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Difficulty II-III
Length 5.4 Miles
Flow Range 1.40 - 4.00 FT
Flow Rate as of: 46 minutes ago 1.78 [FT]
Reach Info Last Updated 04/28/2006 7:25 am

River Description

Logistics: From Tellico Plains head east on Highway 165 out of town and at mile 5.3 you will come to the Oosterneck Day Use Area that is generally used as the take-out for this reach due to the ample off-road parking. Continue on up the road another 0.1 mile and turn right on FR 210. The Ranger Station access is at mile 0.4 but there are numerous roadside pullouts and any of the ones in the first two miles make good alternative take outs particularly for those who are continuing from the ledge run that starts above this one. The great thing about this run is you can pick your access point depending on how much time you have and what you want to run. The traditional put-in for this middle reach is at the bridge at FR 210 mile 5.3. Put-in on upstream river left where you will find a good pullout. If you want to run 2 miles of quality class IV you can check out the next run upstream that includes Baby Falls and several fun ledge drops.

Description: The Lower Tellico provides paddlers with a unique opportunity to choose from one of several different possible runs by selecting from multiple access points. Those looking for more of a challenge start their runs further upstream, while those who donÂt want to get things started right away with challenging class III drops can find an access a short distance downstream. The convenient roadside access makes it easy for folks to join the group wherever they feel most comfortable. The gradient over the 5 miles of this run averages 50 fpm but gradually ramps down in the one mile segments as follows: 80, 53, 45, 40, and 32.

The run starts right off with a bang at the first class III rapid at the bridge. The hole under the right side of the bridge can get mean at higher flows. Only a short distance downstream youÂll find the next class III known as Ledges. The next rapid is Bounce off Boulder (BOB), notable by a large sloping rock on the left. Long boats can get enders in the hole at the base of the boulder, short boats can get nearly looped. Turkey Creek which enters from river right 0.8 miles into this run serves as an alternate access that avoids these more challenging drops and is also an alternate take-out for those running the upper run.

Below this point the run is mostly class II with occasional class III drops including Crack in the Rock (class III), Gregs Nose (class III), Submarine (class III-), and Pylon Rapid (class III-). Reeders Rock is another named class II that comes after these. This rapid is noted for the keep right sign and the deceptive undercut wall on the left. The nasty undercut is the rock that the sign is on, but the walls downstream are undercut as well. There was a drowning here in 1989. In another mile youÂll reach the Ranger Road access. Paddlers typically continue another half mile downstream to the access at the Oosterneck Day Use Area.

See Julie Keller's excellent article for additional information as well as Grateful Ed's Virtual Tellico Tour.

The Tellico is a great river for a group as just about everyone can find something to enjoy, and even if the water gets high you can check out other sections. In addition to a couple of tributary creeks, the other Tellico runs include:
1. Trout Hatchery to Bridge above Bald River (Class II-III+),
2. Bridge above Bald River to bridge below Jerod's Knee (Upper Tellico) (Class III-IV+)
4. Ranger Station to Tellico Plains (Class I-III).

Rapid Descriptions


Class - Mile - 0
The put-in eddy is just below the parking area. This is also the take-out for the upper run.

Bridge Rapid

Class - III Mile - 0
Easy Class 3 that is usually run down the river right side.

Reeders Rock

Class - N/A Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

The Ledges

Class - III Mile - 0.1
At normal flows run down the left.

Bounce off Boulder

Class - III+ Mile - 0.4
Run down the right, then ride the curler off the large sloping rock on the left. The hole at the bottom is good for enders, and the occasionally flushy cartwheel.

Turkey Creek

Class - II Mile - 0.8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
A popular access point. A large creek comes in on river left. Carry up under the bridge on the downstream side and up to the cars.


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Judith Ranelli
2 years ago

The section from the bridge below Jared's Knee to the Pylon rapid is a fun, pool-drop, easy intro to creeking run and is one of my favorites. This section has class III drops sprinkled amidst many class II and III-. I would call the section as a whole class III-, not class II-III, but that's me. The rapids are all forgiving, but be on the lookout for wood. I park a take-out vehicle at Pylon, or at Wonderwoman rapid just above Pylon. At lower flows the river past Pylon to Oosterneck can be a slog. Parking where I mentioned also takes the hassle/worry of Reeder's Rock out of the picture if you have newbies along. I've heard tales of an OCA canoe disappearing under Reeder's for a few days, so I give it a wide berth. I've run this section as low as 1.4, but 1.8 is fine, 2.3 is better, and 3.0 is a hoot.

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Simon Krzych
6 years ago

3/15/14 Tellico was great. We put on at about 3.5ft we did the bridge below Jared's knee to the ranger station. Mini me, maxi me, and safety kayak. Everything was great for rafts, maybe to big for George in the canoe.

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16 years ago

For good class 4 boaters the lower tellico is a great time at flows when the upper starts to get really scary. On those days when the rock in diaper wiper is kicking up a 10 foot roostertail and Jarrods knees is three riverwide holes....but you don't have time to drive over to citico (or citico is dry) then move on down to the lower. One area to pay close attention is the hole under the put-in bridge. The river right side starts to get evil about 1200 cfs and generally keeps getting more nasty.
My experience runs out at about 3000 cfs, but at that level most of the run was still boat scoutable.

Gage Descriptions

Low 200 cfs, High 1200 cfs. At high water this is a fun bouncy run for experienced paddlers who decide they don’t want to have an epic on the Ledges section. Flow available at 1-900-288-8732.

Gauge: conversion table, feet to cfs

1.0   66    3.5   998    8.0     4100
2.0  330    4.0  1250    9.0     5400
2.2  403    4.5  1515   10.0     7308
2.5  526    5.0  1800   11.0     9608
2.7  618    6.0  2400   12.0   12,330
3.0  770    7.0  3150   13.0   15,520  

To find the gauge:
As you head out of Tellico Plains on Highway 165 look for Highway 360 which turns to the left across the river. Immediately after you cross the river take the first right. The concrete gauge tower is a short distance upstream of the bridge on river right. You can scramble down to read the staff gauge on the outside.

Then you have to turn around, go back to the bridge, cross the river, and head back upstream on the other side to get to the take-out.

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.

Date Flow Result Factor  
2017-04-06 High Injury Cold Water Read More
1989-07-29 Low Fatality High Water Read More




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USFS to host Tellico River Cleanup

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.

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USGS Tellico Gauge: The Rest of the Story

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.

James Locke


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1191586 04/28/06 James Locke 2015
1204512 04/09/15 James Locke 2015
1204554 04/25/15 James Locke 2015
1205338 10/16/15 James Locke 2015
1206103 04/07/16 James Locke 2015
1205725 12/29/15 James Locke 2015
1206684 07/04/16 James Locke 2015