Wilson Creek - C) The Gorge: National Forest sign to parking area above Brown Mtn. Beach

Wilson Creek, North Carolina, US


C) The Gorge: National Forest sign to parking area above Brown Mtn. Beach

Usual Difficulty III-IV (for normal flows)
Length 2 Miles
Avg. Gradient 95 fpm
Max Gradient 100 fpm

10 Foot Falls

10 Foot Falls
Photo of Drew Austel by Aaron Weiss taken 06/05/03 @ -3.0 inches

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-02140991 500 - 5000 cfs III-IV 00h59m 305 cfs (too low)

River Description

Some of the bigger rapids include: Mank Above 10ft, Ten Foot Falls, No Name, Boatbuster, Thunderhole, Triple Drop, Bitchslap, Hidden Eddy, Razorback, and Huntley's Retreat

Between these drops are numerous large ledges with accompanying large ledge holes.

The best description of the river can be found in William Nealy's classic guidebook "Whitewater Home Companion, Vol. 2"

Benner and Benners Carolina Whitewater has an excellent discription of the river.
Appalachian Whitewater : The Southern States

AFWS Current Rainfall Data for Caldwell County.
Gauge 1835, Edgemont, is at the beginning of Section 2 of Wilson Creek.


Note added by Garrick Taylor:

Go to either http://www.boatingbeta.com/cgi-bin/myflows.cgi or http://syotr.org/?s=l to find a virtual gauge based on an AFWS gauge located on Wilson Creek.  This virtual gauge is far more accurate than relying on the USGS gauge on the Johns River.

Wilson Creek is one of the newest federally-designated Wild and Scenic Rivers. Click here to check out their description!

From Morganton NC go north on Highway 181 toward Linville. Take a right (east) on Adako Road and follow that to Brown Mountain Beach. Take FS 1328 North past Brown Mountain Beach.
The take-out is on the left. It will be the first parking area on the left after the pavement ends. The put-in is the first parking area on the left past Ten Foot Falls (visible from the road), aproximately 3 miles past the take-out.

From Lenior take Highway 90 north to Collettsville. Then take a left on Adako Road and follow it to Brown Mountain Beach.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2015-08-05 20:26:21


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.3Mank Above Ten Foot.IVWaterfall
0.3Ten Foot FallsIVWaterfall Photo
0.4No NameIVHazard Waterfall Photo
0.5BoatbusterIVWaterfall Photo
0.5Dental WorkIIIWaterfall
1.0Triple DropIVHazard Waterfall Photo
1.2Hidden EddyIVWaterfall
1.2Approach to RazorbackIII+Waterfall Photo
1.2RazorbackIVHazard Waterfall Photo
1.4Huntley's RetreatIII+Waterfall

Rapid Descriptions

Mank Above Ten Foot. (Class IV, Mile 0.3)

At the end of a good sized pool, the river will become choked up with boulders. Starting in midstream look for a slot on the right (above Idaho rock) that isn't really wide enough to punch thru. Hug Idaho rock, line up and bang on down. Just below is the entrance to ten foot falls.


(aka Unrunnable Rock Jumble)

Ten Foot Falls (Class IV, Mile 0.3)

10 Foot Falls

10 Foot Falls
Photo of Will Reeves by Brad Roberts taken 01/15/03 @ -3

Start with a 4 foot tall boof, into a tricky class 3 entrance rapid. Then take a left and line up for the big plunge. A ten foot tall 45 degree slide into a sometimes interesting hole followed by a large pool.  At lower water, you want to skirt just left of the right center in-stream boulder and stay right of the curler on the way down.

No Name (Class IV, Mile 0.4)

Warning - No Name Ledge

Warning - No Name Ledge
Photo of Warning - No Name Ledge by adakovizual taken 10/15/06 @ -9

Ledge drop with a few sneak lines.  Sneaks are far right or far left.  Boof on the right side of the center of the drop into a very sticky hole backed up by a large underwater boulder.  Especially sticky around 0" on the Adako bridge gauge.  If you pencil here, a beatdown may ensue (sight of a near drowning in 2006, see accident report 2006-01-07 description). If you pull, the hole will try to keep you and possibly recirculate you. There is a more forgiving slide down the left side of the center drop.

Boatbuster (Class IV, Mile 0.5)

Boatbuster and Thunderhole

Boatbuster and Thunderhole
Photo of Eric Paysen by Brad Roberts taken 01/15/03 @ -3

Boatbuster & Thunderhole are two back to back drops with some pretty fast current. Run both of them left of center above -2".  At lower water (<-2") run the far right side boof at Boatbuster.

Thunderhole (Class IV, Mile 0.5)

Usually run left with a little right angle.  Can also run the sides at higher water.

Dental Work (Class III, Mile 0.5)

The ledge below thunderhole with a man-made wall on the left. There are several lines depending upon water level.  Above zero there is a right angling rail with a sharp left turn at the bottom (more fun to slide the rail).  At lower water run the diagonal slots starting river right but don't flip or you may have teeth sticking through a new hole in your face.

Triple Drop (Class IV, Mile 1.0)

Triple Drop

Triple Drop
Photo of Eric Paysen by Brad Roberts taken 01/15/03 @ -3

Triple drop is (you guessed it!!) a three tired drop. The main thing to avoid is the sticky hole at the bottom. The hole is backed up by a rock about 8 feet downstream that keeps everything kicking back into the hole. There are two slots that can be used to enter this rapid.  Below -5" the submerged rock in the middle drop can launch you or push you into the left wall eddy.


(aka Stairstep)

Bitchslap (Class IV, Mile 1.1)

Another really tight one. Pick your way left to right between the really narrow rock slots or run the right side from the top eddy to the river right eddy halfway down.


(aka Boulder Clog, aka Unrunnable Rock Jumble, aka Fat Lady Squeeze)


Maytag (Class III, Mile 1.1)

At the end of a large pool after Bitchslap where you can look up on river left and see road traffic there is a 4 foot ledge.  On the left side of this ledge is a large undercut boulder.  Sneak this ledge to the left of the undercut boulder or on the far right of the ledge.  Most boaters boof the middle of the ledge over a little chip with some right angle.

Hidden Eddy (Class IV, Mile 1.2)

Above -5" run the left side auto-boof, but watch the flip rock if you don't get far enough left.  Otherwise, run the right side boof into the "hidden eddy" on river right or the left to right slide into "hidden eddy".  If you piton the wall get ready to roll.


(aka The Wall, aka Billboard)

Approach to Razorback (Class III+, Mile 1.2)

Upstream from Razorback

Upstream from Razorback
Photo by Aaron Weiss taken 06/05/03 @ -3.0 inches

The largest drop in this section has a piton rock in the center, safely avoid it by boofing the right side.

Razorback (Class IV, Mile 1.2)


Photo of Eric Paysen by Brad Roberts taken 01/15/03 @ -3

Another big sliding ledge drop, with a shelf that extends out from the right bank - just to give you something to piton into. The standard line is run about 8 feet off the right bank, then boof left toward the bottom of the slide.  At higher water a couple of lines open up, one far left and one on the left side of the main horizon line.

Huntley's Retreat (Class III+, Mile 1.4)

Another large ledge drop. Run left at normal flows.  Below 0" you can run the slot between the boulders from left to right.

Railslide (Class III, Mile 1.7)

Railslide is after the big pool known as the "Bathtub" where you can do a fun rockslide on river left.  Railslide can be boofed on the left , backslid or frontslid down the sloping ledge or run standard as a sharp S-turn

When the river starts to flatten out, start looking left for the parking area. Last seen, there was a log laying across the eddy on river left.

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