Catawba, North Fork - Upper: Near Linville

Catawba, North Fork, North Carolina, US


Upper: Near Linville

Usual Difficulty IV-V+ (for normal flows)
Length 2.5 Miles

River Description

Very steep creek run that requires a great deal of rain.

Paddler Magazine article on this stretch.

AFWS Current Rainfall Data for Caldwell County.

AFWS Current Rainfall Data for Burke County.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2004-07-13 18:03:49

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.
August 18 2012 (2108 days ago)
x (1)
josh lerner you can run this creek at lower water and only have to portage elephant ear which lands
on rocks. seems clean at the right level
January 23 2003 (5603 days ago)
Chris GormanDetails
There is a lot of good footage of this river in the paddling video "Over the edge" it was
filmed when B.J johnson and his group ran it.
September 5 2002 (5743 days ago)
Upper Fork of the Catawba

As of press time, the Upper North Fork of the Catawba near Linville Caverns, N.C., had only been
run five times, most of the descents taking place in spring 1998. And for good reason. The section,
which starts two miles from Linville Falls, occupies the extreme upper reaches of the Catawba and
rages towards sea level at a whopping 450 feet per mile. With the entire Catawba watershed
beginning only a mile upstream, the section runs maybe twice a year, requiring at least seven or
eight inches of rain.

The run was pioneered in the fall of '97 by Banner Elk, N.C., locals Doug Helms, Brent Meadows,
Franklin Smith, Jim Little, Quinn Slocumb, Chris Sumrell and Sherwood Horine. The group put in
below the first falls, a 50-foot slide into an undercut wall and large hole, which was run last
spring by Daniel De La Vergne, Brad Kee, Eamonn McCullough, B.J. Johnson and Katie Nietert. The
main gorge below the 50-footer includes four series of falls. The first is called Shotgun Willie,
consisting of a four-foot entrance drop into a six-foot slide into an eight-foot slide into a
12-foot vertical drop into a 20-foot stairstep drop. As if it needs more, the river then courses
through a log-strewn boulder garden before entering the next rapid, Elephant Ear, a 15-foot drop
into a must-make eddy. Colt 45 comes next, the section's only unrun rapid, which local Spencer
Cooke describes as "a big meat cleaver with a bony entrance and a recirculating hole at the
bottom in a four-foot-wide area in a cave." The section's final waterfall is THC, featuring a
six-foot-wide entrance into a 25-foot drop. --edb

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