Raven Fork - 2. Enloe Creek Trail to Big Cove Road

Raven Fork, North Carolina, US


2. Enloe Creek Trail to Big Cove Road (Raven Fork Gorge)

Usual Difficulty V+ (for normal flows)
Length 2.6 Miles
Avg. Gradient 390 fpm
Max Gradient 560 fpm

Raven's Fork Gorge

Raven's Fork Gorge
Photo of Trip Kinney running the entrance to Caveman by Teresa Gryder

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03512000 800 - 3000 cfs V+ 00h52m 967 cfs (running)
Upper limit for best boatability uncertain. Please help your fellow boaters with a comment or report.

River Description

Note:  By order of the Cherokee Tribal Council, that portion of the Raven Fork crossing the Qualla Boundary (the official name of their reservation) is closed to boating.  The bottom portion of this run is located on the reservation -- it is illegal to boat it.  Carefully read the additional information below.


The majority of the Upper Raven fork is outside of the Cherokee Reservation. A good portion of the run is in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. However the takeout is squarely in reservation grounds. Please note that the Raven Fork within the reservation is presently closed to boating.

Don't even think about paddling the Raven Fork with out politely obtaining permission from those who live at the take out. There are two variations on getting to the put-in. If you're good enough to be on this run you'll track down that info from one of the local experts.

Some of the larger named drops include (not in order), Jedi Training, Harjes Rapid (where Chris blew out his shoulder), Cave Man, Anaconda, Headless Horseman, Mortal Kombat, Mike Tyson's punchout, Big Boy, Atomic Elbow Crusher, Mangler and others.

The top mile accessed via the Enloe Creek Trail is 400 feet. The next two are the same, but a bulk of the gradient is in the middle at 560 ft/mile, and the 3/4 mile stretch from jedi training through mangler is 730 ft/mile. As steep as the steepest 3/4 mile on road prong, but pool drop. Tell me that aint the steepest 3/4 mile of boating in the SE.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2009-12-15 16:14:29


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.4Big Boof5.0Portage Hazard Waterfall
0.5Easy SlideIVWaterfall Photo
0.8Fluffy5.0Hazard Waterfall Photo
1.0Lord of the Rings5.0
1.1Anaconda5.2Access Hazard
1.2Headless Horseman5.1Hazard Video
1.2Class 4 with woodPortage Hazard
1.3Right Right5.0Hazard Waterfall
1.3Log SlotIV+Hazard
1.4Unnamed boogieIV
1.4Hale Mary5.3Portage Hazard Waterfall
1.4Jedi Training5.0Hazard Photo
1.4More unnammed boogieIV
1.4Mortal Combat5.1Hazard Waterfall Photo
1.5Boof above Big BoyIVPhoto
1.5Wet Willy5.1Hazard Waterfall Photo
1.6Big Boy5.3Portage Hazard Waterfall Photo
1.6Super Collider5.2Hazard Waterfall
1.6Atomic Elbow Crusher5.2Hazard Waterfall
1.7Mike Tyson's Punchout5.2Hazard Waterfall Photo
1.7Caveman5.1Hazard Photo
1.7Harjes Rapid5.0Hazard Waterfall Photo
1.9Mangler5.3Portage Hazard Waterfall
2.1Little Headless HorsemanIV+

Rapid Descriptions

Big Boof (Class 5.0, Mile 0.4)

The bottom is unfortunately clogged with wood. 15 foot superboof.

Easy Slide (Class IV, Mile 0.5)

Raven Fork Buggie

Raven Fork Buggie
Photo of unknown by Daniel Talley taken 6/04 @ 10"

Fun and Easy                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Fluffy (Class 5.0, Mile 0.8)

Some Raven Big Stuff

Some Raven Big Stuff
Photo of Chris Young by Daniel Talley

20 foot waterfall into a big pothole on the right. Run center.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Lord of the Rings (Class 5.0, Mile 1.0)
A great warm up, this drop is magical. 5 drops. First 6 foot shoulder on right, second boof 8 feet straight, third delayed hole punch down the middle with alcove on left, fourth, slide right of center, thread between two logs, fifth, boof right.

Anaconda (Class 5.2, Mile 1.1)
This is probably the hardest rapid other than big boy and the portages.

Headless Horseman (Class 5.1, Mile 1.2)
Click Here For Video
Big hole at high water, Don't flip!

Class 4 with wood
I am sure some run it without noticing the wood, but it could definitely kill you. Most people portage left.

Right Right (Class 5.0, Mile 1.3)
A great rapid with two entrances: Tight on the right and boof in from the left. Either way, stay right. Hence the name.

Razorback (Class 5.1, Mile 1.3)
The top of this one is often portaged, especially at low water, since most of the flow goes into a death trap of an undercut on the left. Seal launch in from the top of the undercut, or with ample water, drive right into the safe zone. From here keep working right down a long, fun, and bouncy slide, staying away from possible trouble on the bottom left.

Log Slot (Class IV+, Mile 1.3)
I am sure this one didn't have a name untill a log lodged vertically about 2 feet down from the slot. Its undercut on the right and recirc on the left and the line to the left or right of the log right below is fine. Swims have occurred here.

Unnamed boogie (Class IV, Mile 1.4)
Three drops of welcomed smallness and ease. A ten foot cascade, a wall shot on the right and a shoulder boof.

Hale Mary (Class 5.3, Mile 1.4)
You can wheelchair it on the right, or portage. Very few have run the tight centerline that has a critical ridge of rock that tends to spin people out into a bad undercut rock hanging halfway down the cascade. Named after Jason Hale when he pinned for a good while here.

Jedi Training (Class 5.0, Mile 1.4)

Jedi Training

Jedi Training
Photo of Jerry Jascomb by Ted Hayes taken 07/15/05 @ 13"

More fun than hard, and large. Slide down the entrance slide lining up for the big hole much like a larger line on zwick's on the green. MOst people drop into the slide on the right afterwards that winds down a crack on the right wall. Lean into the wall curler and before you know it you are at the bottom. You can also punch more of the meat and run a shallow but fun line down the middle/left.

More unnammed boogie (Class IV, Mile 1.4)
Another relaxing stretch of class 4, with two low angle bedrock bouncy affairs

Mortal Combat (Class 5.1, Mile 1.4)

Mortal Kombat - Entrance

Mortal Kombat - Entrance
Photo of Jerry Jascomb by Ted Hayes taken 07/15/05 @ 13"

This one is the beginning of the huge. After a junky boof off the left wall(angle right), Run a class 4 entrance rapid and eddy out right or left. Here the line goes off to the right and down a big ramp into a hump. Stay to the inside(left) of the hump and keep it pointed downstream. Off to the right is a hole backed by undercut formations. Run down the final 15 foot slide trying to stay on the right of 2 teeth that stick up on the horizon. The hole kicks left into a wall.

Boof above Big Boy (Class IV, Mile 1.5)

Boof Above Big Boy

Boof Above Big Boy
Photo of Ted Hayes by Jerry Jascomb taken July 8, 05 @ 13

Right below Wet Willy are two boofs. The second one signals its time to get out on the right above Big Boy.                                                                                           

Wet Willy (Class 5.1, Mile 1.5)

Center Line at Wet Willy

Center Line at Wet Willy
Photo of KE by NH taken 02/03/08 @ 4.5 inches

The centerline is the easiest, and has a great boof at the bottom, but watch the cave on the left. Right is best with good water, a straightforward flume. Some run the left, but it is least common.

Big Boy (Class 5.3, Mile 1.6)

Big Boy

Big Boy
Photo of Ted Hayes by Jerry Jascomb taken July 8, 05 @ 13

This is reputed to be the most serious drop in the Southeast. No one seems to argue about it. 35 foot drop with the finest of lines. Easier lower.              

Super Collider (Class 5.2, Mile 1.6)
Run down the left and then off a table like rock formation about 12 feet and don't get pinned.

Atomic Elbow Crusher (Class 5.2, Mile 1.6)
Go right or left of the Elbow Crusher rock in the landing. There are curls coming off the right wall with good water that don't like you to do the right line.

Mike Tyson's Punchout (Class 5.2, Mile 1.7)

Mike Tyson's Punch Out

Mike Tyson's Punch Out
Photo of KE by NH taken 02/03/08 @ 4.5 inches

This one drops more vert than any other and is definitely the most out of control. Its huge and will blow your mind. Must run!                                                        

Caveman (Class 5.1, Mile 1.7)


Photo of KE by NH taken 02/03/08 @ 4.5 inches

One of the harder and more technical rapids. The first drop is pushy, leading into a sticky hole right above second drop, a jagged ledge you want to run far left. Then the classic third drop, where you boof the left wall 10 feet and land on a righty so you don't go spelunking. Check the cave out afterwards, or before, if you like setting safety.

Harjes Rapid (Class 5.0, Mile 1.7)

Raven's Fork Gorge

Raven's Fork Gorge
Photo of Trip Kinney running the entrance to Caveman by Teresa Gryder

Named after Chris Harjes. This one tends to land you on a high right brace next to a cave on the right. Drive left and tuck your boat back underneath you, or sneak it on the left. In the picture, Harjes is the rapid right above Trip, with Mike Tysons the one above that. He is running first drop of Caveman.

Mangler (Class 5.3, Mile 1.9)
Its been run a few times, but its retarded looking. Big 12 foot boof that lands in a sieve that goes off another big drop that goes into a undercut with wood on the right. You can carefully seal launch next to the wood or launch from 15 feet above the pool below. Hint: its not deep.

Little Headless Horseman (Class IV+, Mile 2.1)
Kinda looks like its big brother upstream, only class 4 and easier.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
November 24 2011 (2616 days ago)
x (1)
Limb down below first boof of mike's.
July 1 2009 (3492 days ago)
Mark SingletonDetails
Park Dispatch Office number (865) 436-1230 See BoaterTalk post:
http://www.boatertalk.com/forum/BoaterTalk/1659925 June 25, 2009 - If you didn't catch it, an
overturned kayak was found just outside of the Smokies on the MP of the Little Pigeon. It spurred a
search and rescue scenario that was serious enough for it to be reported to local TV stations. Not
sure of the outcome and I hope everyone is OK. But this did raise a very significant question. Who
do we notify when we a boat gets pinned or gets out of our control in the Smokies and darkness or
other circumstances force us to abandon it for any period of time? My friend Russell asked this
question and this was his post on a local paddling list serve. I asked the GSMNP folks what would
be the best way to report a lost boat.Here is their reply: Hello, If there is a report of an
accident or missing person, the park responds and/or conducts a search, but just finding an empty
kayak in the water would not necessarily result in a full-fledged search and rescue effort as the
town of Pittman Center launched during the recent incident. If one of your club members loses a
boat, but is otherwise okay, please call the park's Dispatch Office at (865) 436-1230 to let them
know that an empty boat may be found and it is not an emergency situation. This is a non-emergency
line which is staffed from 6:00 a.m. - midnight, but if a serious accident or other emergency has
occurred in the park, sometimes all available dispatchers have to concentrate on radio
communications among responding units and don't answer the line. If there is an accident with a
serious injury or a member of your party is known to be missing, please call 911. Best regards,C.
BloomGreat Smoky Mountains National Park
March 21 2005 (5055 days ago)
Ravens TR New [add to watch]

Forum: BoaterTalk
Date: Mar 21 2005, 16:41 GMT
From: waterfrk09

As TDUB suggested and our group confirmed on Saturday, you can get down as low as 4 in. On Saturday
the level was exactly that. The road leading to the old railroad bed was blocked by a truck so we
opted to make the hike up and over. The hike sucks, just shoulder it and go. 2 miles up and 1 down
felt about right.

It being the entire groups first time, we took every bit of daylight we had and scouted everything.
A summary of the rapids at this level:

Big 15 boof up top with large wood exit, sketchy but runnable, easy portage on the left

Lord of the Rings
June 2 2004 (5347 days ago)
From Leland on Boatertalk:

Manuel at the takeout likes Budweiser. (they usally get him a 12 pack inexchange for parking

He's a super cool guy to talk to as well - been all over the world.

On the drive up to the putin hike there is an almost exposed drain pipe in the road. BE AWARE OF
THE PIPES AND DON"T BREAK THEM!! We damn near lost access due to someone driving over this
pipe, breaking it, and pissing off the folks who live up there. The pipe is right after you turn
right onto gravel at the top of the driveway. or at least in the first couple hundred yards. I
think it's on the right side of the road (showing in the rut) but I haven't been up there in a
while so that could be wrong.

The put-in and take-out are both on private property, the bridge and "public" road are
actually tribal land, and the whole thing is such that it's a miracle we have access at all. don't
fuck it up.
June 2 2004 (5347 days ago)
From Chris Young on Boatertalk:
about Ravens put-in/take-out (please read) New

Forum: BoaterTalk

Date: Jun 02 2004, 23:06 GMT
From: BAyoung

recently people have been abusing the generosity of of the locals. The nice man who allows us to
take out on his land usually receives some compensation (beer or smokes) but people have just
pulled up and parked without asking. Also people who have not made it all the way up the put in
raod have left their cars blockin gthe road. this not only prevents others from getting up, but
specifically their is a landowner who lives up there and this is essentially his driveway. I would
encourage people not to discuss the details of where the put-in/take out are on this board due to
nature of the situation on tribal lands. those who go to the raven can easily call someone who has
been for the necessary details. i would hate to lose this resource as there are no other backups
available and people put in a lot of work to establish this. Thanks. -Chris Young
June 2 2004 (5347 days ago)
From Leland, on boatertalk:
Ravens: 569
Toxaway: 596
Road Prong: 616

book is coming right along....only another month or two till the writing is all done!

June 2 2004 (5347 days ago)
Date: Jun 02 2004, 14:13 GMT
From: SEBoater

Anaconda (has wood)
Headless Horseman
Right Right
? (has wood)
Jedi Training (tree @ top, but room to get under it)
Mortal Combat (wood, but easily avoided)
Wet Willey
Big Boy (wood)
Atomic Elbow Cruncher
Mike Tyson's Punch Out
Harjes' rapid
the Mangler

the question marks have names, but I'm not positive on what they are. the warm-up starts out big
& then it gets bigger.

& a few in the boogie water that would probably have names if they were on any other run.

June 1 2004 (5348 days ago)
Scott McCorveyDetails
Ran it today with Ted, Ben, Andy, Payton, and myself. The Oconaluftee peaked at 2500CFS when we put
on. The gauge at the bridge registered 20inches. The drop below headless horsemen has new wood in
it. The drop below caveman also has wood in it. Run far left on that one. Caveman, Mortal, Mike
Tyson, Headless, and Anaconda were clean of wood.

October 3 2003 (5590 days ago)
the steepest mile around here (western nc) is the raven's fork, but there are several portages:

a short partage for some wood in the third rapid - but the rapid was run pre-wood.

portage around hail mary which you can scoot over in your boat (has been successfully run once by
tao, but it didn't look pretty).

portage at the mangler - this drop still hasn't been run.

even with those portages and another at big boy, i ran more hard rapids in a mile there than i have
anywhere else. maybe run 'em again tomorrow...

June 20 2003 (5695 days ago)
Wood in Big Boy. <more> New
Forum: BoaterTalk
Date: Jun 20 2003, 12:38 GMT
From: SEBoater

right right is clean
the log is gone from the pool @ jedi training
thw log in the lead in to mortal combat is gone

new wood between atomic elbow crusher & mike tyson
the log in mike tyson, at the top boof, is gone

2 trees have fallen @ the top of caveman, several branches are hanging halfway in the first drop.
it would be easy to cut them out with a small hand saw.

Oconluftee @ 850
bridge guage @ 12"

December 12 2002 (5885 days ago)
From Clay Wright from Boatertalk, March 1, 2001:
went back to the Raven Fork yesterday and it is even better with higher water. We had about 1'
3" on the "Tony Robinson" guage - a good bit higher than the "Freshwater"
footage. Big group of 8, but great weather and we all had good lines. No broken boats, paddles,
bones etc.
Daniel D's backward "anaconda" run. So good he went back and came down backwards
The surfs at Headless Horseman
Running Leelans's new "waterspout" line blind (3'wide exit)
Pat Keller surfing the 1/2 way hole in Mortal Kombat.
My piton of the log about 2.5' above the water just below.
Pat's near "face shot" into "elbow-basher" wall.
Mike Tyson's punch-out -
- this is now one of my favorite rapids ever.
10' ledge into a long curler-packed 30' slide and off about 20' vert. Like a creek-version of
Oceana after an approach series. Big trip highlight.

The Negatives:
The hike-in. over one log, under the next for 2 1/2 miles.
Continuity: pool drop, but a blown skirt or broken paddle could spell disaster. At this level, set
safety below every rapid.
Cold: about 20 degrees colder in the gorge than on the hike.
Walking Big Boy:
long and steep and loose - makes you feel like hucking and hoping . . only the next 2 rapids aren't
friendly at all. We hiked the set.
The other portages:
some BAD undercuts/logs etc along the way.
Daniel's near first Descent:
only one drop still unrun, and Daniel D just about dropped in backwards. Good thing he's such a
scrambler. All those 200% days on the Green really paid off.
Daniel, Jason Hale, and Al G hittin it again today.
Good luck, boys -