Long-awaited whitewater runs to debut on the upper Tuckasegee
Paddlers are salivating over the first-ever whitewater releases offered on the west fork of the Tuckasegee from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., April 13 and 14.
The upper reaches of the Tuck don’t usually have enough water for whitewater runs except following major rains. Duke Energy is coordinating the special release — along with five others this year — from its hydropower dam at Lake Glenville.
The six-mile stretch is long, narrow, challenging and is recommended for advanced paddlers only.
“Recreational boating releases like this are a unique opportunity for Duke Energy to reinforce local tourism and the economy, promote the beautiful Nantahala region, and raise awareness of the river as an important natural resource,” said John Crutchfield, director of public safety, recreation strategy and planning services for Duke Energy. “Safety is our priority, and we’re working closely with local first responders to help plan a positive experience for everyone.”
A put-in for boaters has been constructed at the base of High Falls below the dam. A one-mile trail was built leading to the put-in.
The new High Falls Trail — and a new fishing trail along the river across from the Glenville powerhouse — can be used by anyone throughout the year.
Limited parking will be available at Lake Glenville along Pine Creek Road. It is a one-mile hike from the trailhead to the boater put-in. Some parking will be available near the takeout.
Paddlers are asked to use designated trails and access areas only. Instructional signage will be installed at the takeout point to direct paddlers off the river.
Duke was required to provide periodic whitewater releases on the upper Tuck and upper Nantahala in exchange for federal permits for its various hydropower dams in the region, along with a suite of other recreation improvements. Some property owners in the area were against the idea, however, fearing an onslaught of paddlers. Emergency responders also questioned the safety aspects.
Additional releases are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 11, June 8, July 6, July 27 and Aug. 10.
Duke Energy will also conduct maintenance work at its powerhouse below Glenville Dam, from April 1 until July 8. During this time there will be additional water passing in the West Fork which may attract paddlers outside the scheduled releases.