Hiwassee River (Upper)
|Stretch:||Appalachia Power House to Childers Creek|
|Flows:||2,800 cfs+ (2 generators minimum). You can find the release schedule here|
|Gradient:||24.8 fpm average|
|Put-in:||Appalachia Power House Boat ramp|
|Take-out:||Childers Creek Access|
|Shuttle:||3.9 miles, (10 minutes one-way)|
|Season:||Memorial Day to Labor Day - Dam Release, Natural off rain in Fall and Winter.|
|Featured in A Wet State #154|
Aster’s first day on whitewater! How exciting! 14 months and running class II! In hindsight we probably shouldn’t have put her in her own kayak. Jk jk. We were in a two person IK and Diane just held Aster while I paddled us through the rapids. Joining us on the river were the Paquette and Trembley families. The weather was super warm which was perfect as the water is not the warmest around. But with the warm temperatures, it was a great refreshing temperature.
This run really is a special class II run. The water is clear so you see brightly colored plant life flying by beneath you, you have nicely forested landscape, and for the second half, the road pulls away leaving you in solitude. The only downside I would say are the commercial duckies which of course are massive armadas of people who tend to be on the loud/obnoxious side of things. But hey, they are having fun and will likely view their day as a trip of a lifetime. So I guess it is excusable.
- First Rapid (I+). After a small flat water section at put-in, you get to the first rapid. It is mellow down the right. But it is exciting because for Aster, it was her first rapid ever!
- Thread the Needle (II-). We ran down the left side of some small islands through some small shallow rapids. This then leads to a spot where the river hits and splits around a small island. You can do right or left. If you go left there is a cool little tunnel under the train tracks for the kids to explore.
- Mary Nell Point (II to II+). The next rapid is in my mind the biggest. There are two ledges in this rapid. We ran down leftish through the top one which is a few feet tall and stair-stepped. The second one is 3-4 feet tall and run down the left. Great fun!
- Stair Step Rapid (II). From the overlook on the way to put-in you can see this section of rapids easily downriver. The commercial trips go left and bang their way down. But there is some ok water far right. Plus, just below is a nice beach to take a break at. But, no matter where you go, it is going to feel shallow as this section is just super wide, no way around it.
- Little Rock Island (II). Just below the river splits around a small island. To the left is the main rapid. Just follow the water right of center and you will avoid the tricky little holes that occupy the center. Or, go to the right of the island for the squirt boat spot “Leslie’s” and a nice wave train.
- Funnel (II). The river splits around a very large island, stay left. It then breaks into several small channels separated by several very small islands. We went to the right most one with significant water. It was pretty obvious. The rapid is a nice ramping drop through some waves. It would also make a great spot to practice stern squirting I bet.
- Devil’s Shoals (II). The final rapid is commonly viewed as the biggest, though I personally don’t feel this way. The line is down the left into some splashy waves. Perhaps it is the strong eddy lines on either side of the waves that make this rapid hard for beginners, but for us it felt easier than several of the above steeper rapids.
Take-out: There are several ways to get to the small town of Reliance TN. But for the gist, it is 5.5 miles upstream from where the Hiwassee crosses US-411. If you come from US-411, in Reliance, cross the river on TN-315 and turn right on Childers Creek Rd. In 0.5 miles turn right into the access area. An "alternate" access is downstream a half mile on the other side of the river and is a state run access area with large parking area and bathrooms.
Put-in: From the parking area, turn right back onto Childers Creek Rd. In 0.5 miles turn right. In 0.3 miles turn right onto Powerhouse Rd. This climbs and then drops down to, and follows the river. After 2.9 miles you get to the Powerhouse Boat Ramp. Fee is $3 to park there (as of 2020).
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