Spring Creek - Route 1171 to NC Route 209 in Hot Springs

Spring Creek, North Carolina, US


Route 1171 to NC Route 209 in Hot Springs

Usual Difficulty III-IV(V) (for normal flows)
Length 7 Miles
Avg. Gradient 80 fpm
Max Gradient 100 fpm

good view of first rapid

good view of first rapid

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03453000 200 - 2000 cfs III-IV(V) 00h30m 246 cfs (running)
Flow range for best boatability uncertain. Please help your fellow boaters with a comment or report.

River Description

Spring creek cuts a deep gorge as it drops into Hot Springs. This run really starts off with some good drops. The major rapids begin a few yards from the put-in and when the creek is really running they are somewhat intimidating. The first mile consists of almost non-stop ledges and boulder gardens. Unfortunately these things can't keep up forever and Spring creek begins to slow after the first mile. By the end of the second mile, all of the big stuff is done and the creek consists of small ledges or rock gardens. There is one major exception. After Spring Creek emerges from the gorge and reaches NC 209 it has one final big drop. The most dangerous and largest rapid on the creek is less than a half mile above Hot Springs. The rapid drops over 10 feet into a monstrous rocky hole and then slams into a rock wall. Unless you are dead set on running this rapid it seems logical to take out above the final drop and skip the last urban section of Spring Creek. There are no real rapids so if you can get to off the river safely after the NC 209 intersection go ahead and do so. Otherwise paddle down into town and take out.

Here are some correlations:

The multiple numbers represent the level at the beginning and the end of the day.

Spring Creek 9 inches
FB 8000-5000
Ivy 500 - 400

Spring Creek 12-13 inches
FB 10,000 ->8000
Ivy 1000->500

Spring Creek 18 inches
FB 13,000
Ivy 1100 - 700


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2014-03-23 16:40:37


Stream team editor

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.1Chutes and LaddersIII+Putin Photo
0.3Cookie MonsterIII+Photo
0.5Mini VortexIVPhoto
1.0PlayspotsIIPlayspot Photo
2.0Banana SplitIII+Waterfall Photo
3.0Surprise LedgeIIIPhoto

Rapid Descriptions

Chutes and Ladders (Class III+, Mile 0.1)

1st Rapid

1st Rapid
Photo taken 03/23/14

Chutes and Ladders
There is a trail on river left that can be used to scout the entire first rapid. This rapid is a decent sample of the gradient and difficulty of the river.

Cookie Monster (Class III+, Mile 0.3)

2nd Rapid

2nd Rapid
Photo taken 03/28/14

The second rapid has a nasty hole in the middle. You can either scrape left or run right to avoid, although the right line is harder to boat scout and may have wood in it.

Mini Vortex (Class IV, Mile 0.5)

3rd Rapid

3rd Rapid
Photo taken 03/28/14

This is the longest rapid of the run. At 18 inches it's quite a ride. At 9-12" it's not that bad.
I start right, working left for a 4-5 foot drop then immediately back to the right. I call this one Mini Vortex because it reminds me
of Vortex on NFFB, but not as big.

Playspots (Class II, Mile 1.0)

Playing on Spring Creek

Playing on Spring Creek
Photo of William "Hawk" Reeves by Shane

There are lots of easy 360 holes in the first mile of the run at least if the water is up.

Banana Split (Class III+, Mile 2.0)

Banana Split

Banana Split
Photo taken 03/23/14

There is around a mile of calm until you get to the Banana Split Ledge. Scout right. Going far left or far right looks nasty, start in the middle, hit the ledge in the middle and boof.

Surprise Ledge (Class III, Mile 3.0)

Surprise Ledge

Surprise Ledge
Photo taken 03/23/14

There is a ledge that sneaks up on you quick that has a pretty decent hole at most levels. It may be more forgiving to the right, but if you hit it straight on paddle hard and boof if you can.

U-Turn (Class III, Mile 4.0)

Not difficult at all, but it often has a tree in the middle. There is a giant rock in the middle of the river, start on the right then go all the way
across to the left, do a U Turn around the big rock and go all the way back to the right. Behind the rock is where wood ends up, you can scout it from river left or right to check.

After this there really isn't much to the bridge.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
March 7 2018 (321 days ago)
mjackson8 (156896)
riverwide log at beginning of steep section was boofable at ~15inches 3/2/18. likely a portage as
level drops
March 3 2018 (325 days ago)
boxblue (157093)
Friday, 3/2/18....quite a bit of wood on Spring Creek. One is all the way across the river at the
top of the first rapid, Do Drop In. So, be careful.....Banana Split was clean, as clean can be...
December 21 2017 (397 days ago)
Paul ScruttonDetails
Last rapid near town is called "Meat Cleaver".
March 12 2014 (1777 days ago)
PaddleCracker (156025)
Lee Bruce if you don't mind could you contact me about this section. David Bazemore
Strive2@ymail.com Thanks....
March 12 2014 (1777 days ago)
Lee BruceDetails
Here are some correlations I have saved. Seems to be consistent. The ranges indicate the level at
the beginning and end of the day. (4/6/13 Spring Creek 9 inches FB 8000->5000 Ivy 500 -> 400)
(1/12/14 Spring Creek 12-13 inches FB 10,000 ->8000 Ivy 1000->500) (2013-01-19 Spring Creek
18 inches FB 13,000 Ivy 1100 -> 700 )
October 29 2013 (1911 days ago)
Wes BrownDetails
There was a major wood hazard in the first set of rapids as of May 27th 2013. It was removed via
Z-drag by our group after a harrowing pin by one of our party. I am posting because I realized the
rapid may be partially visible in one or two of the pictures, but this is also just a general
warning for wood in the first set of rapids. The rapid is potentially pictured in "Second Drop" (ID
4712). It would be the river right line in this picture, out of frame. At the level we ran it (low,
200ish cfs on the Ivy River gauge), it was the only line available. The log was just enough under
the surface that you essentially had one stroke to try to clear it by the time you saw it and it
was just far enough out from the drop that boofing over it was difficult but pinning under it was
very easy. Visibility was limited due to the boulders, so warning from downstream was ineffective.
We weren't being overly cautious due to the low water level, but we certainly weren't being
reckless--compounding circumstances could have made this hazard very bad.
September 1 2013 (1969 days ago)
lescott (151302)
At certain levels, a paddler can slide down the far left chute on the final class 4/5 drop, but
beware of wood blocking or under the drop.
March 9 2011 (2876 days ago)
ncaquaholic (152832)
Subsurface wood hazard: Midway through the run, a large, obvious tree blocks all but 4 feet against
far river right. After paddling around the right of the tree, the normal line is to ferry back to
river left for sweeping S turn back to the right then downstream. There is a 4"-6" diameter tree
just under water across the entire river in this turn. At lower levels, it is likely a major
hazard. The only sign of this tree was a branch sticking out of the water on the river right. At a
level of 1'4", we discovered it by bumping the trunk with the hull of our boats. Be safe!
February 21 2004 (5449 days ago)
Kevin YountDetails
There is one more big drop if you continue on past the bridge that begins the hot springs town
limits. It is about a ten foot double ledge. A rock splits the narrow channel. The left is tight,
but doable, the right leads into a rock, so you better hug the rock splitting the river. The hole
after the second drop looks rough. In the pool after the drops there is a submerged rock in the
middle and some wood on the left. For a better description, this drop is in the Benner guidebook.