Robbinsville, North Carolina

Paddle The Cheoah River

Originally added by Rob Giersch

One of North Carolina's best big water runs with a creek like feel

The Cheoah River is a dam controlled section of whitewater that has become one of the "bucket runs" for Western, North Carolina. Located near Robbinsville, NC, the Cheoah is a non-stop class IV+ classic of constant gradient that delivers a Southeastern whitewater experience like no other.

There are a number of spots to put in depending on length of time and section of river you want to run, but the most popular is O'Henry's which is located on Hwy 129 across the highway from the put-in. From here you can run shuttle to the takeout on Cheoah Lake.

Based on years of advocating by American Whitewater and Western, NC Paddlers, the TVA has agreed to annually scheduled releases for recreational use. To date the schedule has been reliable but make sure you check the latest news before heading to the put in.

Many compare the Cheoah to its neighbor the Ocoee, but be conservative in that comparison. While volume of rivers are similar, the Cheaoh contains a great deal of trees and undergrowth that when combined with stickier hydraulics, can make for dangerous swims if a paddler does not have a solid roll.

There are many offset holes and pushy runs along the course of the entire river, but Bear Creek Falls is the major rapid where boaters test their skill and mental fortitude, and spectators/photographers can see the best action. Paddlers can take the middle chute for a giant boof off of Bear Creek Falls proper or run the slide off the right shoot which breaks the falls up into two smaller drops. Either option requires courage.

The lower portion of the Cheaoh runs past Tapoco Lodge where boaters can lodge over the weekend when open, and relax riverside with a beer and watch others run the river.

Plan the day right and you can run 2-3 laps on The Cheoah in a given day.

Release dates can be found here: http://www.endlessriveradventures.com/Cheoah-Release-Dates

Tapoco Lodge reservations can be made here: http://tapocolodge.com/

Read More

Tags

Photography
Rafting
Kayaking
River
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

The Beautiful Cheoh

This run is for advanced paddlers only. It is mostly class IV river. Full of pushy water, big rock boofs, and hidden drops! If you have the skills this river is a non-stop blast. It pretty much runs roadside the whole way so you can easily hop out of you put on and realize it's over your head! I had to do that my first try down. It doesn't release often so when it does it is full of paddlers which adds to the navigational difficulty. For those that don't want to paddle stoping alongside the road at bear creek falls and watching the paddlers is quite fun on its own! Such a beautiful place.

The Cheoah River has firmly established itself as a Southeast whitewater classic.

This is not a beginners run despite being mostly class 3+. The continuous nature of the rapids and growth of sycamore tree saplings in the river bed make this a fun run for experienced class IV paddlers. For non paddlers there are outfitters offering rafting trips down this section. The Dam visible at the end of the run is the one used in the last version of "The Fugitive" It is a scheduled release so check to make sure it's running before going.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

Stay Nearby

Robbinsville, North Carolina

Cheoah Point Campground

Overview Cheoah Point Campground lies on a peninsula of the vast Lake Santeetlah in the hills of western North Carolina. The lake and surrounding landscape provide countless recreational opportunit...

Robbinsville, North Carolina

Rattler Ford Group Campground

Overview Rattler Ford Group Campground sits near the swift-moving Santeetlah Creek in the Nantahala National Forest. Groups of up to 25 guests can enjoy the creek, which is popular for fly fishing...

Cheoah, North Carolina

Swan Cabin

Overview Nestled in a remote area of Nantahala National Forest, this primitive log cabin was built in 1931 by Frank Swan in a different location, then later it was moved to its current location nea...

North River Road

Mcnabb Creek Group

Overview McNabb Creek Group Campground is located on the North River in the Tellico River area. Fishing, swimming, hiking and hunting are popular activities.Recreation The North River offers plenty...

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest Loop

    The beauty of this trail starts at the parking lot. Before you start the trail, you will find a picnic table near the parking lot and go down to the edge of the rolling stream. Its a great spot to hear the stream and take some pictures. If you are...

    2 miles

  • Backpack Slickrock Creek Trail #42

    8:30 a.m. and we’re winding our way down Highway 129 near Robbinsville, NC. The fog is still thick over the Little Tennessee River as we slow down crossing the bridge into Graham County. “I think we missed it,” I say as we continue onward. Within ...

    30 miles 3700 ft gain

  • Hike to Shuckstack Fire Tower

    Your Shuckstack adventure starts at the Fontana Dam outside of Bryson City, NC. As the highest dam East of the Rocky Mountains, it's a sight on its own. This will be your last chance to fill up water bottles and use the restroom so take advantage....

    7 miles 2100 ft gain

  • Hike to Huckleberry Knob

    Huckleberry Knob is the highest point in the Cheoah Ranger District at 5,560 feet, and it offers expansive views of the surrounding Cherokee and Natahala National Forest.The hike is 2.4 miles roundtrip and begins at the parking lot between mile 8 ...

    2.4 miles 397 ft gain