Road Prong has the steepest mile of no portage whitewater anywhere in the east coast, and maybe beyond. From the upper putin down to below Dr. Kevorkian just into the lower section, there is a mile at 710 feet with NO portages necessary. That being said, most boaters will portage something, as a few of the drops in here are pretty fringe. If any run in the SE other than Raven Fork or Toxaway make you the least bit nervous, go run the Alum Cave section of Walker Camp Prong on the other side of Mount Mingus, because the Road Prong is truly for the sick. At least on Toxaway and Raven Fork you can decide what to run and what not to, and there is a huge pool at the top and bottom of each rapid. The Road Prong is steeper and has NO pools, and only micro eddys between huge consequential class 5 drops that may or may not be good depending on the ever shifting wood conditions. Not for part-timers.
Hiking in from Indian Gap is a reasonable 1.7 miles of downhill hiking to Greenlight Falls, the first typically run drop. Above here the stream is choked with wood in places and the gradient is relatively flat (250-300 ft/mile). Hiking from the bottom is also a 1.7 mile hike from the Chimney Tops Trailhead to Greenlight Falls, and if you don't feel like running shuttle, or Clingman's Dome Road is closed, this is a better alternative. The hike shouldn't take more than 45 minutes to an hour.
Once puting on, the first drop is the cleanest, easiest, and most carefree. If this one looks questionable at all, don't put on. Greenlight Falls is a super sweet 15-17 foot waterfall that is way too clean for the SE. A romping entrance shoots you off the left side, boofing hard into the pool below. The next 5 drops are the first of a one-two punch of rapids on the upper section. Here you will run a gnarly boulder runout to Greenlight, a 6 foot ledge into a 12 foot driving right falls, right into TBR, a multiclapping 20 foot cascade, and then into some more boulder boogie right into U-turn, a gradientious drop to the left of and back around a raised ledge in the center of the creek. Below here is the entrance to Road Rage, the biggest and scariest drop on the first set. Here the creek machs down a steep entrance of boulders and sluices into a ten foot ledge that is a little unpredictable. The landing has rocks, and while connecting you will immediately encounter a rib that you will either go up and over and down the middle, or get rejected and then go down the big rocking roostertail slide on the right. The whole rapid drops 30 feet, and the entrance adds some. Below here is some techie class 5 boulder work and then a finale at Oncoming Traffic, a sweet 10 foot boof of precies tolerances. This delivers you to the 4th footbridge from the bottom, right above the second set of sickness.
Below the 4th footbridge is the huge set of Fender Bender, Skyline Falls, and Pegleg Falls. These are a step above the upper set, and will scare the daylights out of most. Fender Bender is the most reasonable and relaxing, with a frumpy entrance to a left to center rib slide, boofing 5 feet into a center cauldron that immediately turns downstream to drop off a 18 foot bouncing cascade, with the last 12 feet or so being vert. Below here is a small set of boogie right into the entrance to skyline. The entrance is a bouncing cascade of 12 feet, and can be a little intimidating, considering what lies below. Skyline Falls is a 30 foot falls, with the first 10 feet being an entrance slide, and the last 25 feet being airtime. If you noticed, 10+25 is 35 feet. Well, when you hit the kicker after the first ten feet, you will gain another 5 feet of altitude immediately followed by a stern first landing in the pool below. Below here the creek blazes right into the entrance to PegLeg Falls, a super steep ledge garden that probably drops 30 feet. The top drop is a sticky 8 foot ledge, and the hole is spicy, with log sieves underneath, mandating a perfect run. The run out is another 6-8 foot ledge into another, then another, then a romping turn to the right into the rest of the run above the lower, which is non-stop class 5 boulder jumbles that are steeper than the west prong and fewer eddys. Heads up boat all the way to the lower, and then take a breath of thanks, as the lower notches down to hard class 5, but only 10-15 foot drops instead of 20-30.
The lower section is described in its respective reach.
From Leland, off boatertalk:
Road Prong: 616
book is coming right along....only another month or two till the writing is all done!
Re: Altitude confirmation needed. Attn Bradley LVM New
Date: Mar 08 2004, 14:23 GMT
Road prong is 1100ft (1.9 miles) from putin 1/4 mile above greenlight falls. If you go from here and do west prong all the way down to last take out (belwo in a hurry) that is just about 3000 feet of drop with no portages (unless you want). If you did road prong from third bridge it is .6 miles and about 300-350 feet. upper west prong is 700feet (1.7 miles) from foot bridge to 441 bridge. 441 brige to last take out is 3.3-3.5 miles and alittle over 1100feet. Campbell over is a a mile less.- howard
My butt still hurts from when I hit it at TBR falls a year ago. ouch
this is a SIK run! just kidding.
maybe it'll run this weekend, its going to finally rain. This is how I waste time at work.
Gauge is at takeout 100 yards above West Prong confluence. River left rock right above bridge has notches form zero down. As of 12/23/07, minus 9 inches is solid, minus 7 is probably too high, and minus 11 is a nice med/low level. minus 12 is definitely minimum.
Look for the West Prong to be at least 1.8 feet for Road Prong to run. It drops super quick. Hike up when its high and it will be good. Hike up when its low and by the time you put on, unless its still raining, it will likely be brutally low.
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Video: Skyline & Fender Bender
The Main Drop @ Skyline
The top drop @ Skyline Drive
Main Drop Skyline Drive
Roger @ Fenderbender Drop Reverse Angle
Roger just above Fenderbender
The Drop @ Fenderbender
Leading up to Fenderbender
Just Above Fenderbender Upper Road Prong
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