The first-ever scheduled recreational whitewater releases on the upper Nantahala River — scheduled for Sept. 29-30 — will offer advanced and expert paddlers the opportunity to experience Class IV and V rapids in two separate runs.
The uppermost section — known locally as the Cascades — will let advanced and expert paddlers navigate a relatively short Class IV/V descent over numerous waterfalls and slides. The highly technical river run is not suitable for those without the prerequisite skills and equipment.
The section from the base of the Cascades to the powerhouse is generally referred to as the Upper Nantahala and offers intermediate to advanced paddlers a longer Class III/IV descent.
The releases were negotiated to mitigate the recreational impacts of flow reductions associated with Duke Energy’s operation of the powerhouse on the Nantahala and other rivers in the region.
Beginning in 2013 there will be eight annual release days on the Upper Nantahala: one weekend in late April, four summer evenings, and one late September weekend.
Parking, access to be improved
The new whitewater releases on the Upper Nantahala will also lead to new parking and river access areas along the upper reach of the Nantahala.
Duke will put in six parking and access areas to accommodate paddlers on the Upper Nanty. They will be built on U.S. Forest Service land. Public comments on the parking and access areas are being accepted by the forest service.
For this first weekend of releases, however, the forest service has designated several pull-offs for boat loading and unloading only, and the Nantahala Outdoor Center and Endless River Adventures will provide shuttles.