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Nolichucky Gorge - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip

Report Type: Day Trip Report
Trip Dates: Sept. 2002
Nearest City: Erwin, TN
Difficulty: Difficult
Submitted by: Scott and Russell


My brother-n-law and I were always wondering what the Nolichucky Gorge was like, and we found out. USA raft and Cherokee Adventures runs the rapids when the water is up, but right now the water is low. I don't know what the river is like when it is up but it is very dangerous at low levels. There were a lot of areas where we were not able to see because of the huge rocks so we had to stop and scout way ahead. There were several areas where we had to pull our kayaks over the rocks. I would not advise a trip this time of the year down the gorge. It was a 9-mile ride that took us around an hour a mile because of the scouting we had to do. When water levels are up, I've heard it is less than a 2hour ride. May, June and July are the better months to try this part of the river where the rapids are class III and class IV. It is very isolated as the only thing that will link you to civilization is a railroad track that runs beside the river. The river is best at 500-2500 cfm and right now it is at 125 cfm. I would advise that no one should run the river at this level. It is dangerous and you have to work so hard at scouting and pulling your kayak that it takes the fun out of it.


There is restrooms and change rooms at both locations, there are several hotels and restaurants in Erwin and Johnson City


There is a $2 parking fee at the picnic area where you can take out.


It is in Northeast Tn. going towards Ashville North Carolina on interstate 81 which turns into 19 and 23. Go past Johnson City about 15 miles. You can take exit 15 and follow the signs for the campground which is only about 1 mile off the interstate for the takeout. You can exit on exit 19 and take a right at the red light. Go to the next red light and take a left.(rock creek road) Follow that road into N.C. (9 miles) Look for the railroad track on the right after you come off the mountain. When you see it, turn right (sign there) for a parking area to put in. Popular N.C. is the community

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