Difficulty I-II(III)
Length 3 Miles
Flow Range 900 - 4500 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 1000 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 05/08/2019 10:50 am

River Description

This is a great short stretch for novices with plenty of class II rapids. There is one rapid which could be considered a class III-; "Radio Tower" that occurs near the end of the run which can be scouted with some walking on river left or right by novice paddlers running it for the first time.

PUT-IN & TAKEOUT ACCESS: Access the put-in at either the Nolichucky Gorge Campground or about .75 mi downstream at the USFS Chestoa Recreation site (note: fee demo area). Do NOT park at the rafting companies, please check with the Campground about private boater parking. This has been a source of contention in the past due to the limited parking available for commercial rafting customers. Simply abide by the business's requests and there should be no problem. As for the takeout, most people park beneath the bridge w/ easy access on river right. Be aware that this area is adjacent to two houses, to my knowledge parking has never been an issue, but be mindful to not block access to their property by limiting the number of vehicles to as few as necessary.

For squirt boaters, the mystery spot known as Cowbell is located in a left hand bend in the river approximately 1/4 mi. from the rafting companies/campground put in.

****2004 Flood Update -- Hurricanes producing rains that caused back to back weekly flows of over 60,000cfs have radically altered the nature of Cowbell. Downtime is still possible but unfortunately it is nowhere near the premier quality squirt spot it was prior to September 2004.****

Cowbell is fun at any level for beginners and intermediates. It's a great place for novices to practice ferries, eddying, swiftwater combat rolls, and some play moves on the strong eddie lines. The water is deep and the runout is long making recovery of a swimmer's gear pretty easy so let it all hang out!

At higher flows (3000 cfs on up), the stretch just above the bridge at Chestoa has many fun waves/holes that must be caught on the fly.

"Radio Wave" aka "Radio Tower" named for obvious reasons, washes out at higher flows. Otherwise, the line is pretty straightforward, line up just right or left of center for the main wave/drop at the end of a shallow shoal section. The main danger here is the shallowness of the entrance to the rapid. Excellent recovery eddy on river left after Radio Tower.

At flows above about 2700 cfs, a really fun, extremely fast, exploding wave develops just at the takeout at Jackson Love Bridge.

Rapid Descriptions


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Justin Barstow
10 years ago

This is a great canoeing run..a friend and I have paddled this a few times and had some moderate luck with small mouths.

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10 years ago

There is a strainer at Duck and Cover. You can't see it untill you drop over the first area. I t is below the bigger drop and is hard to miss. The water level was only 473cfs, It will be hard to see at 7 or 800cfs. Be careful , if you were to flip going over the bigger drop it would be hard to recover before getting to the stainer.

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11 years ago

good run for beginners nice place to learn some playboating moves!

Gage Descriptions

For TVA gauge readings call 800-238-2264 then press 3. The first reading is Nolichucky at Embreeville.

The minimum flow is VERY scrapy. The maximum is a bit much for rank beginners mainly because a swim could be fairly long given the width of the river at this point and the push of the river at higher flows.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports




Mark Stover


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1191561 05/03/05 Mark Stover n/a
1212187 05/08/19 Mark Stover updated image position