Watauga - 4. US Route 321 Bridge to Guy's Ford

Watauga, North Carolina, US


4. US Route 321 Bridge to Guy's Ford (Section Three)

Usual Difficulty II(IV) (for normal flows)
Length 3.75 Miles
Avg. Gradient 35 fpm

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03479000 200 - 1000 cfs II(IV) 01h09m 304 cfs (running)

River Description

This is a reliable class two run within about 20 minutes of Boone. It can be run pretty low, but most don't bother below 250cfs. The section has good variety - ledges, a slot move, a few surfing waves, shoals, etc. 
Be aware of a "mandatory" portage 1/4 mile into the run called the Clog. After the first set of shoals and rapids, where the Laurel Fork joins the river from the left, the river pools up above the Clog. This is a difficult class V rapid that terminates in a narrow slot that feeds a huge undercut rock that is stuffed with debris such as plywood, logs, etc. Portage the whole thing on the right. Take out as far down as you can go before the rapid begins to minimize walking on private property. There is an old road at the top of the bank. We need to be EXTRA LOW-PROFILE as there are rumors of property owners not being happy about boaters in or near their yards.
Everything else is boat-scoutable.
Note: There is a good surfing wave just below Guy's Ford Bridge where you can get in a little more river at the end of the run.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2014-03-10 16:00:02

Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
January 9 2012 (2570 days ago)
Jim JanneyDetails
Just a story to reiterate the seriousness of the left side of the clog. My friend, who is extremely
experienced, and I were showing some beginners down this run with a flow of about 250. Neither of
us had ever paddled this stretch but we were trying to get some friends out before a gorge run.
When we get to the clog, I help the beginners portage and he begins boat scouting down the rapid as
we get to the bottom. I try to waive him off, as basically 2/3rds of the river heads left and
disappears under a house sized rock with smooth faces and no slowing of flow on the way in, but
it's too late. He flips in the final chute and rolls just in time to broadside the undercut divider
rock. At this point I start running to get a rope as he slowly typewriters backwards into the left
side sieve. I'm convinced I'm about to watch a drowning as this is one of the worst sieves anywhere
(including lower Meadow, Linville, etc.). I grab a rope and start jumping on the rocks over the
smaller sieves on the right side, hoping that I can get to a spot where I can throw a rope into the
mouth of the sieve if for no other reason than to convince myself that I tried. About 45 seconds
after initial disappearance, he pops up in the pool below, having traversed under about 30 feet of
rock. His boat, paddle, and shoes never come out. I paddle across to where he has escaped the water
to give him my shoes for hiking out and he recounts his subterranean battle. Once in the sieve, he
exited his boat after it had stopped downstream progress. Seeing entrance light above him, he
attempted to climb back up his boat but can't come anywhere near the surface. Feeling current
heading down past his feet, he decided since he was going to die anyway he might as well go with it
and started kicking his way through the wood pile below him and into the darkness. Unfortunately
his skirt snagged on one of the logs, but he was able to snap it and start swimming with the
current and eventually for the light. Lucky. The lead in rapid is only class III and the whole
thing looks fine from above. I would have bombed it too if we didn't have beginners with us. We
knew about the rapid, but just thought it was a step above the rest of the run, not completely
sieved out at the bottom. The left side (where he went), completely disappears. The right side is
sieved out but is paddleable with the right flow and wood conditions. Definitely worth taking a
look if you've never been there.
November 26 2007 (4075 days ago)
x (1)
Beautiful scenery and a great place for young boaters or people who have just picked it up. Might
want to walk the Snak Pit the rapid 1/4 of a mile down if you have never done it before.
July 24 2006 (4565 days ago)
Andy MoffittDetails
lil jon the s****r, will (peg leg) rollover and I (the muffin man) run this almost everyday no
matter what level... but bring a case if under 150cfs. Don't miss snake pit and the clog... best
rapid on the river! (actually the only rapid.. really.. do it!)

It's close, fun, and unbelieeeevable (OH!)