The West Fork is something different for those jaded by the North Fork. It has a slightly different character, and offers the chance to go big more than once. Three times in fact, in a row. This different and slightly bigger character comes with some consequences though, as this river has taken a life, unlike it's brother. There is a dangerous pothole in the first slide, small but significant seives in the boulder garden, and some bad lumber all through the run. Takeout: From Headwaters Outfitters at 64 and 215, go West on 64 and look for a small factory immediately before the small bridge. Turn L into the "Shipping and Receiving" drive and park near the picnic tables. Putin: Turn L (West) on 64, and climb the grade. Turn R immediately past the CITGO gas station. Follow this road (SR 1309) until it crosses the river. Park on the left or right. You can hike down the river left bank to the first drop to get a feel for the flow. It's about a quarter of a mile.
When we first ran WFFB in 1981 we called the first slide Jacob's Ladder, the second Twister, and the third Plaid.
We had just run the NF and stopped at a convenience store to ask about the WF. The woman told us she had fished it but that it had a bunch of waterfalls on it. We told her that is what we were looking for and asked how to get to the putin. She said "if that's what your looking for, you'll be happy". We caught a ride up with a farmer that lives at the takeout. We had to sit in his living room and wait for him to finish his lunch with his wife telling him to "hurry and eat these boys have things to do".
For the WFFB uninitiated reading this page, you definitely want to boof the ledge at the bottom of the first slide. There is a pothole in there, and I have watched it piton and pitchpole a very good boater who mis-timed his last stroke. At 3", it really doesn't want to let you get to the right wall to skim around the ledge with that small tongue. Middle, it seems, is where the pothole is. Most successful seemed to be entering middle at top and heading left, then throwing a righty boof off the lip. That drop is so much fun when you hit it correctly, but please don't take it lightly due to the pothole.
On March 5 I and a guy named Dan from Boatertalk spent the afternoon cutting strainers out of the West Fork. We spent several hours on the logjam in one of the middle
Could the person who posted the Class V tubing video please repost it as an AVI file? I can't open it as is and I really want to see the carnage. Thanks
I watched a bud pin in the pothole in the first drop. He was paddling a Cruise Control set up as a C-1. He was ejected out of his boat hard enough to rip out the thigh straps. After that, I ran right.
The gauge is on the SR 1309 bridge at the Put-in. 6 inchs below the MIDDLE of zero is the minimum. This is usually running with the North Fork is running, and a 0 on the NF gauge will corelate roughly with -6 on this gauge. At a reading of +3, the third slide becomes one long drop, and the boulder garden begins to bump up and pad out.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
DN running 1st slide
Nathan: third slide
DC: third slide.
James: third slide
Zach on the third slide
Rusty on the third slide.
Tyler on the third slide
James on the second slide
Rusty on the second slide.
Tyler on the second slide.
Glen on the second slide.
Nathan on the first slide
Tyler on the first slide
Class V Tubing
1st Slide Below
Dropping the line on the 1st Slide
1st slide Vid clip
Upstream view of the 1st slide
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
The recent death of Chris Clark at Python Rapid on North Carolina's Cheoah River is the third at this site in the last six years. In each case, the person who died was an expert paddler and their paddling partners did not see exactly what happened. Let's take a close look at the Cheoah below Bear Creek Falls and develop strategies for future runs. The river here is very fast and continuous. After a fast lead-in (Chaos), the river drops over Bear Creek Falls, a 12' drop. Below, most of the flow pushes toward the river right channel (Python). Ferrying over to the easier river left channel (the West Prong) requires careful boat control. Python itself contains several nasty holes and sieves, with a bad hole blocked by a boulder at the bottom. There is a good route through it, but paddlers need to plan their route carefully. Scouting is a good idea for first timers, although catching eddies and getting out is not going to be easy. Groups need to stay together.. The rapid is tough enough that you can't watch your buddy all the time, but you can be ready to help if needed. Click through for links to the accident reports, photos, and comments from expert Cheoah River paddlers. (Photo above by Boyd Ruppelt)
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