Davidson - 1. Forest Service Road 475-A @ Cove Creek to Low Head Dam

Davidson, North Carolina, US


1. Forest Service Road 475-A @ Cove Creek to Low Head Dam (Upper)

Usual Difficulty III+(IV) (for normal flows)
Length 1.25 Miles
Avg. Gradient 120 fpm

Whaleback - Not enough right boat angle = hole ride

Whaleback - Not enough right boat angle = hole ride
Photo of Dave Schall by Darrell McPeake taken 09/28/02 @ >2.0 (low)

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03441000 2.00 - 6.00 ft III+(IV) 00h48m 2.15 ft (running)
Upper limit for best boatability uncertain. Please help your fellow boaters with a comment or report.

River Description

An alt. put-in .8 mile above Cove Creek where three forks come together. This adds .8 mile and 80 ft. or so of gradient.

There is a well used and maintained trail running the length of the river on the left side.

This run starts off with its largest rapid right at the start and has numerous class III rapids within this section. With its non-stop boogie and beautiful setting within the rhododendron undergrowth you'll want to do a few quick laps of this section, and with a riverside trail it is also possible to get your mountain biking fix for the week running the shuttles. But while blasting down keep in mind that wood is a frequent visitor of this stream bed.
StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2006-12-29 12:59:12


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.1WhalesbackIVHazard Waterfall Photo
0.3Breakfast, Lunch, & DinnerIII+Photo Video
1.3Low-head DamTakeout Hazard

Rapid Descriptions

Putin just above Cove Creek and just below a river wide tree if you are planing to run Whalesback. If you are not going to park below Cove Creek and putin just below the large rock on river left of Whalesback.

Whalesback (Class IV, Mile 0.1)

Whaleback - Not enough right boat angle = hole ride

Whaleback - Not enough right boat angle = hole ride
Photo of Dave Schall by Darrell McPeake taken 09/28/02 @ >2.0 (low)

A 7ft. drop with funky cross currents up top and a big hole at bottom backed up by an underwater undercut rock.

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner (Class III+, Mile 0.3)
Click Here For Video


Photo of Bryan Dixon by Will Berkeley taken 07/08/05 @ 2.0ft

A three stage drop. The first of the three drops begins under an overhanging rock.

Low-head Dam
There is a small low head dam that doesn't pose a threat at low water but can become a mean hole at higher level. This also where you park your car and another takeout point.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
January 1 2010 (2941 days ago)
stownplayer (151140)
Ran this back three weeks ago at around 3 ft. Was very fun and I recommend putting up at the
Trailhead...around the bridge I think. It's fun little boogie water and some drops and ledges.
December 2 2009 (3336 days ago)
x (1)
Today Nick I., Ryan I., and myself decided to check out the Top Davidson, Upper Upper, or whatever
the section above the normal put in should be called. Our only beta was that there was a clean 20
something foot cascade up in those hills. Long story short the beta did not disappoint. Today the
Davidson peaked at 3.2, and we read a level of 2.0 feet on the Top Davidson gauge, which is by the
bridge a few hundred feet from the trail head. Hiking upstream 1.5 hours yielded an excellent micro
creek run, on par with the Big East of the Pigeon in quality but easier in every way and short, not
counting the hike. The trail is pretty good till the end when it splits up a trib. Cross this trib
and keep hiking upstream off trail. Scout well for wood on you're way up. We only had to portage
twice, but there's plenty in play. Be aware of the wood in the cl.II rapid downstream of the bridge
as well, you will not see it on you're hike up. We put in just downstream of where the creek forks
almost equally. With more water you could go up higher. The level we had today seemed like a good
medium-low. Aside from some great bedrock drops there is one spot where an old diversion dam poses
a problem. Currently this is runnable but very sketchy due to wood, and a big concrete cave in the
dam. We all walked this one. After running out on the upper we had the good fortune to meet some of
the folks who helped groom this stream over the summer. Again, nice work fellas, it was effort well
invested. Charley B.
September 22 2009 (3407 days ago)
ted cooksonDetails
An alternate put-in can be found upstream at the Daniel Ridge trailhead. This adds about 1/2 mile
to the run, including one good ledge drop/boof about 100 yards below where FR475 crosses the river.
March 26 2009 (3587 days ago)
Josh CarterDetails
There is a section further up the river once it diverts from the dirt road that has potential for
some good class III/IV micro creeking. You have to hike up it and there is currently a lot of wood
but there are a handfull of slides and small drops up there that look good to go.
January 2 2006 (4766 days ago)
ted cooksonDetails
Davidson River Road (FR-475) is now open again.
September 2 2004 (5252 days ago)
From Boatertalk:
Depends on flow New

Forum: BoaterTalk
Re: Question for anyone who has run the Upper Davidson... jvernon1235 New
Date: Sep 02 2004, 20:15 GMT
From: canoeman

I tend to think of it as class III+ to easy IV. It is shorter and easier than the North Fork but it
as at least three significant drops on it. Whale Tail, the first one below where a major creek
comes in, stern squirted me one time at high water. That wouldn't be such a big deal except I was
in a 12-foot open boat. Not far downstream is Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. At high water I would
say that rates Class IV, although it is pretty straightfoward. There are lots of other interesting
rapids. Should be good to go today from what I see on the guage. Watch out for strainers. It is a
micro creek and they can go all the way across.
March 20 2004 (5419 days ago)
Alex HymanDetails
On 2/6/04 the davidson was running at 4.5 ft. on the USGS gauge after 3 inches of rain. Myself
along with Ned Steadman put on a rougly 3:30 and ran from the first brigde on daniels ridge trail
to the above the lowhead dam. The whole run was runnable except whalesback which looked like it
could swallow a school bus. At flows around 3- 3.5 whalesback is runnable on the far right but the
hole looks quite stiff. At 4.5 the river is pumping all the way from the start to the finish. There
are mostly large holes and powerful chutes and low hanging limbs/trees. Whalesback, Whalestail, and
BLD should and all be scouted. If you swim hold onto your paddle or kiss it goodbye. At these
levels the river becomes solid IV. Portaging is hard in most places at these levels. BLD is almost
impossible to portage at this level.
May 11 2003 (5732 days ago)
Date: May 07 2003, 13:14 GMT
From: tallman

So we guess it was at least 4 feet. Went to the upper Davidson instead, found it at 3.65 feet at
6:30p. Got in two runs. What a fun little section! It's roadside & short, much more of a micro
creek. There are a couple of rapids that might be about class IV: "whale tail" &
"breakfast, lunch & dinner" the rest of the run is just super continous boogie water.
Excellent looking water quality, excellent scenery. There were five in our group: me, davidson,
micklouie, shannon & (a very nice local, originally from Hungary... sorry I forgot your name!)
~ Great evening on fun water.
September 28 2002 (5957 days ago)
mike lewisDetails
Good technical run for creeking. Starts off with a quick drop into a hole,will grab yah but hang on
will flush out. Next drop scout river right,big rock in middle of river to look out at. Big whale
tail rock to slide off of,keep right into an eddy to set up for final run. Peal out and hang on for
a fun river channel run down to bottom. Rest of river good drops. Boat scout, if you want to scout
can be done on river right.
Good level 2.0 on gauge on USGS
Check gauge at bridge at Hwy 280 and entrance to Pisgah Forest.

If you want any more info please feel free to email me.