Rivers and Creeks in Western North Carolina
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Nolichucky River • Western North Carolina
fishing, rafting, kayaking, canoeing and tubing

Nolichucky River

The Nolichucky River, a wild, free-flowing stream, tumbles through one of the deepest gorges in the East. The technical rapids, through the spectacular gorge, offer a challenge even to experienced paddlers.  Most people travel 8 miles from Poplar Boat launch to Erwin, Tennessee. The Nolichucky River runs through the Appalachian District of the Pisgah National Forest.

The Nolichucky is hidden in the mountains of North Carolina on the Tennessee border near the tiny town of Erwin, Tennessee. Once you reach Erwin, which is nestled in the Appalachians of eastern Tennessee near Johnson City, it is still a good one-hour drive on snaking two-lane mountain roads to the put in point in North Carolina.

Most of the 110 mile length of the Nolichucky can be paddled, the 30 mile section from Poplar, NC to Embreeville, TN is the prime section. This section can be broken into three smaller runs depending on your skills and time available. The run from Poplar to the railroad bridge near Erwin is nine miles of Class 3-4 white water. From the railroad bridge to highway 81 you can enjoy ten miles of Class 1-2 Water. Another ten mile run from Riverview to Embreeville is a nice Class 1 paddle. The milder water of the lower sections is good canoeing water.

Directions: Leave Asheville on 19-23. Take Exit 12 twelve miles into Tennessee (note that 19/23 becomes I-181 at the state line). Turn right at the bottom of the ramp, then left at the "T" intersection you hit almost immediately. Just after the crest of a hill 2.4 miles from the "T" intersection you'll come to Chestoa Road. Turn right onto it and follow it one mile to the bridge over the Nolichucky. Cross the bridge and turn right onto Jones Branch Road. Most take out at the Nolichucky Gorge Campground 1.1 miles up Jones Branch Road. Another alternative is to take out at the USFS's Chestoa site 0.2 miles up Jones Branch Road.

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