Santeetlah - 3. Forest Service road 81 to Santeetlah Lake


Santeetlah, North Carolina, US

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3. Forest Service road 81 to Santeetlah Lake (Lower)

Usual Difficulty II-IV (for normal flows)
Length 5 Miles

Jeb after the signature twisty drop on Lower Santeetlah


Jeb after the signature twisty drop on Lower Santeetlah
Photo by Kevin Colburn taken 05/09/16



River Description

This is a nice pleasant intro to creeking and a scenic Class III-IV trip in its own right. The stream is situated in a beautiful section of the Joyce Kilmer Forest. The first two miles are class 2/3. When you go under NC-1127 bridge the river bends to the left and the gradient starts to pick up. Most of the rapids are clean and boat scoutable. The highlights are some nice bedrock low angle slides and drops.

There used to be a dam about 1.5 miles past the NC-1127 bridge that required portage. It was built in the 1960s to keep native fish from returning after they were poisoned to make way for stocked exotic trout. The dam was removed by the US Forest Service in 2016 and they did a great job of trying to re-establish the look and feel of the native channel. Now there is a small bedrock ledge there. Kudos to the USFS! 

There are two put in options. You can either put in at the campground on NC-1127, or put in a little further upstream at the USFS RD 81 bridge. Take out at the pullout at the lakes headwaters.

Santeetlah can usually be run pretty quickly, I recommend heading over to Snowbird Creek and trying to catch it too.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-02-15 13:56:37

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Rapid Descriptions

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