I ran the section below the dam back in '01 at flood stage somewhere around 15'. Looking back at some of the dumber things I have done, I now realize that this was pretty high up. I remember accidentally dropping into a hole that was as big as a small car, fortunately my 90's boat was bigger and I punched through. I have paddled a lot of bigger water since then but this section is full of hidden hazards which include debris/ rebar from construction of the dam I assume. Its just not worth getting impailed or strained! If you are thinking about it... Go to Weldon instead
I spent a great deal of time monitoring various flow levels below the dam trying to find some good playable features, but sadly there really arent much of any. What I did find is that this can potentially be a very dangerous swim. At higher flows after periods of heavy rain,the water is fast,furious,and chock full'o'strainers. Here we dont see the classic deadly hydraulic created by most dams however, and if youre crazy enough Its probably runnable at around 6-9' or so. The far right side of the dam gives way to a sloping rock ledge that doesnt look too "user friendly". The center is even less inviting, with a plethora of rocks and logs. The left side is the most clear drop which gives way to a tight, tricky channel through the trees. Here, you can observe a very erratic, surging boil line likely indicating shallow water and an uneven ,rocky bed. With enough speed and a textbook landing, this spot may be your best bet. For the truly insane......
The Tar River is mostly a flat water run, with very little gradient. The only real rapid on the river would be the Falls dam, which is right beneath the bridge crossing at Battlepark. It's extremely unadvisable to run this. The base of the dam looks to recirculate, and the boulders to follow would make for a very bumpy ride.
At extremely high levels, over 7ft min on the gauge there is mild park and play just beyond the dam, and perhaps the dam could be run at levels over 9ft.
This is a great paddle, although not full of too much whitewater. The Tar River trail runs along 6 miles of this river with county parks at each end.
There is a put in at Sunset park off of Riverdrive, and there are alternate putins along the Tar River Trail.
Aside from portaging the dam, you can easily paddle this river down to Martin Luther King park and take out.
Watch out for strainers on this run under heavy rains.
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