class III+, Mile 0.6)
Click Here For Video

Gordon Byrd running Baby Falls

Gordon Byrd running Baby Falls
Photo of Gordon Byrd running Baby Falls by Omer Hall @ 200cfs

After these ledges, you will encounter more class II water and a sharp bend to the left in the river brings you to a short class II+ rapid. Immediately after this rapid be on the lookout for a horizon line. This is Baby Falls (III+ to IV), a 15-foot drop into a pool. Eddy on river right and scout your line. If you run far right, you will practically land into an eddy. If you run the middle, you better have some speed, and the left side offers a sweet boof into the pool below. If you portage, do it on river left. (This is true for all the rapids on the Upper section.)



Diaper Wiper (Class III+, Mile 0.7)

Cliff Knight left line Diaper Wiper

Cliff Knight left line Diaper Wiper
Photo by Cliff Knight taken 11/24/10

From the pool below Baby Falls you can see Diaper Wiper (class III, IV at higher levels), the next rapid. Run the Wiper far right for first-timers. When you are comfortable with this rapid, you can run it against the river-left bank (pic shows looking up from bottom of rapid). The left route will push you into a pillow of water at the bottom, where you'll make a 90-degree turn to the right and head back into the middle of the river. This rapid can be run several ways, but the far right line is easiest at first. Avoid the middle because of a large pinning rock midway through the rapid (shown at the far right of this picture).



Jared's Knee (Class IV, Mile 1.3)

(RM) Jerrod's Knee from the bottom

(RM) Jerrod's Knee from the bottom
Photo of Kevin Colburn, Sutton Bacon, Chris Gorman and Sean Thompson by Rob Maxwell @ 2.48

Shortly after the Wiper you will see Bald River Falls come in on river left. Pay attention, because the action is about to pick up. About a half mile below Bald River Falls you will enter the first rapid of Jared's Knee (III-IV). There are three distinct rapids at normal flows with the actual Jared's Knee rapid making up the fourth. At higher flows, these three rapids become one big rapid, so make sure you know where you are. At the bottom of Jared's Knee there is an undercut rock on river left; use caution here (undercut is on Louie's left in the picture). There have been several good pics of Jared's Knee posted below, check them out to get a good picture of the entire rapid. After this rapid it is only a short way to the take-out bridge.




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