I ran Slickrock on 11/11/09 with perfect water levels. Nearly 2 inches of rain fell across the area the day before and throughout the night. Tellico peaked at 7.8ft at 6am. We began the 1.5 mile hike down a well maintained trail at 12noon and put-on the river at 1pm. The put-in water level might look a little low. However, there are many tributaries that pour in just downstream to bring the flow up.
All streams, tributaries, and ditches will have water. Bear Creek Falls on Bear Creek will have lots of water but you will still be able to see rock behind the curtain. All creeks along Hwy 129's "The Dragon" were running well.
This run is 6.5 miles of non-stop class 3-4 whitewater with a Class 5 waterfall...Wild Cat Falls. There are lots of blind drops and several logs to watch out for. Boat scouting skills are a must or you'll never get out before dark. Keep in mind, a well maintained trail follows this run to the lake and up the river left side of the lake to Hwy 129. We started hiking in at 12noon, put-on at 1pm, got to Calderwood Lake at 5:30pm, and made to the car at the Cheoah take-out at 5:55pm.
One last thing, the good portage route for Wildcat Falls is on the left...not on the right even though it can be portaged on the right. The Lower Falls should be portaged on the left also.
Todd Scott ran it 3 years ago. It had rained several inches in the area.
Has anyone ran this recently? I backpack in the Slickrock area and was thinking about running this creek, but didn't know what was an acceptable water level to run it at.
7 years ago
by Brandon Hughett
Visual by paddling across lake to the takeout.
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If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
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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)
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