Oconaluftee - 2. Smokemont Campground to Oconaluftee Visitor's Center

Oconaluftee, North Carolina, US


2. Smokemont Campground to Oconaluftee Visitor's Center

Usual Difficulty II-III (for normal flows)
Length 3.2 Miles


Photo by Steve Pack taken 01/25/12 @ 1280 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03512000 850 - 2500 cfs II-III 01h01m 476 cfs (too low)

River Description

Carolina Whitewater, B.Benner
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2015-08-04 17:58:06


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.8Beck's LedgeII+
1.2Tow String BridgeN/AAccess Playspot
2.7Mingus Mill RapidII
3.0Job Corps BridgeIIAccess
3.2Oconaluftee Visitor's CenterN/ATakeout

Rapid Descriptions

Beck's Ledge (Class II+, Mile 0.8)

As the river approachs the road there is a fun rapid with a large boof rock in the center.   

Tow String Bridge (Class N/A, Mile 1.2)

After the bridge the river turns to the southwet.  From Smokemont Bridge to the the Tow String Bridge there is a road that paralles the river on rive left.  US 441 is on river right.   There is a fun wave and wave hold just above the bridge.  There is a parking on river left,  just downstream from the bridge.

Elbow (Class III, Mile 1.5)

The river is divided by an island.   Do not take the channel to the left.  It is often clogged with downed trees and the lines that are open involve boat busting rocks.   Take the river right channel for a fun rapid with two offset ledges forming an elbow.   Enter from the center, paddle to the right and then sharply to the left.   To scout, there are eddies on the left side of the channel.  

Job Corps Bridge (Class II, Mile 3.0)

Class 2 shoals at the bridge

Oconaluftee Visitor's Center (Class N/A, Mile 3.2)

Take out on the eddies on river right,  just below the path to the Heritage Farm

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 10 2010 (2810 days ago)
Kieth CrawfordDetails
Paddled this twice in April/May 2010. I would say 1,000cfs is the minimum, 1,400-1,500 is ideal.
There were a few strainers during this time but they were very easy to avoid.
October 5 2009 (3027 days ago)
x (1)
W. Butler - Ran the section in the Park on 9/28 around 900 cfs. There is a river ride strainer
after the second bridge you pass under (Tow String Rd.) It was easy enough to make it around and
under at this level but at higher levels the water would rise above it and create a hazard. You
can't see the strainer until you paddle through the second rapid after the bridge. This run is a
great alternative/upgrade from the Tuck gorge and has some nice boogie water. Would be better above
1000+ cfs closer to 1200. It would be really bumpy at 800 cfs.
March 25 2003 (5413 days ago)
The acess issue must be lifted and would only apply to specific parts of the river. Part of this
run is owned by the NPS, part of the run is owned by the Tow Line Road Community, and finally the
last few miles are owned by the Cherokee Indians. The river sees hundreds of commercial and
semi-commercail trips from local rent a rafters and tubers all summer.
February 20 2002 (5811 days ago)
Last checked there were some access issues with this run.

Do more than just check gauges; join over 5,000 AW members today.

Or, consider donating