The run starts off below Toxaway Falls. After hiking down to the base of the falls on river left, ferry across to river right above the seldom run middle two drops, then portage down to the base of the second of the two. Slide in here for a very long and fun slide of about 200 yards in length. Great fun!
Paddle around the corner through some flats and then the next rapid is a low quality boulder pile called First Mank.
Eddy out at the next horizon line for Twin Falls, a 15 footer split by a rock. The only sensible line is on the right trying to stay center. Make sure to hit a big boof with your weight forward. A rock shelf extends out from river right making the landing narrow.
Immediately below here the river begins its ride down a long series of class 4-4+ bedrock slides called Space Mountain. The first set is more abrubt and ledgy, with the second set being bigger, faster and lower angle class 5. After these two great sets, there is a short calm followed by a long low angle slide against the bank on the left.
After a short flat stretch the river picks back up with a 3 foot ledge followed by a fun little class 4 with a sticky hole below. Right below this the creek goes down a fun slide that falls into a big fold on the left. This one is good fun, but sometimes there is a log in the upper left hand crook of the fold, so drive out to the right a little to clear this possible situation.
Following the fold rapid is a nice little sluice against the left bank and then you reach the last rapid above the hard section. This rapid is a fun and narrow slide that drops around 20 feet. The hole at the bottom is very powerful and its best to melt it and come up stroking.
Right below this sticky hole is Minigizer, the first of many gigantic rapids. There are two options, the men's tees and the ladies tees. The mens is to just run the whole rapid from the top, dropping down a steep slide into a wall. At the bottom of this first pitch the wall juts out creating an overhead fold. Do what you have to do to stay upright here, because the river then races down a sluiceway for about 50 yards before dumping into a big pool with a boiling pocket. This rapid drops around 40 feet.
Below Minigizer is the portage above energizer. There are ways to go at river level if one is planning on running energizer below. If you are you already know how or have someone with you who does. For everyone else, climb up to the tree line on river left and once in, turn downstream, following a faint portage trail. To run Energizer, after hitting the first little stream, turn back to the river and slide down to the top of energizer. To portage the whole thing keep going for 10 minutes and after going down to river level via a ditch, turn back to the right to a sandy bottom and back upstream for a view of Energizer. The main deal with Energizer is to not hit the many promontories that stick out from the river right wall. Many feel this rapids is quite out of control so be ready for anything.
Next is the seal launch portage, which necessitates a fun and reasonable seal launch down the bedrock on the left side of the river.
Below the seal launch portage the river goes down a boily boulder garden and then turns to the right and goes through a sharp and crappy boulder series with a small and shallow slide at the bottom.
Below here is a straightaway of flatwater with granitic rock wall on the right. At the end of this straightaway is the top of Big Mank, which is usually walked. Though it is hard to see, there are sieves and wood in the rapid. Get out at the lip on the right and then slide back into the meat of Big Mank. Get right as you can and fight the inevitable slide into a midstream ridge of rock. After gaining control be ready for the launch over a big 5 foot pourover that quickly sends you towards a very ugly pin rock with a big boil on it. The usual line is to the left of this boulder with speed and strong intent. The bedrock finish to this series is manky and unpleasant. The whole rapid can be walked easily on the right.
Right after Big Mank is Feeding Trough, a particularly tricky groove rapid with little room to roll in the event of flipping. Don't mess up. The portage is easy and best done on the ridge of rock in the center of the river.
Right below feeding trough is a 3 foot slide and then a ledge that currently has wood all in it. The portage is on the left.
Next is a 20 foot slide that has a bad landing everywhere but right of center. Angle a little sideways if you are not sure where the promontory of rock protruding out from the left ends. Its common to make contact here.
After this steep angle slide comes 40/40, one of the nastiest rapids anywhere and certainly the gnarliest that gets run on the river. Nuff said on this, portage on the left.
Right after 40/40 the river turns left after going down a short slide and heads right into Landbridge, the steepest drop on the river. The first part must be portaged on the left up and over a 15 foot step and back down to the bedrock midway down the cascade. To portage the whole thing keep on the trail longer and then be carefull sliding back down to river level. This is the sketchiest portage on the run so take your time. To run it, head out to just below the landbridge rock formation and slide in for the last 50 feet of drop. Or if you have balls of steel you can seal launch off of the landbridge adding another 20 feet to an already scary looking drop.
Two class 3 ledges below Landbridge is Wintergreen Falls, the giant hair raising finale to the biggest drop run in the east coast. Wintergreen Falls drops 30 feet of steep blazing bedrock onto a dome that then races at breakneck speed off another 40 foot slide. The line is obvious yet complications occur often on the second tier where the bedrock is chaotic and produce ejections and other scary experiences. The portage is on the right and aint so bad. Slide the last 20 feet off the rock ridge on the right and admire the biggest drop around from below in the big pool. From herethe paddle out is under 2 miles of boulder piles. Watch out for a bad rapid in the middle that sneaks up on you. It has a bad sieve and hole and there are often trees in this area.
When you reach a gravel road that crosses the river and Bearwallow Creek comes in on the right, get out on the left and get your gear in order for the 3.5 mile hike out to Frozen Creek Access parking lot.
Registering before hand by filling out a form at the lot is recommended as well as notifying Gorges State Park personel that you will be in the gorge boating.
Chris Young says:
"Hey Bradley, I noticed on the awa website it rated the toxaway gorge, ie below the falls like in southern fried, class IV-V. Having done it once about ten years ago and then again about two weeks ago I would suggest you change the rating to V+. It is more commiting than the raven fork in a number of ways and with people discussing it recently, I would hate to see someone get in way over there heads. Just a suggestion." Dec. 30, 2002.
More from Chris:
"The times it has been run recently, which is two of which I was on one trip, we took of at the road and the hike out is around 3.5 miles. Years ago I paddled to the lake and there is a guy who will pick you up for $$$. The toxaway has several sketchy portages and a few rapids that would be hard to portage, most notably wintergreen falls. It is a drop/slide that would make stairway on bear or mike tyson on raven fork seem a little small but the portage looks worse. People will probably get a better idea of what it is like on an upcoming issue of LVM, there are several drops for sure that were run which weren't on Southern Fried Creeking."
From Leland Davis:
"Using my topo software, I get that the run is 3.69 miles from the base
of the falls to Auger Hole Road. Drops by mile are 291, 596, 245, and
128 feet of drop in the last .69 miles. The steepest mile peaks out at
632 feet. Unlike past parties, Dinver and I easily portaged wintergreen
falls on river right. No big deal. It's much easier than a lot of the
other portages - of which there are plenty."
Toxaway was run a number of times over the winter of 2002-2003. The parties were using the river left trail at the lake as a takeout. This involves a 4 mile carry out, with a major elevation gain. Eat your wheaties.
In Feb. 2003 there have been some issues with Park Rangers and local Sheriffs at the put-in. Parking is extremely limited, almost non existent at the put-in. Groups have been turned away by law enforcement for trespassing.
Be aware that the land on river right at the put-in is private and VERY exclusive. Its been advised to hike in on the steeper river left side, and to avoid walking thru the back yards of the condos.
Hey i live below the condo's at the bottom of the falls and slide down them and go jump off some all summer but if anybody needs parking feel free to head down there's plenty of room. A good spot to get down there is go down behind the restraunt October's End and just keep heading downhill past the condo's and where it turns gravel and I'm the last house down there. If anybody has any questions about the river i'll help if I can.
Kevin says this regarding levels:
Date: Sep 08 2006, 14:12 GMT
In my humble opinion I would say -5 should be min. IF you are bored and just want to see it check it out. But at -6 it would be almost impossible to not use you hands on the rapids to push yourself over things. The very first rapid that you can see from the road we dried out on halfway down, so yea -5 min for us. We actually said we won't go back unless its at -4.
Sat April 2: Was low and snowing, we talked with Ranger who said he will propose a permit system that would be good for 6 mo or a year at a time. Said it was illegal to put-on, but he won't ticket because river left is not signed - yet. N.C. State Parks owns that land now courtesy of a donation by unnamed conservation organization. They will also look into habitat studies for rare salamanders, plants etc. to guard against conflict with boaters and reproduction cycles. Bottom line was, be discreet and let rangers know you'll be in there. Seems they have no "policy" on boating Toxaway, and Raleigh has to define one. Ranger office is a short distance on 64 towards Cashiers on right (Gorges St.Park).
Southeast creeking history made today on Toxaway... New
Date: Mar 29 2005, 5:03 GMT
Well, today was definately one for the ages. Tonnes of rain last night put the Toxaway at an upper medium level today at the putin, and a pretty high level after some tribs dumped in downstream. The general mentality was that it would be too high, and we were going to head to Silver Run Falls on the Whitewater instead, but we got to the bridge and found a perfect, choice level on the Toxaway. We were late putting on, getting on the river about 3:00, but his highness Pat Keller decided to run the sickest rapid I've ever seen done, ever. Video or in person.
For those familiar with the river, you know that Toxaway Falls is an absolutely gigantic(like 120 ft total) drop, and is riddled with potholes at the bottom that would mean certain death. This drop has been passed by without regret by the world's best paddlers. We had one camera, my beater one-chip JVC, but Pat was feeling good so I got set up to film and do what I could do for him in case. He got to the seal launch at the top, and a cop runs up on the road and starts yelling at him... "you're gonna die, don't run it!" Pat's like no I'm good man, and pushes off, the cop running to call the ambulance. The only possible line for the drop would be to boof a 20 footer, land in a hole, and drive all the way to the left with tonnes of speed to dry out and miss the potholes on the right and a huge backbreaking ledge on the left. About a 6 foot wide line off of 100 feet of near vertical granite with a burly rapid at the lip. He peeled out and immediately was pushed into the centre of the river and flew off the twenty-footer charging left. I don't think I've ever been so scared filming someone, but he made the line back to the very left, and rolled off of the top. After disconnecting and bouncing twice on the way down, he hit the kicker at the bottom at 200 million miles per hour and flew almost all the way across the pool, landing sideways. Disgusting!
From there, we got moving down the river at like 3:25, a bit late for a non-daylight savings run, but were able to make it to the trail in about three hours, filming every big drop. What a run!
P.S.- To anyone paddling the Toxaway in the future, the cops caught us at the take out, and although they didn't fine us today, they said that there is a relicensing going on for Gorges State Park, and they will enforce a 125$ fine for running the river. That really sucks, but the ranger said that we can voice our concerns, and hopefully prove that there is enough interest in the river to keep it open. I'll post more about that in the future because it is an incredible river, and I want us to be able to paddle it legally.
The Toxaway is the BOMB. Is Wintergreen Falls the highest drop in the East? New
Date: May 15 2004, 19:59 GMT
First time down the Toxaway yesterday. Thanks for the show down Ted. The level was at the bottom of the 0 line. Those drops in there are huge and It's the most impressive river I've done in the East, but no one should be in there unless they are rock solid because you could get f**ked up bad with a terrible hike out. We were lucky yesterday. One of our party pitoned in the slot-slide above Energizer and could hardly walk for a while and others had to portage his boat. Then at Wintergreen he hit the left wall near the bottom, barrel rolled the last 30+ verticle feet. He was ejected and landed on his butt on the rocks at the bottom. After another mile of drops we got to the hike out road where he sucked it up and showed what a hardman he was as he hiked the 3 miles up hill out of the canyon in the dark with a sprained ankle, badly busted butt, while carrying his boat and all his gear.
First run by Keith Backlund and ? in 1978 from below the big falls down. The run took over 3 days and involved multiple portages. Needless to say, they were boating the gorge in 13 foot long boats.
Wayne Gentry featured this one in his classic steep creeking video "Southern Fried Creeking". There are supposedly two trails that come into the creek from river left. One a mile above the lake, and another one where the creek hits the lake. There are also rumors of an ATV trail that goes down to the river.
The SE gaugemaster put up another bomb proof gauge on the Toxaway. Located on the upstream river right side of the Hwy 64 bridge, this gauge is built to last. Look for levels of -6 for a bare minimum, while zero will be on the high side.
The run is halfway between the Cullasaja and the French Broad at Rosman. Those will be good indicators on how much rain the drainage has gotten. Look for the Cullasaja to be over 5 feet, and Rosman to be over 1000 cfs.
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.
Jeramy Nash Seal Launching into Landbridge
Scouting the top of Landbridge
portage above energizer
20 foot slide
Aerial View of Toxaway Slides
Energizer - Bottom
Energizer - Top View
Wintergreen Falls from Below
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.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!