Difficulty III-IV
Length 2 Miles
Gauge TELLICO RIVER AT TELLICO PLAINS, TN
Flow Range 280 - 1500 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 22 minutes ago 748 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 01/29/2019 8:34 am

River Description


Warning!
In the light of the recent fatality on the Tellico and a subsequent near-miss, members of the victim's party have requested that strong warnings be placed on the Tellico page (section 2) as follows:
The top drops in the Ledges section (Top Ledge, Middle Ledge, and Baby Falls) become extremely retentive at levels over 1000 cfs (3.5 ft--editor's note). They should be warned that a paddler was killed on January 1, 2011 at the first ledge. Water levels were very high. Also, in my opinion, the Ledges should be considered Class IV+ at these levels.
Thanks!
Charlie Walbridge

Link to accident report from January 1, 2011

GAUGE INFO:

Low 250 cfs
Good 500-800 cfs
High 1000+ cfs

USGS gauge gives levels in both gauge height and cfs.

The minimum suggested level is about 280 cfs. The Upper Tellico can be run much lower (down to 150 cfs) but it is not the same river. No push, lots of scraping, lots of rocks. 300 cfs is an enjoyable low level.


Overview:

The Upper Tellico, also known as the "Ledges" section, is only two miles in length, but the significant whitewater makes it seem longer. A parallel road makes scouting and shuttling easy and this section can be run several times in one day. The Upper Tellico has great scenery, great water, and good drops. This is a classic southeastern whitewater--please don't take this gem for granted!

Rapid Descriptions:
Major Rapids:

Top Ledge (III)
Dirty S (III)
Middle Ledge (III)
Cry Baby (III)
Baby Falls (III+)
Diaper Wiper(III+)(bottom of rapid looking back upstream- - Baby Falls in background)
Jared's Knee (III+ to IV)


The put-in consists of bumpy class II water that brings you to a series of ledges after passing under the first bridge. With a low level, these ledges can mostly be boat scouted to find the best route. At higher flows it's best that you already know your line. The Top Ledge is a six-foot drop that shouldn't present any problems, although river right should be avoided because a pinning potential exists here. You can see the piton/pin rock in this picture. The rock is just under the ledge at the far left of the picture.

Next is Dirty S, named for the way you run this class III drop. Middle Ledge (III) is an eight foot plunge with an automatic boof if run towards river right. There is plenty of calm water between these drops, so they shouldn't surprise you.

After these ledges, you will encounter more class II water and a sharp bend to the left in the river brings you to a short class II+ rapid. Immediately after this rapid be on the lookout for a horizon line. This is Baby Falls (III+ to IV), a 15-foot drop into a pool. Eddy on river right and scout your line. If you run far right, you will practically land into an eddy. If you run the middle, you better have some speed, and the left side offers a sweet boof into the pool below. If you portage, do it on river left. (This is true for all the rapids on the Upper section.) From the pool below Baby Falls you can see Diaper Wiper (class III, IV at higher levels), the next rapid. Run the Wiper far right for first-timers. When you are comfortable with this rapid, you can run it against the river left bank (pic shows looking up from bottom of rapid). The left route will push you into a pillow of water at the bottom, where you'll make a 90 degree turn to the right and head back into the middle of the river. This rapid can be run several ways, but the far right line is easiest at first. Avoid the middle because of a large pinning rock midway through the rapid (shown at the far right of this picture).

Shortly after the Wiper you will see Bald River Falls come in on river left. Pay attention, because the action is about to pick up. About a half mile below Bald River Falls you will enter the first rapid of Jared's Knee(III-IV). There are three distinct rapids at normal flows with the actual Jared's Knee rapid making up the fourth. At higher flows, these three rapids become one big rapid, so make sure you know where you are. At the bottom of Jared's Knee there is an undercut rock on river left, use caution here (undercut is on Louie's left in the picture). There have been several good pics of Jared's Knee posted below, check them out to get a good picture of the entire rapid. After this rapid it is only a short way to the take-out bridge. This marks the end of the Upper section. More class III fun awaits on the lower run.

Hazards:

The Upper Tellico is pretty clean. With the exception of the undercut on river left at Jared's Knee there are no major hazards of this type. Strainers aren't common except after huge storms. Always scout drops if you can't see clearly to the bottom of the rapid.  Please see notes at the top of this run description about the potential for a terminal hole at Top Ledge at high flows!

Boats:

First-timers will probably be more comfortable in creek boats, but experienced boaters make this run in everything.

Put-in and Take-out:

Located in Tellico Plains, TN. Follow TN 68 until you get to Tellico Plains. After you get into Tellico Plains, pick up TN 165 which will take you to the river. The road will split, stay right (still on TN 165). There will be a parking lot on the right side called "Oosterneck." This is the lower run takeout. Passing this parking area, the road will split again. Again stay right. This road parallels the Tellico all the way. You will cross a bridge and see Bald River Falls on your right (80+ feet) with the Tellico on your left. Continue up the road until you cross another bridge. Shortly there will be a pull-off on your right. This is the put-in. The take-out is the bridge after Jared's Knee. For a bit longer trip, boat the class III water below Jared's and take out at Turkey Creek, part of the Lower Tellico run.

Additional Info:

See Julie Keller's excellent article for more info.

See also Trout Hatchery to Bridge above Bald River (Class II-III),
Bridge below Jerod's Knee to Ranger Station (Lower Tellico) (Class II-III), and
Ranger Station to Tellico Plains (Class I-III).

Rapid Descriptions

Top Ledge

Class - III Mile - 0.1

The put-in consists of bumpy class II water that brings you to a series of ledges after passing under the first bridge. With a low level, these ledges can mostly be boat scouted to find the best route. At higher flows it's best that you already know your line. The Top Ledge is a six-foot drop that shouldn't present any problems, although river right should be avoided because a pinning potential exists here.

Note: these drops become much more difficult and dangerous at high levels (~1000 cfs, IV+). Top Ledge develops into a terminal hydraulic, guarded by the downstream rocks on the right; it was the site of a high-water fatality on Jan. 1, 2011.

Dirty S

Class - III Mile - 0.3

Next is Dirty S, named for the way you run this class-III drop.

Middle Ledge

Class - III Mile - 0.4

Middle Ledge (III) is an eight-foot plunge with an automatic boof if run towards river right. At normal water levels, there is plenty of calm water between Dirty S and this drop, so it shouldn't surprise you.

 

 

 

Cry Baby

Class - N/A Mile - 0.5

Baby Falls

Class - III+ Mile - 0.6

After these ledges, you will encounter more class II water and a sharp bend to the left in the river brings you to a short class II+ rapid. Immediately after this rapid be on the lookout for a horizon line. This is Baby Falls (III+ to IV), a 15-foot drop into a pool. Eddy on river right and scout your line. If you run far right, you will practically land into an eddy. If you run the middle, you better have some speed, and the left side offers a sweet boof into the pool below. If you portage, do it on river left. (This is true for all the rapids on the Upper section.)

Diaper Wiper

Class - III+ Mile - 0.7

From the pool below Baby Falls you can see Diaper Wiper (class III, IV at higher levels), the next rapid. Run the Wiper far right for first-timers. When you are comfortable with this rapid, you can run it against the river-left bank (pic shows looking up from bottom of rapid). The left route will push you into a pillow of water at the bottom, where you'll make a 90-degree turn to the right and head back into the middle of the river. This rapid can be run several ways, but the far right line is easiest at first. Avoid the middle because of a large pinning rock midway through the rapid (shown at the far right of this picture).

Jared's Knee

Class - IV Mile - 1.3

Shortly after the Wiper you will see Bald River Falls come in on river left. Pay attention, because the action is about to pick up. About a half mile below Bald River Falls you will enter the first rapid of Jared's Knee (III-IV). There are three distinct rapids at normal flows with the actual Jared's Knee rapid making up the fourth. At higher flows, these three rapids become one big rapid, so make sure you know where you are. At the bottom of Jared's Knee there is an undercut rock on river left; use caution here (undercut is on Louie's left in the picture). There have been several good pics of Jared's Knee posted below, check them out to get a good picture of the entire rapid. After this rapid it is only a short way to the take-out bridge.

Comments

default user thumbnail
Chad Spangler
|
11 years ago

The Tellico Cleanup this year is March 10th. Please helpout with it if you can. 1.2-1.3ft is plenty of water for a run of the Ledges afterwards.

default user thumbnail
Chad Spangler
|
13 years ago

A note about the undercut in Jerrod's Knee...It is located immediately river left of the "knee" rock. It is slightly undercut, but the real problem there is it narrows down to a pinch at the bottom. Be extra cautious if you are in a playboat and find yourself to the left of the knee. Swimming into this slot could be bad due to the risk of a leg getting wedged in the pinch.

default user thumbnail
Chris Kelly
|
13 years ago

I was talking with Mike Lewis (Louie on BT) today. Recently there has been some disagreement about runnable levels on the Tellico. For a long time the conventional wisdon was that 1.7 on the gauge was about minimum. However more and more people have been reporting good runs down to 1.3 and even lower.

Mike, who has been running the Tellico for more than 20 years and did a Tennessee Outdoor Life TV show on the river, went to see if he could figure what had happened. He says that the river bed under the gauge has gotten scoured out and, relyng on some of his long time water marks, he thinks that what was 1.7 is now about 1.3.

This means that the river is runnable lower than many of us generally thought. If you like the Tellico then you might want to try it down to the 1.3 range, or, for my money, even lower. Please report you runs and levels. Chris Kelly

default user thumbnail
Garrick Taylor
|
7 years ago

The tree below cry-baby was gone in early December

default user thumbnail
Griswold Steve
|
4 years ago

Large tree down in the chute, river left, just before Jarrads Knee. Easily seen, and can be avoided by taking the sneak in the ledge just to the right of the chute.

default user thumbnail
Micah Goodwin
|
9 years ago

One of my most favorite runs, ever. Always scout for wood beforehand (as it's really easy to do with the road). If you do decide to huck Bald River Falls, be VERY careful on the climb up on the right side and lowering yourself into the pool below. The slipping potential combined with the rock-landing could be disastrous. I and several others have run BRF at levels down to 1.4, in both creekers and playboats, so the thing is almost always good to go. Recently, a vertical pin occured at Jared's Knee by actually going too far to the right, close to the undercut on river right at lower levels. Footage of where this pin is is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6L5W13zYxY , courtesy of Adam Willard.

default user thumbnail
|
9 years ago

I ran it several weeks ago when it was around 2.3. I was up there with two other people, and we meet up with about 10 others. Some we knew, some we didn't know. Regardless we all set shuttles with each other and made party runs in one big group, it was a blast! Us three that drove up in the same car, camped (napped for 2 hours) and put on in 6am, there was barely light. We made 5 runs before noon then went to a place in Tellico Plains called Prospectors. I rein the only person to beat there food eating challenge! Then had enough time to go to the Ocoee on the way back to GA. What a great day!

default user thumbnail
Katie
|
9 years ago

Crack in the Rock: This would have been a warning/hazard comment, but a heavy duty saw and z-drag were used yesterday to remove a river wide log at the bottom of Crack in the Rock. This log was 2' above water level in swift current, and not visible when river scouting. It is now at rest in the eddy river right. Thanks to AW, TVCC and AARPRR members Jim and Jeff. Katie Larue

default user thumbnail
|
9 years ago

Thomas Oliver and myself ran the whole section down to the Knee at 14,000 cfs. Baby Falls was about a 6-8ft drop (Major Hazard). Swimming any of the top drops or the Knee would be really bad.

default user thumbnail
n/a
|
9 years ago

Not certain how much the botoxing of one's balls has to do with this run but I do think this is one of the best ones in tenn.

default user thumbnail
n/a
|
9 years ago

PLAIN AND SIMPLE, THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST FUN CREEKS I HAVE EVER RUN IN MY OPINION!!!

Gauge Description


Low 250 cfs
Good 500-800 cfs
High 1000+ cfs

At higher flows, the last 1/2 mile of the Upper Tellico becomes significantly more difficult than the upper portion. However:

Warning!
In the light of the recent fatality on the Tellico and a subsequent near-miss, members of the victim's party have requested that strong warnings be placed on the Tellico page (section 2) as follows:
The top drops in the Ledges section (Top Ledge, Middle Ledge, and Baby Falls) become extremely retentive at levels over 1000 cfs (3.5 ft--editor's note). They should be warned that a paddler was killed on January 1, 2011 at the first ledge. Water levels were very high. Also, in my opinion, the Ledges should be considered Class IV+ at these levels.
Thanks!
Charlie Walbridge

Link to accident report from January 1, 2011

USGS gauge gives levels in both gauge height and cfs.

The minimum suggested level is about 280 cfs. The Upper Tellico can be run much lower (down to 150 cfs) but it is not the same river. No push, lots of scraping, lots of rocks. 300 cfs is an enjoyable low level.  (Please read comments about the change in opinion on the minimum levels this river is runnable).

;

Directions Description


Located in Tellico Plains, TN.
Follow TN 68 until you get to Tellico Plains. After you get into Tellico Plains, pick up TN 165, which will take you to the river. The road will split; stay right (still on TN 165).
There will be a parking lot on the right side called "Oosterneck." This is the lower run takeout.
Passing this parking area, the road will split again. Again stay right. This road parallels the Tellico all the way.
You will cross a bridge and see Bald River Falls on your right (80+ feet) with the Tellico on your left. Continue up the road until you cross another bridge. Shortly there will be a pull-off on your right. This is the put-in.
The take-out is the bridge after Jared's Knee. For a bit longer trip, boat the class III water below Jared's and take out at Turkey Creek, part of the Lower Tellico run.

;
Date Flow Result Factor  
2011-01-01 High Fatality High Water Read More

Alerts

           

News

article main photo

USFS to host Tellico River Cleanup

2008-01-30 00:00:00-05
Ben Van Camp

The US Forest Service is organizing a river cleanup on Tennesse's Annual River Clean Up on Saturday, March 08, 2008. Last year’s clean up saw over 200 participants and nearly 2 tons of trash was collected along TellicoRiver, North River and the North Carolina OHV Area. This event is being sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, Trout Unlimited,  Chattanooga Trout Association, American Whitewater, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

article main photo

USGS Tellico Gauge: The Rest of the Story

2001-10-15 00:00:00-04
Joe Greiner

The new USGS Tellico River gauge is now online. How did it get there? Read about how American Whitewater and boaters like you worked to get this important gauge reported in realtime and onto the internet.
user-avatar

Daniel Fosbinder

user-avatar

Thomas O'Keefe

user-avatar

Matt Muir

user-avatar

wreeves

user-avatar

joe stubbs