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Difficulty I-II
Length 3.5 Miles
Flow Range 3.90 - 10.00 FT
Flow Rate as of: 10 years ago 2.91 [FT] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 02/11/2006 9:18 am

River Description

This section is mostly flatwater with occasional Class I-II rapids. It is a great teaching section for first time paddlers. It ends with a bigger II-II+ rapid with huge recovery pools and a big beach on river left. It's a great spot to teach ferrying, peelouts and eddy turns, though it is also the most polluted spot on the river that I have seen.

See also: Other sections of the Cullasaja:
0. Above the lakes (Class IV-V+)
1. Upper (Lake Sequoyah to below Cosmic Crunch) (Class )
2. Middle (Below Cosmic Crunch to Above Cullasaja Falls) (Class IV(V+))
3. Lower - Base of Cullasaja Falls to Peeks Creek Bridge (Class IV-V(V+))
4. Peeks Creek Rd (NC-1678) to Peaceful Cove Rd (NC-1677) (Class II(III))

Rapid Descriptions


Gage Descriptions

The USGS gage is on Turtle Pond Rd (NC-1620) near US-64 way upstream from this section. 3.9 is probably a minimum, but I have run it at 3.78 (real scrapy). I think there is not visual at the gage site, making it accessible only via the internet.

There is a gage painted on the Peeks Creek bridge as well; I would guess that 1" above 0 is a good level. 0 is about 3.7 on the USGS gage.

There is also an old USGS gage that no longer is functional, but still has a visual gage on it, just upstream of the second US-64 bridge as you travel downstream. It is off of the Sugar Fork Road.

The Cullasaja has a pretty good watershed and since Highlands (in the headwaters) gets over 80" of rain a year, this run often gets pretty high.

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



article main photo

A Close Look at Cheoah River Fatalities

Charlie Walbridge

The recent death of Chris Clark at Python Rapid on North Carolina's Cheoah River is the third at this site in the last six years. In each case, the person who died was an expert paddler and their paddling partners did not see exactly what happened. Let's take a close look at the Cheoah below Bear Creek Falls and develop strategies for future runs. The river here is very fast and continuous. After a fast lead-in (Chaos), the river drops over Bear Creek Falls, a 12' drop. Below, most of the flow pushes toward the river right channel (Python). Ferrying over to the easier river left channel (the West Prong) requires careful boat control. Python itself contains several nasty holes and sieves, with a bad hole blocked by a boulder at the bottom. There is a good route through it, but paddlers need to plan their route carefully. Scouting is a good idea for first timers, although catching eddies and getting out is not  going to be easy. Groups need to stay together.. The rapid is tough enough that you can't watch your buddy all the time, but you can be ready to help if needed. Click through for links to the accident reports, photos, and comments from expert Cheoah River paddlers. (Photo above by Boyd Ruppelt)


Paul Meinersmann


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1194029 02/11/06 Paul Meinersmann n/a