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Difficulty I-III
Length 7 Miles
Flow Range 200 - 1000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 21 minutes ago 6.05 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 11/04/2015 3:57 am

River Description

Data from Joe Greiner, local expert


Additions by Garrick Taylor - half baked paddler


Great alternative when the Lower Haw is too high.  Lots of Class II rapids with some flatwater in-between.  Some nice play spots to have fun.  It is a narrow river so watch out for wood.  The is a good squirt line a couple of miles in where a rock protrudes into the river from river left.  There is an old stone wall back in the woods on river left at this spot.


More Class I-II rapids follow with some flatwater thrown in between.


Section of Class III about mid-way into the run.  The river drops over an old 4-5' stone mill dam.  This is followed by 100 yards or so of Class II water as the river bends to the right.  This is followed a 3-4' ledge that forms a nice sized hole at high water.  Following this is another 3-4' ledge with another hole.  This is followed by a wave train that has a couple of 4-5' waves at high water.


A large eddy follows this where you can pick up the pieces or paddle back up to just below the bottom ledge to run the wave train again or to practice some surfing.


After this the river has a bit of flat water followed by more Class I-II rapids mixed with flatwater. 


Class II rapids begin again and run for several hundred yards just before reaching the takeout at the NC 902 bridge.


Trip took 2 1/2 hours at 1-1.5 feet on the paddlers' gage.

Rapid Descriptions


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ben huneycutt
1 year ago

04/14/2019: Ran at level somewhere between 2000-4000. GREAT waves, no nasty holes, too many strainers to count (only 1 tree in main channel). Run took about 90 mins with minimal play.

Gage Descriptions

Rocky River at US64 Near Siler City is about 2 miles upstream from the put-in.  200 cfs on this gauge is roughly equal to -6" on the paddlers' gauge at the takeout and is a minimum level. 


Tick creek is a major tributary that joins in about 1/3 of the way through the run.  You can get a better idea of the level on the run by adding the Tick Creek at Mount Vernon Springs gauge to the Rocky River at US64 Near Siler City gauge.  50 cfs on Tick Creek plus 200 cfs on Rocky River at US64 Near Siler City is equal to roughly -6" on the paddlers' gauge at the takeout.


Verify the river is running by checking the paddlers' gage on the downstream river right piling on the NC 902 bridge at the takeout.  You can also see the last rapid upstream from the bridge.


On a run where paddlers' gage was 1.5' when we put on and 1' when we took off, there was a very padded out level - more waves trains, glassy waves, and an occasional hole to punch through.  The class III section in the middle was fun but not technical.  This was a great level for this run.


On a run where the paddlers' gauge was -3" when we put on and -6" when we took off the level was a good minimum.  More technical with fewer lines through the rapids.  The class III section in the middle was still fun but the waves were smaller and the holes were not as sticky.  The flatwater was a lot harder to deal with because it took longer to paddle through.  Also a lot less play to be had at this lower level.



Directions Description

Takeout is where NC 902 crosses the Rocky.  From there, take NC 902 back towards Pittsboro.  Turn left at the first road (Pleasant Hill Church Road).  You follow this and it becomes gravel.  After it turns to gravel, follow it down a hill, around a curve and then back up a hill.  Once pavement starts again, take the next left onto Carolina Hill Road.  Go up the hill and then back down.  The river comes right up to the side of the road on the left at the bottom of the hill.

No Accident Reports



article main photo

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)


Matt Muir


Garrick Taylor


Brandon L Price


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1190911 12/13/08 n/a n/a
1197154 01/23/10 Garrick Taylor
1204531 04/17/15 Brandon L Price
1204532 04/17/15 Brandon L Price
1205420 11/04/15 Brandon L Price Fix gauge on summary page