Wet and Wild Fun in the Tuckaseegee River Gorge

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” -Norman Maclean

It seems as though many students here at WCU seek different forms of freedom and adventure, yet many of them haven’t yet realized how much freedom and adventure a whitewater river can bring to them. Right here in WCU’s domain is the lingering Tuckaseegee River, an instant classic for freedom riders and gratis spirits. The Tuckaseegee River has been known for its rich farmland scenery, Cherokee burial mounds, and the train wreck remains from the movie The Fugitive starring Harrison Ford. These are only a few things that the river brings to freedom seekers. The state record brown trout was caught in the “Tuck,” so you’ll most likely see fisherman along the banks as well as in the shallower areas of the river for fly fishing. Recreational class 1 and 2 whitewater trips depart from Doggie Park, which is the public “put in,” in Dillsboro and end at the ‘take out,” at Barkers Creek Bridge where you can find bathrooms and changing rooms at Tuckaseegee Outfitters. The trip is approximately 5 miles long and can last anywhere from 2 to 3 hours. James Jackson, owner and founder of Tuckaseegee Outfitters (the original outfitter on the “Tuck”) has 33 years of experience in guiding and working on every single river in the Southeastern US, nationally, as well as many international whitewater rivers. The Tuckaseegee River also offers the warmest water that a Southeastern river can with its average temperature of 60 degrees, compared to the Nantahala with its average of 40 degrees. The crafts being offered are inflatable rafts, inflatable two person kayaks, inflatable solo kayaks as well as reliable tubing. James Jackson started floating down the lower gorge first in 1974 in tubes to unwind with his friends after a long day of class. The grand opening of Tuckaseegee Outfitters back in 1988 initiated a whole new era of recreational river trips that enticed inexperience families as well as some of the most experienced kayakers and canoe paddlers from the area. The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad already brought in a good number of tourists, many of which were families who had little or no experience on whitewater rivers. The railroad just so happened to navigate along the scenic Tuckaseegee which attracted more interest in the eco-friendly recreation of whitewater crafts. As part of the FERK (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) for regimenting agreement, Duke Energy agreed to provide water free of charge during the prime recreational summer season. The Nantahala Relicensing: Recreational In stream Flow Study which can be found on Nantahala Power.com shows how they determined the amount of water necessary to provide acceptable and optimal recreation experience for both boaters and anglers of various experience levels. The flow studies for the Tuckaseegee River were done in the Spring of 2001 and the benefits provided Duke energy with the best ways to utilize our water resources and keep the initial environment unharmed. On Mondays there is no scheduled release from Duke Energy, thus making it a great day of the week to visit the section for fishing no matter what your angling experience might be, there’s plenty of room for everyone. The no-release Monday was negotiated by Trout Unlimited and is a wonderful day to try your luck in catching some of the largest speckled brown trout as well as rainbow trout. Don’t forget to purchase a fishing license as well as follow all of the state fishing laws for the Lower Gorge. Recreational angling as well as rafting, kayaking, canoeing and tubing are possible on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, as the West Fork, which comes from Bear, Wolf and Cedar Cliff Lakes, is released. The West Fork release acts as a balance of water which can allow fun for both angling as well as paddling. On Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, the East Fork water is released via Glenville Lake. The East Fork release offers more water which is provided for the primary paddling season. These are great days to float down the river via any type of vessel one might prefer and enjoy the entry level class 1 and 2 rapids as well as the stunning Smoky Mountain backdrops and resonance of the historic river. Don’t hesitate when it comes to seeking out adventure when it’s right under your feet. Gather a few friends together and come take a river trip that can provide a lasting upbeat memory you can share for the rest of your life.

To get this years water level* calendar or to receive any additional information about river adventures on the Tuckaseegee River contact Mark Brown via email at Markebrown@nc.rr.com, call Tuckaseegee Outfitters at 1-888-593-5050 or locally at 1-828-586-5050 or visit www.RaftNC.com.