It is rumored that Conasauga Creek was run first by Mike Lewis of USA raft The run is 1.7 miles of whitewater and 1.3 of flatwater, due to a lack of an earlier takeout at this point. From Tellico Plains, go 2.5 miles south on Highway 68. Turn onto Holly Springs Rd., which has a sign for Towee Falls Church. Proceed through this quiet mountain valley for 3 miles, bearing right at a Y, thus not crossing the creek. Continue just under half a mile to a bridge that crosses the stream. Park in the spot on the downstream river right side of the bridge just out of the way of traffic. This is the takeout and the gauge. To the putin, go back to 68 and after turning right, immediately turn right on to FR 341 to Conasauga Falls. 2.5 miles down the road there is a right turn for the Falls Trailhead. One can scout the creek from this trail. To the putin, continue past this turnoff another 2 miles to where the creek is. Putin here. There is limited parking at the putin and takeout. Description: The creek starts right off with a 5 foot ledge best run on the right, though a more interesting line is on the left. The creek is non stop 3-3+ moves and boofs for the next 4/10 mile. The gradient for this stretch averages to 280ft/m There is an undercut half way through this section. The wood is cleaned out for now. A brief respite ensues, followed by an island. Go left, but avoid the log at the end by beaching up on the shallows on the right. Some more bends and isolated class 3 brings the paddler to the takeout eddy for the falls. If you haven't been here before, err on the side of caution. The falls is a 35 foot cascade called Conasauga Falls, and is definitely 5+. It is a drop of LVM type nature. It can be run, but I will not explain it. Below here is a series of slides that is called Chutes and Ladders. There is a 7,12,8,and 15 foot series here, which is overall gradual in nature but still very horizon-lined and intimidating if you haven't scouted. Easy big fun though. After the slides, look around and notice this previously unnoticed beautiful gorge. Appreciate the lack of roads and human impact. It's rare. Next the stream kicks several class 3 rapids and 3-5 foot complex ledges your way all the way to the flats in the valley. At higher levels this run is definitely solid class 4 and only a couple of inches at the gauge will make a big difference in the gorge, due to it's channeling effect. The valley is beautiful and there are two beaver dams, one you run and another that is a walk. The farmers will probably give you some weird looks but they seem friendly. Since this is such a new run please takeout at the county bridge, as this is the only public area to takeout at this point. We don't want access jeopardized for future paddlers.
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We got to the take out and saw 12". Two people we were boating with, both of whom are usually very grounded and trustworthy, told us that 14" was a good low. They had apparently been pulling beta off of this page using their iPhone and I still don't understand how they misinterpreted this beta. None of us had run Conasauga before and we were looking forward to paddling a new creek. During the paddle I remember thinking, "This feels below minimum" .... several times.
I agree with Kirk. 14" should be considered a bare minimum. I don't think I'm ever putting on below 16-18" and I'm no high water snob. We ran Coker at a nice low or medium low level later that day. I strongly recommend that you go there if Conasauga's gauge is below 14"
Otherwise, this was a damn fun run. Can't wait to paddle it when there's actually water.
Tellico at 4 feet and rising is a good indicator that Conasauga is running. It will run for 12 hours after 1.5 inch of rain in Tellico Plains. Will run 24 hrs after 2 inches.
At this rain data website, average Cherokee National Forest near Coker Creek rain totals with Tellico Plains rain totals to get an accurate depiction of the amount of rain that fell.
There is a foot gauge at the takeout. It is intervaled in inches. 14 inches is minimum, and maximum is probably around 24 inches. 10.5 square mile watershed, relatively flat above run. If you cannot fit under the takeout bridge without rolling over, then it is too high. At this level, the run is solid class 5, but fun if you can handle it.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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(RM) Chutes & Ladders
(RM) Chutes & Ladders 2nd Drop
(RM) Put-In Rapid
(RM) This is NOT the take-out
(RM) Boofing Ledge
(RM) First 1/2 mile - Sutton
(RM) First 1/2 Mile - Marshall
(RM) Conasauga Gage
(RM) The Take-Out
(RM) Conasauga Falls
Eddy above Chutes & Ladders
Conasauga Creek Scene
Chutes & Ladders, 2nd Drop
Chutes & Ladders, 1st Drop
Chutes & Ladders
Conasauga Creek Gorge
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