(Poplar to Campground)
||Call the TVA at 800-238-2264 or click
Streamflows or here: Nolichucky
at Embreeville. The gauge is well downstream of the run.
I'm collecting the information needed to create an online virtual
gauge keyed to the rafters' gauge painted on the piling of the
railroad bridge you'll pass under as you drive up Jones Branch Road.
Please record the date, time, visual gauge reading, and your
subjective evaluation of the level of your run (low, medium, high,
etc.) every time you pass this gauge. Then email me your
Report. In addition to the benefit of having a more useful
online gauge, I'll enter you in a raffle for valuable prizes.
Click here to learn more about The River
Gauges Project. Thanks!
Over 2,500 cfs
||Great cruising river with lots of
playspots, especially in the first mile. Relatively high
volume for the East, especially in the Spring. Very playable
||Bottom of a deep, very scenic, heavily
|Distance from Downtown
||50 minutes to take out, 80
minutes to put in
||All year (but levels are best in the
||Toe (II) and Cane (II) rivers upstream
(the Toe and the Cane merge to form the Nolichucky); several
sections running from road crossing to road crossing downstream from
the Gorge (one of these sections contains Big Rock, a popular park
and play hole).
||USFS Poplar Boat Launch near Poplar, NC
||Nolichucky Gorge Campground
|Directions from Asheville
||Head north out of Asheville on 19/23.
Take Exit 12 twelve miles into Tennessee (note that 19/23 becomes
I-181 at the state line). Turn right at the bottom of the
ramp, then left at the "T" intersection you hit
almost immediately. Just after the crest of a hill 2.4
miles from the "T" intersection you'll come to Chestoa
Road. Turn right onto it and follow it one mile to the bridge
over the Nolichucky. Cross the bridge and turn right onto
Jones Branch Road. Most take out at the Nolichucky Gorge
Campground 1.1 miles up Jones Branch Road. Another alternative
is to take out at the USFS's Chestoa site 0.2 miles up Jones Branch
Road. You'll have to pay to park either place.
||30 minutes each way. This shuttle is
a classic. In addition to being long (see information on hiring
a shuttle driver below), you're almost going to feel like you're
driving through folks' back yards. Here goes. Return 1.1
miles to the point you turned onto Jones Branch Road. Turn
right onto Chestoa Pike. Follow it 2.1 miles, then merge onto
the Jackson Love Highway (a fancy name for a modest street). A
couple blocks and 0.3 miles later you'll see Mohawk Drive angling
off to your right. Turn onto Mohawk Drive and follow it 2.3
miles. This is more complicated than it sounds. Set your
odometer to 0. Bend to the left 0.1 miles past your turn from
Jackson Love Highway to stay on Mohawk Drive. You'll soon pass
a retirement home built on the spot old-timers (i.e., people
paddling before 2001) will remember a drive-in movie lot and screen
once stood. 0.3 miles after turning onto Mohawk Drive you'll
come to round-about, with a hospital on the left and a series of
schools on the right. Follow the "stay right" sign
and continue on past the round-about and the schools. 1.5
miles after turning onto Mohawk Drive you'll come to a "Y"
in the road. Angle to the right. 0.8 miles later you'll
come to the end of your Mohawk Drive sojourn -- Mohawk continues
straight but it is obvious that most of the traffic bends to the
left onto East Erwin Road. Take the bend and follow it to the
"T" intersection with Rock Creek Road. Turn right
onto Rock Creek Road. Note the stone building; this is a
good landmark for your return trip. The most complicated part
of the shuttle is over; all you have to do now is take Rock
Springs Road 9 miles up and over the mountain. At the North
Carolina line it will become NC 197. At the bottom of the
mountain (and after passing through the small hamlet of Poplar), NC
197 will bend sharply to the left to avoid running into the railroad
tracks and the river. Turn right at this bend onto the paved
road leading to the USFS's Poplar Boat Launch.
|Other access points:
||None. Once in the Gorge, the only
way out is by water or by foot alongside the railroad track.
||Many visiting boaters camp at the
Nolichucky Gorge Campground at the take-out. Includes showers
and running water. Carefully count the number of campers and
persons taking out with the campers and make sure that all have
paid, either to camp (which includes the right to take out) or to
take out. Friction has occurred -- and campers ordered to
vacate their campsites -- when the camp manager has suspected that
all fees have not been paid.
21, 19, 24, 42, 51, 37, 29, 23, 23 fpm over last .11 miles
||57 fpm (over 0.7 miles)
||Maximum half mile:
Whitewater's Nolichucky Gorge Page; GORP's
Nolichucky Gorge Page
||Bob and David Benner's Carolina
Whitewater: A Canoeist's Guide to the Western Carolinas
Nolichucky Photo Archive
||Shuttle drivers can be hired both at the
rafting outposts at the take out and at the hikers' hostel you'll
pass just before driving across the bridge over the river and then
turning onto Jones Branch Road on the way to the take out.
Expect to pay $15-20. Hiring a driver saves a long shuttle
(about an hour round trip).
Runnable down to 500 cfs or so but 2,000 cfs is probably pretty
close to what most folks would consider ideal. Some rapids
begin to wash as the Nolichucky rises, but most get harder. At
6,000 cfs I've snuck most of Quarter Mile. The best playspots
are in the first mile, with Jaws -- a friendly hole formed by a
ledge stretching across most of the river -- the most popular.
Many boaters play their way down to Jaws and then walk back out on
the railroad tracks. One of the most exciting portions of such
a trip is the walk across the trestle over the river at the top of
the first major rapid. Paddlers have been caught by trains
while crossing the trestle. Fortunately there is room to get
off the tracks, but having to squeeze between the train and the side
of the trestle is not for the faint of heart.