Watauga, North Carolina, US
|Usual Difficulty||II-IV (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||75 fpm|
|Max Gradient||135 fpm|
|WATAUGA RIVER NEAR SUGAR GROVE, NC|
|usgs-03479000||200 - unknown cfs||II-IV||00h59m||2750 cfs (running)|
This is better understood as a run with two distinct personalities. The upper section, above the dam, is an easy class II drop-pool with a II+ ledge at the end. This is a favorite, close run of Boone boaters. Below the dam, are 3/4 mile of continuous, rocky class IV (V at higher water). This drops 125 feet in the first 0.4 mi. (equal to about 300 ft./mile) then levels out for the last 0.3 mile to rocky class II-III. Unfortunately, some ASU students do not give this run the respect it deserves despite the numerous shallow drops and plentiful undercuts. (I got the honor of surviving a 45º pin here in 2000, this is not a run for a boat longer than 9 feet. -BLP)
There are also a few good ledges sprinkled among the riffled run much farther up between Foscoe and Seven Devils. If the headwaters has enough water to run it will be a narrow run with numerous low bridges, occassional sweepers, and few catchable eddies. Boone's Fork enters on private property just above the put-in and contributes significant water to the flow.
The latter half of this section is in the NCWRC Delayed Harvest Trout program and is frequented by fishermen in the winter and spring. Please be respectful of other river users, though it's not likely anyone is fishing if there is enough water to run.
***UPDATE SPRING 2016***
Access to this section has now become VERY limited. Private property surrounds both the put-in
and take-out of this section all the way down to the riverbed. It is feasible to ask parking
permission at the Ham Shop Cafe or the Fly Fishing shop at the takeout but parking at the put-in
is virtually inaccesible. Large boulders have been placed by landowners at the roadside pulloffs
along Old Shulls Mill Road (1568). Upstream on Shulls Mill Road (1557), it is possible to park at
Shulls Mill Baptist Church but permission needs to be obtained. Multiple "no
trespassing" and "private property" signs are now posted at the large parking area
on 105 by the dam. If access at either end of this section is granted, please keep a low and
respectful profile while getting on and off the river. The access situation regarding the Red
Roof section is very sensitive and should be treated respectfully.