The hurricane related floods of 2004 and 2005 significantly changed the gauge! On Sept 4, 2004 Linville peaked at 42,400 cfs. This flood made for significant changes in the streambed.
Here is a correlation with the old gauge levels. Preflood 1.5' is now abut 1.65' The preflood 2.0' (the point where the run starts to get pushy...and many paddlers go elsewhere) is now about 2.2'. These are still appoximations until more runs at more levels are made. At the minimal level, the last few miles of flatwater is very shallow and tedious. Many boaters recommend that the Conley Cove to the Lake stretch (Lower Linville) is much more enjoyable if the level is at least 2.05' (This is comparable to the old 1.7-1.8').
The gauge for the Linville River is located on river right, at the takeout just upstream of the Hwy 126 bridge across the river.
Prior to the 2004 Hurricane season, the Linville gauge was stable for a number of years. However, this powerful storm system caused massive flooding and changes to the gauge and rapids. Since the big flood event, several smaller settling events have occurred in the river, which in turn have been affecting the streambed shape at the gauge location. The new flow to stage correlation the USGS conducted after the record high flows has already become inaccurate again. Here is a breakdown of runnable levels:
1.75 -1.9 feet - enough water to get down, but a few mandatory hits and pinny rapids.
1.9 - 2.1 feet - the low end of this range is a decent low level and the upper end is getting well into the medium-low range. Some may find anything above 2.1 to not be ideal for first time trips.
2.1 - 2.3 - In the lower end of this range the river is at a nice medium level and at the upper end, the run enters the medium-high classification. If continuing on the lower to the lake, or running the lower by itself, 2.2 is a good minimum to do this. The river is much less channelized on the lower, hence the higher minimum.
2.3-2.5 - This flow range is high. It is a doable level but the holes are big and the rapids start pushing into each other.
2.5 and up is high water Linville and the run becomes serious class 5-5+ only to be tried by the most competent teams of advanced boaters. At these levels the Linville Gorge could easily be considered the hardest run anywhere to be found in the southeast.
Keep in mind that the gauge is located at the takeout, so it is reading what the water was doing at the Falls around 6-10 hours earlier. If the water table is not charged and the rivers have been dry lately the run will feel lower than the reading. But with a good base flow and frequent rains, this run has sufficient flows often for even weeks to months at a time. There are many occasions where Linville is the only class 5 running in the area. The watershed measures in at 45 square miles, and its flat up top. These characteristics create a river environment that supports frequent boatability during rainy seasons/events.
|LINVILLE RIVER NEAR NEBO, NC|
|usgs-02138500||1.70 - 2.70 ft||V||01h05m||~ 2 ft (running)|
Reports give the public a chance to report on river conditions throughout the country as well as log the history of a river.