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Difficulty I-III+
Length 0.25 Miles
Flow Range 650 - 4000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 529 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 05/26/2014 7:35 pm

River Description

Park and Play spot.

Falls Dam is located in north Raleigh and release from the dam is controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. COE will release water when Falls Lake level is above 251.5 ft. The release flow depends on the amount of extra water in the lake and projected future rain events, and can be anywhere between 150 cfs and 6000 cfs. The playing at dam various depending on the flow.

700 - 1000 cfs (Upper Area): immediately below the dam is a good park & play spot. Good for low angle cartwheels on the river right hole, and flat spin in the center wave. This level is great for novice and intermediate paddlers. Nothing worth going below the highway bridge playboating wise.

700 - 2000 cfs (Lower Area): Good eddy lines and currents below the bridge on river right channel for beginners to learn ferries and peel outs.

2000 cfs (Upper Area): The center wave become super retentive, effortless spins and blunts. A new wave forms on the river left at the very top that's good for flatspins. At this level, the upper playing area is for advanced paddlers that have bombproof rolls. A swim could easily end in the trees/bushes directly downstream.

2000 cfs (Lower Area): A couple hundred yards downstream below the highway bridge on the river right channel are three ledges that are good for beginner/intermediate paddlers, side surfing and 360?s oppoturnities abound. The river left channel below the bridge has some catch on the fly 360 holes.

3000 - 4000 cfs (Upper Area): the river left hole becomes big and extremely retentive. Multiple wathunk moves can be performed in a single ride. It is shallow so cartwheels in a longer boat is not possible. It's just about impossible to ferry across to the center wave at this level. The only other way to get on the center wave is to seal launch off the big rock on river right and catch the wave on the fly. It's very fast, but with a flat trough, and the peak breaks at time. Catching the center wave requires good timing to catch it as it breaks. Once on the wave, flat spins are effortless and big blunts are possible.

Seal launching into the top hole on river right or trying to surf across from the river left eddy at these levels is not recommended.  This video shows what could happen when attempting those heroic moves.   

3000 - 4000 cfs (Lower Area): On the river right just above the highway bridge, a steep wave forms under some tree branches (aka tree wave) that's fun for intermediate paddlers to learn dynamic carving techniques but it's a bear to ferry onto. Toward the center of river just above the bridge is a fun little wave (AKA girly wave).  Below the little toward the river left channel is a nice little spinning hole from which you can attain back to the little wave.  Below the bridge on river right, the first ledge offers side surfing, 360's, and cartwheels. The third ledge forms a little wave that's good for practice front/back surfing for paddlers of all levels. It is possible to attain from the bridge all the way back to the top wave through the river left side.  


To get there. From Raleigh, take I-540 to Falls of Neuse Rd. Exit. Drive north on Falls of Neuse Rd 3.4 miles. Turn left at the last traffic light before the bridge over Neuse River onto the old Falls of Neuse Rd.  Take a left just before the new bridge to the parking area above the put in.  Walk down the hill to put-in. There is a rest room there provided by the COE. Please stay away from fishermen that crowd the bank on the weekends. There is a new information kiosk that COE built for paddlers in 2005.

Rapid Descriptions


default user thumbnail
8 years ago

The location of the proposed park already has some nice features but lacks any type of agreement regarding release levels. 1600 cfs on weekends or evenings would work. Water conservation first.... but when possible, the release levels and timing need to be improved if the "falls" is to be considered a recreational resource for the region. The weeks-long release of 304 cfs shows that there has been ample water available to allow for scheduled, recreational releases. Why are they not doing this?

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Larry Ausley
12 years ago

A committee has been formed to push forward plans to construct a whitewater park below Falls Dam. Info on the project and committee can be found at The committee thanks AW for their support of this park project.

Gage Descriptions

COE has a number that will give the current water temp and flow rate at Falls Dam. It's updated at 8am each day or whenever there is a discharge change. If they've confidence that a particular discharge will continue for a period of time (2-3 days e.g), they will add that to the phone message.

919-846-9332 press 1

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




Jim Wei


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1202072 05/09/13 Jim Wei
1193658 04/23/07 Jim Wei n/a
1203408 05/24/14 Jim Wei Updated play features
1203413 05/26/14 Jim Wei Add link to video.