Cheoah

A word or two on the Cheoah – This is a demanding and intense, very continuous, and only gets more so the further you go almost to the very end.  It is serious whitewater creeking run but with big volumn.  After the pool at the put in rapids go from 3-3+ to 3+ to 4 then it picks up and your in 4 to 4+ and 5 class rapids.  If you get on and are having a bad day or discover your just not up for it, get off, (its only going to get more so the further you go) the road runs along the right bank and there is a shuttle pick up (for a small fee) that can get you and boat to the top or bottom coming along periodically – there is no shame in doing so, in fact good boater will think more of you for doing so than not doing so if you need to – its a intense run – it will be there another day.  Once you pass under the concrete bridge past half way down it really picks up.

Directions:

Put-in:

From East in North Carolina – take I-40 West to exit 27 hyw 74W to the right at the next split in the road take the left onto hyw74W toward Waynesville keep going west on hyw 74 then on toward Bryson City,  past the Bryson City exits,  over the Little Tennessee river at Fontana lake and then at the bottom of a hill take the right turn to Robbinsville on hyw 28N and follow it until you come to hyw 143 to the left – turn left on hyw 143 and drive until hyw 143 intersects with hyw 129 in the center of Robbinsville (T-intersection).  Turn right onto hyw 129 which becomes hyw 129/143 – Tapco Rd. (go to “From Robbinsville” below)

From Ocoee area or Western NC (Murphy/Andrews NC) Take NC 74 going east until you come to “Topton” (where the road reaches its high point just west of decending into the Nathahala Gorge) and turn left onto hyw 129NC to Robbinsville NC.  Follow NC 129 into Robbinsville. (go to “From Robbinsville” below)

From Nathahala – you have two choices (my preferance is #2 below):

  1.  Go east on hwy NC74 to the entrance of the gorge and turn left onto turn to Robbinsville on hyw 28N and follow it until you come to hyw 143 to the left – turn left on hyw 143 and drive until hyw 143 intersects with hyw 129 in the center of Robbinsville (T-intersection).  Turn right onto hyw 129 which becomes hyw 129/143 – Tapco Rd. (go to “From Robbinsville” below)
  2. Or – Go west on hyw NC 74 to “Topton” (where the road reaches its high point coming out of the Nathahala Gorge before decending toward Andrews)  and turn right onto hyw 129NC to Robbinsville NC.  Follow NC 129 into Robbinsville. From Telico Plains Tenn – you can take the Cheorhala Skyway to Robbinsville and pick up NC hwy 129.(go to “From Robbinsville” below)

From the Telico or Telico Plains area you can:

  1.  Take the Cherohala Skyway (senic but very long, steep and winding drive – but beautiful) and pick up NC129 at Robbinsville. (go to “From Robbinsville” below)
  2. Or take Tenn. hyw 68 to hyw 74 at Ducktown and go east on hyw 74 (go to “From Ocoee area or Western NC (Murphy/Andrews NC)” above).

From Robbinsville – Follow NC129 Tapco Rd. until you come to Joanne’s Gas and Grocery (wood frame buiding) on the left side of the road along the river (you can also by your permit “bracelet” at Joanne’s Gas and Grocery –  needed if you going to run the river.  Normal put in’s at or just below here,  just a few hunderd feet down the road on the right is a nice pay parking area (O’Henry’s) with put in across from it for a small fee.  There are normally shuttles avialable for a small fee running up and down during the day.  If your not parking the the pay lot then make sure you are somewhere that is not blocking the road or acess and not on private property.

Take-out:

Continue downstream from the put in area on the hyw 129 Tapco Rd.,  until you come to a bridge across from the Tapco lodge, go over the bridge and continue down hyw 129 though the narrow pass beyond,  just a short ways and you come out of the pass and over another concrete bridge going over Caulderwood lake right below the dam.  Just past the far end of the bridge is a road to the left (hard turn back to the left), take this turn (be careful as you turn off the hyw onto this road – the hyw has a blind turn coming from the other direction – take a good look, turn and get out of the hyw onto the road).  This left turn takes you down to a parking acess area along the river.  Do not park in the road, block people/cars or campsites, you can be ticketed – the road is used for public assess and is patroled).  Down the road is a boat ramp area to exit the river (as short paddle is required across the lake once the Cheoha enters Caulderwood lake).