This photo needs editing.
Difficulty V+
Length 1.5 Miles
Gauge N/A
Flow Range
Reach Info Last Updated 08/05/2015 8:02 pm

River Description

From Tanassee Creek Reservoir, the East Fork of the Tuckasegee flows through a rocky gorge, studded with giant potholes, large strainers, and dangerous sieves. In the heart of the run is the 400-foot vertical namesake of the Gorge, the Bonas Defeat cliff, where legend claims a local hunting dog named Bonas plunged to his death while chasing a bear. Here, the river drops 240 feet in a little over 0.4 mile, with most of the water running in, around, and through large boulders.

Bonas Defeat is currently dewatered and rarely runs at boatable levels. However, American Whitewater is currently involved in the process of relicensing the East Fork Tuckasegee to accomodate several yearly recreational flows for experts only. American Whitewater conducted a non-boating test flow in this reach with some of the most accomplished local boaters in Western North Carolina. The participants concluded that Bonas Defeat Gorge was inordinately dangerous. Some stated that they would run it once or twice just to run it; others weren't as optimistic. In any case, boatable flows to this reach should return by 2006. Another jewel in the Tuckasegee headwaters relicensing (and a much more reasonable alternative for mere mortals) is the West Fork of the Tuckasegee, a nearby nine-mile Class IV creek with a larger watershed and the potential for a much longer release schedule than Bonas.

Directions to Bonas Defeat Gorge: Take NC 281 south from the town of Tuckasegee toward Wolf Creek Reservoir. Take Gray's Ridge Road just north of Wolf Creek Baptist Church. This is a rough gravel road that is one to two miles long with a turnaround. Park as far up the road as possible, making sure to not block any driveways. Cross the river to the south on the metal-covered bridge, and turn left upstream at the powerhouse. Follow the Tuckasegee River upstream to the dam spillway for Tanasee Reservoir, on the left. Walk up the spillway and take the access road to the west to the ridgetop. Continue west down the access road, returning to the powerhouse.

Please visit this link for photos and a trip description from a Bonas Defeat Gorge hiking trip.

Rapid Descriptions


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John Bowers
14 years ago

The bridge across the river has washed out. Follow the trail on river right to get to the powerhouse.

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Kevin Colburn
15 years ago

Note: The settlement agreement for this project does not include recreational releases on Bonas.

No Gage

Gage Descriptions

Currently dewatered. Rarely runs. And if it does, then don't think about it without a hike first.

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.

No Accident Reports




Kevin Colburn


Sutton Bacon


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1205179 08/05/15 Kevin Colburn map accuracy
1193598 05/14/05 Sutton Bacon n/a