Deep - 1. Route 1987 (Randleman) to Route 2221 (Cedar Falls)

Deep, North Carolina, US


1. Route 1987 (Randleman) to Route 2221 (Cedar Falls) (Randleman to Cedar Falls)

Usual Difficulty I-II(III) (varies with level)
Length 8.4 Miles
Avg. Gradient 25 fpm
Max Gradient 80 fpm

1st Set of Rapids at Cedar Falls

1st Set of Rapids at Cedar Falls
Photo by Brandon Levi Price taken 08/01/14 @ 130 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-02100500 1.20 - 4.50 ft I-II 00h50m 1 ft (too low)

River Description

The floatable section of the Deep River begins below Randleman Lake, the river generally a flatwater float, but a few notable rapids exist sporadically. This run previously started just below the low-head dam above Worthville Rd (Route 2128), thus excluding 2.2 miles from the presently described run.  To hit every major rapid, a nice ledge is found 300 yards upstream from the Main St. put-in, accessed by walking some foot trails connected to the greenway on the southern side of the river.  I have dubbed this bigger rapid "Peter's Ledge" after the original mill owner. One more ledge rapid just above E. Naomi St, then the paddling gets flat and peaceful again and remains that way until the rapids at Cedar Falls (except for portages around dams....described below).

The Deep River suffers greatly from the stifling number of dams/weirs every few miles.  There are three on this section and all are unrunnable to my knowledge.  The first is found just upstream from Worthville Road at mile 2.2 and can be portaged on either side.  The second is at mile 6.7, found off the end of Franklin Dr.  The last dam is at 8.0 miles, found near James Ray Drive in Cedar Falls and should be portaged river left.

Cedar Falls "Park n' Run" Whitewater Subsection-  This is a micro-run, but it's fairly easy to access, and has some good features for the central piedmont.  The run is only about 2000 feet of flow but drops 30 feet during it's course.  Customary to "ledge" rapids, there are often multiple lines with completely different personalities from one side to the other, and dramatic changes as flow increases. This is a great spot for diverse paddling groups, as you can run it multiple times in different ways, do some playing, with good variety depending on river level.  Honestly, I'm surprised that more people don't frequent this section (BLP).

Approach:  Despite posted signs along most of the riverbank, fishermen and paddlers regularly park on the dirt/gravel pull-in near the Loflin Pond Rd / Cedar Falls Rd intersection.  There is plenty of room and the sheriff's department seems to patrol regularly.  Hiking-shuttle Option 1:  Drop-in anywhere near the bridge and paddle upstream staying River Left for about 100 yards.  Exit out of your boat on the island with the picnic shelter (or just walk your boat across the small braid and begin hiking).  Collect your gear and head west (upstream) of the shelter, looking for a lonesome picnic table next to the woods.  Look closely and find the wooded foot trail. Follow the best path, which usually means bearing right.  The trail is fairly open until the end where it runs into a low bouldery section.  Keep heading upstream until the trail goes back into the woods or forget the first small rapid and put near Camel's Gate.  Option 2:  Park along Wicker Lovell Rd (west) and keep your eye on the purple painted trees (posted) above the old mill races.  The upper mill pond will diverge from the road just before a stand of planted bamboo.  Drop in here and take a meandering paddle upstream in the backwater until you get near the upper (main, #3) dam.  Sometimes the water level will allow you to paddle right into the river, but usually there's a block wall or a few rocks and logs to negotiate. James Ray Dr is a private road and should not be considered for access.

Low-Water Run at 1.2 ft / 130cfs:  There's only so much you can say other than simply follow the main flow.   If you pay attention, you can keep yourself from getting barricaded by shallow rocks. Once you get to the rapid I'm calling "Camel's Gate" (reference to ancient stone gates made to keep livestock out but let camels pass), there's 3 or 4 different ways to cross the ledge.  In any case, you'll want to get toward river right afterwards in order to avoid a long, boney boulder garden on the north side.  A secondary current flows straight down "Southpaw" but the right-to-left run is more fun.  You can also drop off the right ledge, but beware of strainers and trees that can stack up on the downstream side against the bank.  After one more small rapid, there's a relaxed riffle leading you across a easy ledge (playspot at higher levels), with the main flow river left.  Make the next left curve and get ready to run the "Theater", with the best line on river left.  This name comes from the fact that the rapid is tiered and curved like theater seating with a boulder on the northeast side serving as a balcony for observers or rescuers.  Do not approach on far left, as there are several sweeping branches over the river that will dump you at almost all levels.  Enter just left of the rocks and work across the rapid toward the center, curving right to avoid the "balcony boulder".and then take a break in any of the several eddies on both sides. This is a decent playspot when the level gets around 2.5 ft or more.  After that, there are a few diagonal surf lines and small rapids, then you can either go home or pull over left to do it all again.

In my opinion, this section is probably Class II+/III from 400 to 700 cfs.  Southpaw is fairly technical and the current gets pushy enough over 1300 cfs (3.5ft) that it probably begins to approach Class IV status. In addition, high flows create new rapids and make some of the otherwise mundane features a little sticky.  -BLP 11/07/15

According to Paul Ferguson's "Paddling Eastern North Carolina", the rapids at Cedar Falls increase to Class IV as flow goes above 600 cfs (2.5 ft.).

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-01-06 06:01:08


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
-0.3Peter's LedgeN/AWaterfall Playspot
6.8Dam #2N/APortage Hazard
8.0Dam #3N/APortage Hazard
8.1Cedar Falls Put-InN/APutin Access
8.1Camel GateIIPhoto
8.2Easy LedgeIPlayspot
8.3TheaterIIPlayspot Photo
8.4Section 1 TakeoutN/ATakeout Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Peter's Ledge (Class N/A, Mile -0.3)

2nd major rapid downstream of Randleman Dam.  Found just upstream of put-in. Decent hole for some playboat enders and spins near center left.  A very mild surf line is found on river right.

Dam #2 (Class N/A, Mile 6.8)

Near the end of Franklin Dr.

Dam #3 (Class N/A, Mile 8.0)

Dam at Cedar Falls

Cedar Falls Put-In (Class N/A, Mile 8.1)

Alternate put-in if you only want to run the 0.5 mile run of rapids in Cedar Falls.  Park just past a fenced abandoned retention pond, opposite side of the road from the river OR park at the intersection of Jennings Rd. Put in just to the right of the last purple "posted" tree and paddle the old mill pond toward the main dam.  This is a do-it-yourself access, below a stand of exotic bamboo.

Camel Gate (Class II, Mile 8.1)

1st Set of Rapids at Cedar Falls

1st Set of Rapids at Cedar Falls
Photo by Brandon Levi Price taken 08/01/14 @ 130 cfs

1st major ledge below dam at Cedar Falls.  Typically run to the left of the "gate" rock, but you can run center or river right at most levels.  Above 700 cfs/ 3.0' a wave begins to form on river right and Camel Gate proper starts having retentiveness, though snug to the rock.  At high levels, the current is fairly pushy and there is the possibility of pinning a boat in the rock sieve.

Southpaw (Class II+, Mile 8.2)

Second Ledge at Cedar Falls

Second Ledge at Cedar Falls
Photo by Brandon Levi Price taken 08/22/14

Tiered ledge with complex boulder garden.

Easy Ledge (Class I, Mile 8.2)

Sorry for the uncreative name.  This ledge is typically a mild, almost boring feature with a nice little play wave on river right. However, at higher flows (USGS 3.8' or 1500cfs), the center of this ledge creates a good wave-hole with a decent face and foam-pile.  Enders, loops, and cartwheels all possible.  Great eddy service on both shoulders.

Theater (Class II, Mile 8.3)

Lower set of rapids at Cedar Falls

Lower set of rapids at Cedar Falls
Photo by Brandon Levi Price taken 08/22/14

Most confined rapid at Cedar Falls.  Decent playspot forms above 200cfs.  Hard to get in the river left spot at times due to pushy currents.  Very scrapey run on far right, but a runnable sneak line in higher water.  At 1300cfs (3.5') and above, a substantial wave-hole forms 30 yards downstream in the next rapid.

Section 1 Takeout (Class N/A, Mile 8.4)

Cedar Falls Paddler Gauge

Cedar Falls Paddler Gauge
Photo by B.L. Price taken 05/05/16

Take out is on River Left, just before or at the bridge.  Paddler gauge is rough, painted on bridge support. Anything from 1.0 to 2.0 is usually a good level for Class II / III.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 23 2016 (151 days ago)
strattsp (158102)
went to the 'park and run' section at the end of this run to check it out. Level was 1.5 ft and
falling, river was nearly unboatable it was so low.
October 14 2014 (738 days ago)
x (1)
From the dam to the bridge at cedar falls the river jams at class III to IV at levels of 2.5' and
up. Its only about a half mile section though, but well worth it if you live in the area.
June 12 2014 (862 days ago)
David BazemoreDetails
Would love to have someone who paddles this section add some pics and other information to AW about
this run. If you would like to do that please contact me.
June 12 2014 (862 days ago)
lescott (151302)
Be sure that the level at Ramseur is not falling, for Section 1 needs at least 300 cfs to have a
clear path through the boulders and drops. Ramseur read 555 cfs and falling on the afternoon I ran
it, but I surmise that there was less than 200 cfs when I arrived, making the clogged run from the
dam a solid tech 4 with no clear passages on some drops. The last major drop I scouted and,
fortunately, did not run blindly, as the only clear passage from above had a strainer waiting to
decapitate from below.

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