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Difficulty I-III
Length 26.7 Miles
Flow Range 200 - 20000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 1040 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 11/04/2006 11:39 am

River Description

Carolina Whitewater, B.Benner

Rapid Descriptions


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Les Nicholas
8 years ago

Ran Pigeon from 209 bridge to New Hepco bridge. Not any significant rapids before the confluence with Jonathans Creek, The best combination would be to run Jonathans from the class III down to New Hepco. 600 cfs would probably be a minimum on the Hepco gauge.

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Les Nicholas
8 years ago

Put in on Jonathans creek behind the fire station, and ran it to the Pigeon and then followed the Pigeon to near Waterville Lake. Took out at the New Hepco Bridge, Fines Creek Rd. We had 1” of rain in Maggie Valley the day before, and the USGS Gauge on the Pigeon near Hepco was reading 850 CFS. Passed a landowner near where the Jonathans Creek gauge near White Oak used to be, she said at one time they were considering damming Jonathans Creek near the confluence with the Pigeon, (or maybe the Pigeon itself) so the gauge was for a temporary flow study. Not much on Jonathans, one set of drops about 1+ miles below I-40 bridge as mentioned by Dave, otherwise nothing even of new school class II. At the confluence I noticed the water temperature was close to 15° warmer. Several noteworthy drops that were not listed on the AWA section for the Pigeon E & W Confluence to New Hepco Bridge. Of course having a good volume of water on the Pigeon, and getting a back ender in a rather juicy hole affected my rating. I would rate one drop a solid III+ (the surprise hole and ender). Other than a bit of a hike at the bridge it is an under valued section. We had run a section of the Pigeon upstream (from confluence of Richland Creek) and became bored, getting out after a few miles before anything fun started, so I was surprised to find some fun rapids. I hope someone will run it from NC 209 on down, looked like a good rapid downstream of that bridge where we got out.

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Directions Description

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Date Flow Result Factor  
2013-09-01 High Near Miss/Rescue One Boat Trip Read More



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A Close Look at Cheoah River Fatalities

Charlie Walbridge

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)


Carroll Sasscer


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1190903 11/04/06 Carroll Sasscer n/a