NOTE:  FREE FLOWS ARE DANGEROUS, FREQUENTLY ISOLATED, AND OFTEN HARD TO SCOUT.  RISING CREEKS ARE DEADLY.  Here is a note from a TVCC member after a paddler’s death on the Tellico Ledges.

“…He had only been paddling for a year. Our group met the ambulance coming down the road and were unaware of what was transpiring upriver. By the time we got to the (Jared’s) Knee it was obvious that the river was outrunning the gage. The last reading we had was 2.5 a very doable level. It was quite clear that the river was much angrier than 2.5 and we would not be putting on.
I don’t care how many wave wheels, enders, hand rolls, double pumps, phoenix monkeys, cartwheels, and loops you can do, reading water and learning to make good decisions takes time. It is painfully obvious to me that he, like many of our newer boaters, was brought along too quickly. Paddling flood is like having a car that will only do 70 MPH. You may get by for a little while, on tame stretches of interstate, (rivers) for a little while. Taking this car on country roads (creeks) is another story. You are going to crash. If you are VERY LUCKY you will lose some gear, get the shit scared out of you, and perhaps spend some quality time in a trauma center but you are going to crash.
In my Humble opinion, with very few exceptions, it takes a lot more than a year of experience to attempt to challenge a creek in flood such as the Tellico…”

See also TVCC member Allen Pogue’s essays on portaging and  “The Rules of Free Flow”. To check guages, see the USGS Guage homepage.


Some access is affected by hunting closures, usually in the Fall for deer and Spring for turkey hunts on public lands.


CARTECAY (GA) Check gauge here. Be aware that access to the Lower Cartecay run—below Blackberry Falls/covered bridge to the take out at the GA Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) reserve — is shut down at certain periods, usually in the Fall,  to allow hunting on DNR land.  The gate will be shut—you may want to check the DNR closure schedule before planning on this longer run.
TOCCOA RIVER (GA/TN)—see American Whitewater (Georgia)/USGS pages for flow data.


CLEAR CREEK (TN)  See American Whitewater/USGS pages for flow data.  Also,

There are multiple sections of varying difficulty—most are remote runs. Also contact call the Ranger Station in Wartburg, TN: Obed Wild and Scenic River P.O. Box 429, Wartburg, TN , 37887.  Phone for Visitor Information (423) 346-6294
TELLICO RIVER (TN) & also LITTLE RIVER, TN, Smokies: (900) 288- 8732. Note these calls cost $2 to help fund the gauge network.


CONASAUGA RIVER (GA).  Go to the Tallapoosa Section of the USGS page.
BIG SOUTH FORK (TN) Many sections of varying difficulty. (800) 261-5033.  See the Cumberland River (Big South Fork) in the American Whitewater, Tennessee rivers page.
NOLICHUCKY.  See American Whitewater, Tennessee Rivers.


CHATTOOGA RIVER (GA) (800) 232-7238  There are multiple section on this river, some extremely difficult and quite dangerous. This river holds water for a long time and can often be run when little else is possible.  There are multiple gauges on this river; go to the Savannah River Basin section for the most relevant information on this section.  Also, of course, American Whitewater, Georgia rivers.
LITTLE RIVER (AL)  See American Whitewater, Alabama.  There are several sections.
LOCUST FORK (AL)  same as above.
FRENCH BROAD (NC) Many sections to this long river, with the most paddled probably being the French Broad Section 9.  There is one CLASS IV below the Stackhouse (and long flatwater section called “Windy Flats”) on river right of an island, which can be bypassed by going to the left of the island.  See American Whitewater, NC rivers.  This river holds water for a long time and remains runnable at very low levels.