This photo needs editing.
Difficulty II-III+
Length 8 Miles
Gauge NANTAHALA RIVER NEAR RAINBOW SPRINGS, NC
Flow Range 400 - 5000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 45 minutes ago 112 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 05/09/2009 10:07 am

River Description


Fires Creek is a narrow steep roadside whitewater run. Even though it has a large watershed, good access, and is near several whitewater outdoor centers, Fires Creek has attracted little local attention.

Unlike other similar creeks Fires has no single spectacular large rapid. However when the gauge reads 400 cfs or more the creek is literally a 6-mile rapid with a western feel. The run is genuinely fun and very constant in character. Fires Creek is narrow and thus there is always a strainer hazard, but the creek was relatively clean in early 2003.

There is a bridge about halfway down the run but boaters can access the stream to put in almost anywhere. Taking out is slightly more difficult but not a real problem, because of the nearby road.

"The two miles above the horse camp from the concrete arch bridge down drop at an average of 200 fpm. Sure didn't feel that steep. Very continuous gradient, no big drops." Brad Roberts, 2003

Clay County AFWS Rain Gauges

 

Try this Google Maps linke to locate or get directions to the take-out.

 

Rapid Descriptions

First of the big drops

Class - III Mile - 1.5
The biggest drops on the upper section are almost a half mile above the horse camp. The photograph is an example of the shallow nature of the upper section of the creek.

Big Drop

Class - III+ Mile - 1.55
The largest series of rapids are less than a half mile above the horse camp. While the first mile is techically more difficult the largest three drops on the river occur here at a tight left bend. These are visable from the road. Brad Roberts is featured in this photograph runnign the second drop in a four drop series.

Bristol Horse Camp

Class - Mile - 2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
A good alternate put in to avoid the first two miles, which are scrapy at times.

Boof Right Slide Left

Class - III Mile - 3.5
Fires Creek picks up significant volume below the horse camp and the drops tend to be easier but larger than the upper section. This photograph of a small ledge is indicative of the river.

Unnamed Creek Falls

Class - III Mile - 7.5
An unnamed side creek flows down into Fires Creek near the takeout on river right. The final drop is a long slide that can easily be carried up and run. Be careful not to skip your boat across the pool.

Comments

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Tom Welander
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8 years ago

I re-read Allen's trip reports after my first run of Fires Ck (March 6th 2011) and couldn't describe it better: http://www.allenpogue.com/NorthCarolina.html It's gorgeous. All the wood around blind corners makes it scary. Otherwise it's a blast. USGS Nantahala had peaked at 1,400cfs a few hours earlier. Fires was dropping gradually, so it may have peaked about the same time. Wonderful, near-bankfull level.

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Kevin Miller
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16 years ago

I agree with the 400 cfs number as the minimum, but I would look for 500+ before running it again. It was "bang/scrape" at 430 cfs, but a raft (Stinger) was able to complete the bottom half of the run with little more difficulty than the hard boaters on the river.

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BradR
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16 years ago

I think 500, or maybe 550 cfs is a better minimum. Another option is to look at the bridge where the turnoff is for fires creek rd. Look for the Center cement bridge piling to be about a foot underwater, or for all the bolts holding the beams to the cement piling to be underwater.

Gage Descriptions

The gauge is on a nearby stream.
Look at the low-water bridge near the bottom of the creek and if water is flowing over the bridge the run is good.
The top two miles are much smaller in width and have a reduced flow. Unless there is really good water consider the horse park put-in.

Permits

NA

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

Alerts

 

News

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Kevin Miller

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1193714 05/09/09 Kevin Miller n/a