Tuckasegee - Section 3. Dillsboro to Rt. 1392 (Barkers Creek)

Tuckasegee, North Carolina, US


Section 3. Dillsboro to Rt. 1392 (Barkers Creek) (Tuck Gorge)

Usual Difficulty II-III (for normal flows)
Length 5.3 Miles

Dillsboro Drop

Dillsboro Drop
Photo by Steve Pack taken 01/28/12

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03510577 500 - 5000 cfs II-III 00h46m 1160 cfs (running)

River Description

The Tuck is a fun river that runs regularly and is an excellent place to learn to paddle or work on skills. There are many places to practice eddy turns, ferries and peel outs without serious consequences. The minimum "fun" level is about 450-500 cfs with 800-1500 cfs being a nice level that covers up most of the shallow sections, without being too pushy. The rapids are wave trains/holes with good pools below to recover boats and swimmers.

American Whitewater worked with Duke Energy, paddling clubs, and others to negotiate a significant series of dam releases and access areas on the Tuckasegee River starting in 2001. Together we created a vision of a fully accessible Tuckasegee River, from the headwaters to Fontana Reservoir.  Controversy around the removal Dillsboro Dam caused delays, but as of 2016 that vision has become a reality with 13 public access areas having been built at strategic intervals along the river. Thanks to the flows and access, the Tuck supports rafting companies, summer camps, float fishing, and significant private boating visits.

ALERT: Didymosphenia geminate, a slimey invasive algae known as rock snot, was found in the Tuck in 2016. Please rinse all mud and sand off your boat and gear before leaving the Tuck, and clean, drain, and dry your stuff before heading to the next river. It is our responsibility to avoid transporting this damaging algae to other rivers to protect the native aquatic species. Watch this video to learn more.  

Flow Releases: The Tuck release schedule is robust! Check out the 3-day flow forecast (select "Nantahala Area" from the dropdown menu). Since the releases come from two forks (East Fork @ 700cfs and West Fork @ 500cfs) and because it takes a while for the water to travel the 35 mile length of River, Duke Energy has made a convenient online tool that calculates the timing of releases planned for the next few days at a range of locations. You can find links to the annual schedule here if you want to plan farther ahead.

Put-In There is a new put-in with a large parking area and restrooms on North River Road that was part of the dam relicensing agreement. Turn off of Rt. 441 onto North River Road. The old one under the bridge in Dillsboro can still be used if you wish to bypass the first rapid. The old put in is a public access area and it's status has not changed, in spite of there being other access. This information has been confirmed with the City of Dillsboro. 

Take-Out There is a new take-out for this reach that was also a result of the dam relicensing process. The new take-out is 0.3 miles downstream from the old take-out at Tuckasegee Outfitters. Please use this new take-out. The new owner of Tuckasegee Outfitters requests private boaters to use the new takout to free up his parking lot for rafting and tubing customers. The new Duke takeout has a paved and gravel parking lot in addition to a concrete ramp. Update 2016-09-06: There is now a premanent pit toilet  facility at the takeout which is large enough to change in if necessary.

Access Area Map: Explore a great map of river and reservoir access sites. 

Shuttle Services: (Call first)

Smoky Mountain River Adventures  828-586-5285

Dillsboro River Company  828-586-3797

Tuckasegee Outfitters  888-593-5050.



StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-03-29 16:33:16


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Duke Put InN/APutin Photo
0.3Dillsboro DropIIIPhoto
1.0Railroad BridgeIIPhoto
1.11st HoleIIPhoto
1.42nd HoleII+Photo
2.0Double DropIIIPhoto
2.3Sling ShotII
3.0Suprise HoleII
3.5Surfing RapidII
4.5Shark ToothIIPhoto
5.0Barkers Creek BridgeN/ATakeout Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Duke Put In (Class N/A)

Ramp at the new put in.

Ramp at the new put in.
Photo taken 06/15/11

Dillsboro Drop (Class III, Mile 0.3)

The Tuckaseegee at Dillsboro

The Tuckaseegee at Dillsboro
Photo taken 06/15/11

Ledge exposed by the removal of Dillboro Dam. Can be run in several places. The two most popular lines are slightly left of center over a toungue with a drop or far river right. Be careful of the right line as it is shallow and rocky after the diagonal wave. Scouting is recommended for first timers. The rapid is shallow in many areas, so a flip might get you scraped up.

Can be easily scouted from river right on the way to the put in or from river left on shore.

The rapid can easily be portaged on river left.

This rapid is given an easy Class III rating due to being shallow at normal flows with some consequences if you flip.

Railroad Bridge (Class II, Mile 1.0)

Railroad Bridge

Railroad Bridge
Photo by Steve Pack taken 11/29/11 @ 2500 cfs

Starts below the railroad bridge. Usually run starting left and keeping left over the first small ledge. Then, working back right to the middle of the river. 1st hole is right below.

1st Hole (Class II, Mile 1.1)

First Hole Rapid

First Hole Rapid
Photo by Steve Pack taken 05/21/12 @ 800 cfs

Good play hole at some lower levels. Good eddy hopping practice, too. The hole can be skirted to the left or right.

2nd Hole (Class II+, Mile 1.4)

Second Hole Rapid

Second Hole Rapid
Photo by Steve Pack taken 02/18/12

A lot like 1st hole, but there is an undercut rock on the right side. Nothing major, just be aware.Prudential Rock is at the top of the rapid and can be run on the left or right.


Moonshot (Class II, Mile 1.8)

Moonshot Rapid

Moonshot Rapid
Photo by Steve Pack taken 05/21/12 @ 800 cfs

Pretty long rapid. Best run against the left bank. There are several side stream eddies on river left for eddy hopping practice as well as some in the center for ferrying practice.

Double Drop (Class III, Mile 2.0)

Double Drop

Double Drop
Photo by Steve Pack taken 11/29/11 @ 2500 cfs

This one has some of the biggest waves on the river. Fun play waves at low levels. Theres a good boof at the second drop. The wave train below the second drop is a good place to practice your roll in whitewater. The is a small eddy at top center of the first drop for trying your eddy catching skills. It gets smaller and more challenging as flows increase.

Sling Shot (Class II, Mile 2.3)

As the name implies...slings boats from left to right. Pretty straight foward though. Swirly eddy line on bottom left.

Suprise Hole (Class II, Mile 3.0)

Small hole in the middle of a long set of shoals.

Surfing Rapid (Class II, Mile 3.5)

Fun surf at higher levels. Occurs in a set of shoals also.

Shark Tooth (Class II, Mile 4.5)

Sharkstooth Rapid

Sharkstooth Rapid
Photo by Steve Pack taken 09/11/12

Last rapid on the Tuck. Nothing major though. Usually run on right side.

Barkers Creek Bridge (Class N/A, Mile 5.0)

Take Out

Take Out
Photo by Steve Pack taken 02/27/12

Take out on river right about a quarter mile past the bridge at the new Duke takeout.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
September 19 2014 (1580 days ago)
simonkrzych (155765)
July 4th: Tuckasegee Section 3. ~700 cfs. Great run for G to canoe. Its a length we like. about 10
class 2+ to 3- rapids. G rode in the raft for the dam rapid and canoed a majority of the rest of
them. Models swam out of canoes, J swam out of duckie near the end. Rope swing on river right about
3/4 of the way through the trip. Decent scenery, lots of houses in the first half.
April 7 2014 (1745 days ago)
Lee H ThonusDetails
2014 release schedule can be found at
June 19 2013 (2037 days ago)
Steve PackDetails
The cables have been removed. No hazard. There are two steel cables across the river downstream
from First Hole Rapid in the right channel around the island. They are about 4-5 feet above the
water at 1800 cfs. They were not a hazard today, but could be at higher water or if they become
slack. They were unmarked.
May 3 2013 (2084 days ago)
Lee H ThonusDetails
For 2013 the release schedule is at
June 6 2012 (2415 days ago)
Willy YoungDetails
In 2011 during CCC WOR's I ran the Tuck on the first Saturday of the paddling week. I was trying to
take it easy because I had an opportunity to go on a trip to the Middle Fork of the Salmon. Our
leader ran a little left of center off of a tongue. I thought it looked simple enough to me. I
thought I ran the same line. I flipped to my right which was my offside. I immediately was snagged
by rocks. My shoulder hit, it cracked and poped. My neck cracked and poped. I couldn't get out of
my outfitting. I was dragged for several feet while beating on the rocks. I finally came out of my
boat. I just set on a rock there in the middle of the river for a while. My right shoulder was
killing me, but everything seemed to be in place. I got back to the old takeout and managed to get
one of the commmercial guys to take me and my canoe back to the takeout. My right shoulder was
black and blue for weeks. I wasn't able to paddle the rest of the week. I did get to make my Middle
Fork trip. That was the absolute worst beating I have ever had in twenty years of paddling.
May 27 2012 (2425 days ago)
Steve PackDetails
Be careful when running the new rapid in Dillsboro where the dam was removed. It is a technically
easy Class III rapid, but the entire rapid is very shallow. The lines are obvious, but there is
very little room to roll before it becomes very bony. There have been a few minor injuries and
scrapes from both kayakers and commercial ducky trips. Rafts and solid Class III paddlers with a
fast roll should not have any problems. This warning is mainly aimed at the inexperienced Class II
paddler and family ducky drivers. The commercial companies are generally not running this with
ducky trips because of the potential for injury. Scout it first and be aware that it's shallow.
Scouting is easy from river right while driving to the put in and from river left after taking out
immediately above.
February 22 2012 (2520 days ago)
Steve PackDetails
Be careful of the right side line on the new Dillsboro Drop rapid. There are some rocks that will
eat you if you flip and don't roll up fast. Got some scrapes on my body and helmet for my troubles
on 6/25 at 800 cfs. Most people seem to be running the center line instead of the right line.
June 15 2011 (2772 days ago)
Steve PackDetails
I just took over the page to update it. Please sent me any comments or information. The page has
been updated for the location of the new put in, gauge information, the new rapids and new photos
June 10 2011 (2777 days ago)
Steve PackDetails
Yes, there needs to be information added about the new rapids at Dillsboro. I'd have to called it
good Class III. I've run it two ways, down the right side and slightly left of center. The right
line is good, but requires watching for rocks. The center line is pretty easy and smooth at normal
release level. There are also some good play spots. One of the best rapids on the river.
June 7 2011 (2780 days ago)
dark sideDetails
No addition of dam area yet? There is one notable rapid here. I think a solid class three. There
are a few runs. Run on river right is a bit bony with what appears to be a slight boof. Run looks
about 8 feet from bank. There looks to be a center run also. There is a run left of center on a
tongue. Eddy out at top left to scout from the boat then hit the tongue center. There is an eddy on
right about halfway down or you can shoot to bottom of rapid. There is one large rock at bottom of
rapid to run around at lower level. If you run the tongue too far to right there is a grabby hole
that may pull you right. Hole to left of tongue looks like it would push you back to center. Below
that is a small easy rapid (less than class 2) before the bridge.
March 8 2010 (3236 days ago)
Garrick TaylorDetails
Changed gauge to Barker's Creek gauge which is at the takeout for this run and is a better gauge
than the previous Bryson City gauge, which is many miles downstream.
May 8 2009 (3540 days ago)
Bryan MangumDetails
My buddy and I are students from WCU and we went out this morning (05/07/09) around 11:00 a.m. The
level was at 5,810 CFS. I have been down the tuck countless number of times instructing, or just
for leisure. Today was the funnest I have had out there. We put in Dillsboro and paddled Scotts
Creek into the Tuck. Right across the hotel there was a new tree down, and those little rapids
there weren't too bad. Once we got down to Railroad then things "beefed" up a bit. It added some
new features on River Left, and the Railroad hole was pumping at this level. It look a bit choppy,
and I had a creek boat so I didn't get in. As for the other rapids. nice 2-3 foot waves. There are
numerous decent playholes and waves along the way. Double Drop had a face lift to it. It had about
3-4 ft waves in the middle which were fun. To sum it all up, The Tuck at 5,800 is like running the
entance rapids to the Nantahala Falls. It was a lot of fun consider the fact I drove about 13
minutes to get there.
May 4 2009 (3544 days ago)
Chad GarrettDetails
I paddle this section regularly and I have a couple of comments concerning the gauge and the
release schedule described in an earlier comment. First of all, the number used by AW in their
river levels page for this section is not the most accurate depiction of water in the gorge. They
use the numbers from the Bryson City gauge which is almost always higher than the actual CFS in the
gorge. HOWEVER, it appears that their MINIMUM level is based on the levels near Bryson City, so I
guess it's all relative. For accurate flow levels in the gorge, check the USGS gauge for Tuckasegee
R at Barkers Creek (This is the take out). Below is the link directly to the Gauge page.
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nc/nwis/uv/?site_no=03510577&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060 I would say a
nice minimum on the Barkers Creek gauge would be around 500 with a BARE minimum of 400-450. As the
water rises, this turns into a solid Class II run with decent sized holes and wave trains that are
a small step down from most of what you find on the Nantahala. At around 2000 on the Bryson City
gauge, the Tuck becomes one of the best novice runs in the mountains. It can be used to prepare you
well for the Nantahala if you are interested in running that frozen river without swimming on you
FIRST attempt.
April 3 2006 (4671 days ago)
Foster LanderDetails
Double Drop is definitely overrated, especially at low and normal flows-at these levels, it is a
II. At higher flows (very high),it is easily a III but very straightforward and fun.
All you do is stay in the middle and plow right through.
January 31 2005 (5098 days ago)
Kevin ColburnDetails
The flow schedule:

(1) During the Primary Angling Periods (defined as the first weekend after Labor
Day through the last weekend of October and April 1 through the first weekend of
June), the preferred flows are at or below about 500 cfs as measured at the
reactivated USGS Gage #03510500 at Dillsboro (
August 11 2003 (5637 days ago)
Fritz CrytzerDetails
4 Aug 03: Ran it at about 2.5 feet. A fun run at this level and not at all intimidating. I would
rate this at II to II+ at this level. The folks at the outfitters just below the bridge at the
take-out were very accomodating in allowing me to leave the take-out vehicle there and using their
ramp for the take-out.


Calendar Control Date:
Calendar by Date by Title

January 2019



Associated Projects

  • Tuckasegee Relicensing (NC)
    AW signed a settlement calling for new dam releases, sweeping conservation measures, new access, and the removal of Dillsboro Dam in North Carolina.