Curtis Creek, North Carolina, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV+ (for normal flows)|
Mostly this run is tight class IV that becomes harder with higher water, largely due to the propenisty for this run to collect wood. Due to the danger of strainers, you might rank this up into class V, though the rapids wouldn't warrant that classification if it were free of strainers.
A forest service road, aka Curtis Creek Road runs beside this creek all the way into its headwaters. The road, closed from 2004 to spring 2008, is open again. It is a gravel road and is fairly well maintained. In the winter, this road is known for being icy. Almost the entire run (headwaters to U.S. 70) is in Pisgah National Forest.
The gradient is fairly continuous, though there are a few sections where the action picks up a bit. As stated before, the largest danger on this creek is an ill-placed tree across the creek. As of summer 2008, many of the best sections of rapids were choked due to logs.
The creek also has areas which are still recovering from a hurricane of 2004 or 2005; you will see the effects of scoured banks and sometimes piles of strainers beside the creek.
The creek generally lacks larger boulders or bedrock (there are some exceptions), so it develops a very continuous nature when the water is up. Eddies will be small when the water is up and often suitable for only a single boater.
Generally speaking, the higher you go up Curtis Creek Road, the steeper this creek is (there are a couple of decent rapids hidden among some of the lower gradient areas near the campground, however), but also the narrower the stream bed is and the more water is required. Fortunately, it is roadside, so put in where you like (though this might mean a 100-yard bushwhack to get to the creek in some places).
Look for a minimum of 2 inches of rain to fall in a short time period and be there soon after to catch this creek. In the summer, you will probably need a minimum of 3 inches. The drainage area is small (~2 square miles?). The stream's lower sections between the campground and U.S. 70 are popular with fisherman. For about 1 mile of this lower section, it will wind through backyards. The homeowners in this area typically post their property as "no trespassing".
For a map of the area, look here: http://www.cs.unca.edu/nfsnc/nfnc_fishing/curtis_creek.gif
There is a public bathroom at the campground and wonderful camping, too. That's about it for amenities in this area until you get back to Old Fort.
Also check out Newberry Creek -- a hike up affair that joins Curtis Creek where you see the old mill's water wheel.