Pigeon, East Fork, North Carolina, US
|Usual Difficulty||II-III (for normal flows)|
|EAST FORK PIGEON RIVER NEAR CANTON, NC|
|usgs-03456500||150 - 10000 cfs||II-III||00h40m||136 cfs (too low)|
There are several options:
Possible put-in and takeout points:
Big East Fork Trailhead (big parking lot, put-in upstream of tunnel)
Camp Hope Road (1.7 miles)
Hungry Creek Road (3.7 miles) (park roadside and be low profile)
US 276 Bridge (7 miles) (park roadside upstream and be low profile)
Burnette Cove Road (9.2 miles) (good roadside parking downstream of bridge along US 276)
If you put-in at the Big East Fork Trailhead at US276, there is a Class III+ rapid just downstream of the tunnel the river uses to pass under the road. Expect lots of Class II+ and III to follow. There is a fair amount of wood and at low water there are a few low water bridges to contend with. We recently did this when the East Fork USGS gauge was at ~950 cfs and it was a continuous Class III hoot full of waves and playholes. Awesome water quality and some good views of the surrounding mountains and hills. The Big East Fork gauge at te put-in was surging between 2 and 2.5 feet. Downstream at the US276 bridge in the valley, the paddlers' gauge was ~1.75 feet. At the downstream bridge piling at the takeout at Burnette Cove Road, it read 2 feet. wouldn't hesitate to do this run again at a similar level - it was a bunch of fun!
The below account is of a much lower run.
A shorter run (~7.3 miles) is Camp Hope Rd bridge to Burnette Cove Rd bridge with convenient take-out parking. This was a 3 hour run with no stopping except for the 3 mandatory portages. The first portage is a low bridge ~3/4mile below Camp Hope bridge. At 160cfs this bridge was ~18" above stream surface. The second low bridge portage is another 1/4 to 1/2 mile down. This bridge is right at the stream surface @ 160cfs. The large beaverdam-like cluster of several strainers is portaged far right by the black gate valve. This cluster is at the end of a series of small man-made drops made up of large flat boulders. From this point to the Burnette Cove bridge there are occasional strainers that are avoidable. We did not run the section below the Burnette Cove Rd. bridge ending at the NC110/Pisgah Rd. bridge. The next time we run this we will go for more action by putting in below the East Fork Pigeon Trail head on US276 and take out much earlier than the Burnette Cove bridge. The on-line gage we used was http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv/?site_no=03456500&agency_cd=USGS&
Would not want to run this creek much below 150 cfs. We ran it for the first time at 150-160cfs on 2.5.11 and it was fun boating floss. Another 4" to 5" of water would have been great.
Bob Benner writes about a painted gauge on the NW side of the NC110 bridge where -6" is the stated minimum. We used the on-line gauge and took a chance on 150 and we lucked out with a sunny 55 degree February day.