Gauge Description: There is a gauge painted on the US 64 bridge piling. 6 inchs below 0 is about as low as you want to go. The Rosman USGS gauge is the combined flows of the North Fork and the West Fork. Depending on which stream is putting the most flow in, 350 cfs is roughly equal to about 0 in the US 64 gauge. RIVER DESCRIPTION: The North Fork is a classic North Carolina intermediate/advanced creek. At moderate flows below 6 inches the majority of the run is class 4, with a big class 5 in Boxcar Falls. From Boxcar to about a mile below Submarine the rapids are continuous with lots of class 3 boat scoutable boogie water between the bigger drops. The run is probably a notch easier than the Watauga and a lot easier than the Green Narrows. With the right water levels and some creative shuttle work you can run the nearby West Fork of the French Broad on the same day.Local Expert Harrison Metzger says: I've probably seen you on the N.Fork since I've run it probably 75 times over the past 11 years. I can help with the rapid names. Also I think the size and difficulty of a few of the rapids may not be quite right. The first slide is known as Sandpaper. I don't think it is 20 feet tall. I would say more like 12 feet. Most local boaters call the left side of Boxcar "Blind Date." It is considerably meaner than the right. The first set of rapids below Boxcar is called Island Rapid. There is a huge log that creates the boof on the right. It can be avoided by threading through the boulders at the top of the island and running a set of drops on that side.
The next rapid downstream needs a name. This is the double drop with the slide into the big diagonal hole. Benner's old book referred to the rapid after this as Razorback, but I think that would be a good name for the big slide. I would rate this a III+ to low IV, not IV+ It is pretty easy if you catch the eddy on the right between drops and hit the hole square.
The next rapid downstream was called Razorback in Benner's old book and he rated it a Class VI for some unknown reason. This one is called Water Cannon and I would also rate it Class III-IV. I don't think it is 12 feet tall...I would say about 6 to 8 feet total.
The Clog, yes it is definitely class IV+ with some class V consequences. The worst is the sucking sieve that you have to cross above when moving left after the first 5-foot drop. This can be avoided by running through a tight chute top left, which puts you right into the large eddy partway down. This left hand eddy is a good place to set ropes and scout the bottom half of the rapid. The drop just below here tends to shoot paddlers to the right where there are numerous pinning possibilities at lower water. The hole at the bottom is called the Black Widow and it becomes a keeper at higher levels.
There is a significant rapid missing from the AW description, the next one below the Clog. It is called Vortex, a set of three drops. The first one, about five feet, is run on the left into a left eddy. The second, a shallow scrape of about four feet, feeds the main drop but you can catch another left eddy. The main drop is a series of holes funneling down into a 5-foot slot at the bottom (the vortex) with good eddies on both sides.
Below here is about a quarter mile of fun Class III boogie water to Submarine. There is currently a couple of large trees downstream just below Submarine blocking most of the flow. I hope to go in there soon and cut them out. Submarine is about 9 feet high. The best way to run it is over the slight roostertail at the top with a slight right angle and a strong final stroke to avoid the hole against the rock wall bottom left, which I call the "Closet of Doom." People who go in there tend to get worked and loose their paddles.
The only other comment I have is on water levels. I painted the gauge correlating it to the old Benner gauge which was on the old U.S. 64 bridge that DOT removed a few years ago. Like the Benner gauges it is intended to be read from the bottom of the numbers. So the bottom of 0 is zero, the minimum for a fun run. This equals about 350 or 3 feet on the Rosman gauge. It can be run several inches below 0 but it is not much fun and hard on equipment. I like to have at least 4 or 5 inches to run Boxcar because it gets so rocky at lower levels. Hope this helps.
Also see Chris Bell's Asheville-Area Canoeing and Kayaking Page.
Shuttle info: Take out: You can take-out at the outfitters store at the intersection of Hwy 64 and Hwy 215, but most people just stop in for a quick gauge check. The standard takeout is a wide pull-off on the side of the road near alligator rock. Look for alligator rock to be dangling over the road as you drive upstream. If the river gets out of sight of the road you have gone too far. Put-In: The easy put-in is at the SR 1326 bridge. There is a large gravel area for parking. There is also a short put-in that elminates the flat water at the top of the run, and one large slide. Using the Alligator rock take-out knocks about a mile and half off of the run, bringing it down to 5.5 miles. Using the short put-in takes off another mile, getting the run down to 4.5 miles. The locals use that combo and run multiple laps down the river.
Photo of unknown kayaker in Boxcar Rapid , courtesy of Julie Keller (www.juliekeller.com See Carolina Whitewater, B.Benner.
I've been keeping track of the correlation between the FB at Rosman and the Hwy 64 Gage for about two years. So far the correlation is:
FB@Rosman = HWY 64 Gage
If you run to the lower Alligator Rock takeout, beware of the rapid that has an island with a big rootball in the middle. Last time I was down there (about a month ago) there was a long in the right side making it unrunnable. The left side was sketchy at best, with a few logs. Probably not an issue normally, but GO LEFT! Otherwise, it would be bad, the log is totally across the current only about 8-10" above the water.
Also, if you hike out, this run is pretty fun albeit scrapy at 200cfs. There's a sweet left to right move at Boxcar that is more fun than either the standard line or blind date proper.
The large hemlock log that has been in the Island Rapid below Boxcar is finally gone due to the flooding. It has been taken downstream to the large uncut rock directly below submarine. Beware of this new hazard in the event of a swim out of Submarine. PS the new pictures (RM) of island rapid are not of island rapid. That rapid is Vortex.
Ran it today at 0" and had a blast but had some info to pass along. There are now strainers blocking up the right side of the island below Boxcar. Not sure where the newest one, which makes the drop up against the island impossible, came from. May be part of the old one. Looks pretty tough to get around even at higher water levels as its a pretty big tree. You can head down the left side of the island instead. One other thing is the log at Jammed Pipe is gone and apparently so is the pipe so be careful you don't end up on the left side near that undercut by accident. Trust me its not fun.
At the bottom of the run, below all of the major rapids is a small class 2 rapid that we called Crackpipe because of the steel pipe on river right lodged in the rapid. On the left of this rapid is a major undercut which receives a good bit of the flow and which was the site of two scary pins this past saturday (2/7/04). The rapid will be noticable by the pipe on right, and a dry rock in center forcing you to run left of it. To the left of that dry rock is a small rock splitting the current. Run between the large and small rocks to avoid the undercut that lies to the left of the small rock. This is a scary hazard that comes at an unexpected time on the run (just as you let your guard down post-big drops).
I ran this once at 225 cfs and would consider that a minumum level to get down the river below submarine. Of course there is a takeout at submarine falls that cuts all of the flatwater out of the run.
Re: Asheville boaters, will N Fork of French Broad be an option on Saturday? by roscoepwavetrain May 07 2003, 12:41 GMT New
Re: We went there last night and couldn't find the guage. It was under water! Trip report on upper Davidson... by tallman May 07 2003, 13:14 GMT New
Date: May 07 2003, 14:20 GMT
A buddy and I went up there yesterday as well and ran the river.
We left Greenville around 1:15 and got to the gauge around 2:20. Not bad. It was raining hard on the way up there. I was concerned that it may be too high but the gauge was reading right at a foot. NO PROBLEM! The highest I have run it was 1'10" so I knew we would be fine.
When we got to the put in I noticed that the water was definitely higher than a foot. But surely it wasn't 10" higher so we should be fine. When we got through the first few entrance rapids I was thinking it was higher than 1'10" but Ryan is a good paddler so we should be o.k.
Boxcar was fine and we ran it with no problems. Then we hit the next stretch of rapids and I knew then that the water level was higher than I had ever been on. The routes through the rapids didn't change but rock's that you normally see where gone. The Clog was huge and Midnight hole was gone. It was just a huge wave. We walked Submarine. When I ran it at 1'10" it just pushed everyone into the undercut and it looked like it would do the same thing at the level we were at.
We hiked out and decided to hit it again. I had put a mark on the bank at the put in to get an idea of how much the water would rise in case we did do a second run. It had risen over 6" in under an hour and it was still rising. We didn't have any trouble the first time so we decided to hit it again at this level. Let me tell you. 6" makes a HUGE difference on that river. We eddied out high above Boxcar and walked down to it. It was a monster. The swells would push you back into the hole at the bottom and the water was bubbling up 10' past the end of the drop. We opted to walk that and we were wondering what the rest of the river was going to look like. We blinked twice and we were at the Clog. It was amazing how fast that water was. We entered the clog in the center (like normal) and headed left. We hugged the left bank and again, there was no hole, just a huge wave at the bottom.
We walked Submarine again. I think at these levels that is the worst rapid on the river. We hiked out and stopped by the guage on the way out. The top of the gauge was under the water. I'm guessing it was in the 2'6" range.
Jan 1,2003 - The strainers in Submarine seem to be all gone as of today. Great job Canoeman!
Caution further downstream a riverwide strainer still exsits! You can eddy on river right and butt slide down some rocks into a class II/III current. Be careful please!
I noticed a lot of long logs still in the river, just waiting for the next flush of rain to move them around.
From Canoeman on Boatertalk:
To everyone who boats the North Fork of the French Broad near Brevard, N.C., the big strainers just below Submarine Falls have been removed.
Submarine is the 8-9 foot drop toward the end of the gorge against a rock cliff on the left. A very large tree with about four trunks peeled off the cliff a while back and was blocking the whole river about 50 feet below the falls. Yesterday we spent more than three hours hiking in and cutting the trees out. This involved hanging off the cliff with a chainsaw to cut the trunks, ferrying people to a gravel bar on the far side of the river in my Super Fly rodeo play canoe, and cutting and dragging the trunks to the gravel bar using a come-along and ropes. I spent about 2 1/2 hours on the slippery rocks in my underwear, polartech and bare feet cutting the trees and tying off the ropes so the rest of the group could haul them ashore. At one point I was cutting through a trunk when it broke sending my 12-inch Homelite chainsaw to the bottom of the river. Amazingly, after spending about 90 seconds 3 feet down on the ice cold river bottom, it started right up. I almost froze my ass off, but we got the job done.
As we were getting ready to haul all our gear 1/2 mile straight up to the top of the gorge, I cut a 12-inch tree that was stuck between the large undercut rock in the center of the river and the right shore about 100 feet down from Submarine. Both ends are still there, but you can get around. Beware there are still some logs below the surface against the river-left cliff just downstream of the "Closet of Doom" at the base of the falls. There are also some other strainers left in the easy stuff downstream that we didn't get to for lack of time.
So the next time you paddle the N. Fork you may notice these nasty strainers are gone, and thank your lumberjack boating friends: Lee Belknap and his 14-year-old daughter Liz, Mike Lewis, and yours truly, Canoeman.
At lower flows the right line of boxcar gets really bony. The water barely goes around the rock just before the boof so you will probably end up getting dropped into the meat of the hole. The left line is a little shadier but looks better than the right line at lower flows. When you enter the top of the left line, drive straight down the tongue with lots of speed aiming at the rooster tail so you can get a good boof over the far side of the drop (try and drive out onto the rock face if you can). Oh yeah, and get a good breath before you land because if you don't get far enough out you'll go deep.
7 years ago
by Massey Whorley
There is a gauge painted on the US 64
bridge piling. 6 inchs below 0 is about
as low as you want to go. The Rosman
USGS gauge is the combined flows of
the North Fork and the West Fork.
Depending on which stream is putting
the most flow in, 350 cfs is roughly
equal to about 0 in the US 64 gauge.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
on French Broad, North Fork @Route 1326 Bridge to US Route 64 Bridge
Blind Date on N. F. of French Broad
Dwight Boofing Bird Rock Falls
Box Car- Jan 19- 586 CFS
OC1 in Boxcar Falls
PFD on Boxcar
DN Running Boxcar in da Grande
Short Put In
1st RL Eddy in the Clog Looking towards next RR Eddy above Widow Maker Hole
DN Running the Submarine
Dustin in the RR Eddy of the Clog
Bottom of Submarine
DN Running Boxcar
BirdRock Falls Upper NFFB
Vortex from the top
Boxcar from the top
The Clog at low water
(MN) John Boone coming up after mystery moving below boxcar
(MN) John (Teva guy) mystery move below Boxcar Falls
(MN) Will Selle stylin' the boof at Boxcar @ 1ft
(MN) Ted after the main drop on Boxcar Falls
(MN) Ted in the middle of Boxcar Falls
(MN) Ted above the entry to Boxcar Falls
(MN) Mike Nail at Boxcar Falls
(MN) Post-Boxcar Breath
(MN) Boxcar Falls @ ~1ft 6-14-2005
(MN) Boxcar Falls @ ~330cfs
Boxcar Vid clip
(RM) Sandpaper from below
(RM) Island Rapid - from below
(RM) Island Rapid - top
(RM) Island Rapid - bottom hole
(RM) Diagra Slide from below
(RM) Alligator Rock
(RM) Alligator Rock Take-Out
Chris having a Blind Date
(RM) Top of the Clog
(RM) Island Rapid
(RM) Diagra Slide
(RM) Hwy 64 Gage Explained
(RM) Jennifer at Sand Paper
(RM) Sean at Box Car
(RM) Peter at Box Car
Javaman boofing Boxcar
JDP Boofing Boxcar
Willvdb railgrab vid on Boxcar Falls
Javaman running uppper drop on Boxcar
JDP boofing upper drop on Boxcar Falls
Javaman hucks Boxcar
JDP boofing Boxcar Falls
WillVDB boofing Upper drop on Boxcar Falls
WillVDB railgrab on Boxcar
Harrison North Fork
North Fork of the French Broad
First Slide on the NF of the French Broad
Boxcar circa 1979
North Fork French Broad
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The recent death of Chris Clark at Python Rapid on North Carolina's Cheoah River is the third at this site in the last six years. In each case, the person who died was an expert paddler and their paddling partners did not see exactly what happened. Let's take a close look at the Cheoah below Bear Creek Falls and develop strategies for future runs. The river here is very fast and continuous. After a fast lead-in (Chaos), the river drops over Bear Creek Falls, a 12' drop. Below, most of the flow pushes toward the river right channel (Python). Ferrying over to the easier river left channel (the West Prong) requires careful boat control. Python itself contains several nasty holes and sieves, with a bad hole blocked by a boulder at the bottom. There is a good route through it, but paddlers need to plan their route carefully. Scouting is a good idea for first timers, although catching eddies and getting out is not going to be easy. Groups need to stay together.. The rapid is tough enough that you can't watch your buddy all the time, but you can be ready to help if needed. Click through for links to the accident reports, photos, and comments from expert Cheoah River paddlers. (Photo above by Boyd Ruppelt)
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