Teresa Greider, Gorilla, Green River Narrows, NC.  Copyright Chris Bell.  Click for larger image. Green River, NC
Narrows


Class

Flow

Gauge

IV-V
(2 @ 5+)

 90-160%

The Green River Flows Page (online schedule and more, updated hourly) or Duke Power:  828-698-2068 (direct to message);  800-829-5253 (menu to message).  Schedules are announced daily, generally about 7:30 am, and are subject to change.  The water takes about 2 hours to reach the put-in.

V
(2 @ 5+)

 160-200%+

 
Character: Pool and drop steep creek
Scenery: Stunning
Distance from Downtown Asheville: 45 minutes to take out, 40 minutes to put in
Length: 2.9 miles
Season: All year (dam release)
Other sections: Upper Green [an alternate put-in;  II-III- (2 @ III+)], Lower Green (I-II)
Put-in: End of trail from Gallimore Road (0.6 mile hike)  See note in bold below and section on put-in parking news!
Take-out: Fishtop Access off Green Cove Road
Directions from Asheville (to take-out): Take I-26 South to Exit 59 (Saluda).  Turn left at the bottom of the ramp, turn left a couple hundred yards later onto Green Cove Road.  Fishtop Access is at the bottom of the Gorge -- about 3 miles downhill. 
Shuttle: 25 minutes each direction.  Return to I-26.  Head North to Exit 53 (Hendersonville / Upward Road).  Turn right onto Upward Road and drive East (away from Hendersonville) 1.5 miles.  Turn right onto Big Hungry Road (you'll see an apple packing shed on the left, then two churches next door to each other on the right;  turn after the second church), then take your first left (to stay on Big Hungry Road . . .), then your first right (to . . . you guessed it . . . stay on Big Hungry Road), then your first right again (to turn onto Gallimore Road).  Park in the gated parking area at the end of the public portion of Gallimore Road.  You will need a key to the locked gate to get into the parking area.  Here's a link to current information on parking and keys.  To get to the river, walk down the gated road.  After about 0.4 of a mile the road will bend sharply to the right and head up hill.  On the left side of this bend you'll find a well-worn trail.  Take this trail to the river.  Note:  the Gallimore Road parking area is closed the months of January and February (to protect the field), and parking is not allowed along Gallimore Road.  Best option:  paddle the Upper Green to get to the Narrows.  Another alternative:  drop your boats at the trailhead, drive back to Big Hungry Road to park, and walk or thumb back to the trailhead.
Other access points: To hike into the heart of the Narrows, follow the shuttle directions up to the point you'd ordinarily turn onto Gallimore Road.  Don't.  Continue on another 3.1 miles to the Pulliam Creek Trail (a total distance of 5.9 miles from the interstate).  Park on the right side of road (being careful not to block traffic) and look over the side.  You'll see a modest footbridge (two logs) over a tiny creek.  Approximately two miles from the trailhead you'll come to a very steep path falling off the mountain.  Take this path to the river.  The last part is very steep, requiring scrambling on hands and knees.  The path comes out just upstream of Sunshine Falls, near Groove Tube / Nutcracker.  Head upstream, passing Rapid Transit and Green Scream Machine to get to the four distinct drops and four linking sections that comprise Gorilla [from the bottom up, and using Tom V's names:  Nies' Pieces, Butt Cruncher, the Speed Trap, Zoom Flume (the main drop), the Brain Mirror (the calm part of which is the eddy many boaters choose to catch), the Notch (local name = the Narrows, pronounced the Gnarrs), the Prayer Zone and Pencil Sharpener].  The hike in takes 45 minutes to an hour.
Camping: Camping is not allowed on the Green River Gamelands, which includes all the public lands closest to the river.  The fine for camping on the Gamelands is $90.  Duke Power allows free camping on their lands, including the parking area for the Upper Green's put-in and creekside upstream of the powerplant (park your car at the put-in and hike upstream).  Duke Power could easily revoke their permission, so please be discreet, polite, and as low impact as possible.  Duke provides no facilities or running water.  Warning!!!  The rules on camping at the Upper Green put-in may have changed!  A couple out of state boaters were fined $100 for setting up a tent in the parking lot.  Do not camp here until further notice!!!

For those less inclined to rough it, several commercial campgrounds are located along or near the Lower Green, including the Green River Campground (three miles down Green Cove Road from the Fishtop Access), the Wilderness Cove Campground (four miles down Green Cove Road), the Green River Cove Campground (six miles), and Silver Creek Campground (take Green Cove Road past about two miles past the Lower Green take-out to Silver Creek Road, take a right, and go approximately a mile and a half).   Most of these campgrounds close for the winter, but the Silver Creek Campground may be open year round.

Three USFS campgrounds are located within an hour of the Green:  Lake Powhatan, North Mills River, and Davidson River.  All are particularly attractive if you wish to combine some mountain biking with your paddling as they are located near some of the best mountain biking in the U.S. (check out the Bent Creek, Mills River, DuPont State Forest and Davidson River mountain biking areas on J. Mitchell's MTB WNC page).  The Lake Powhatan campground is open from April 1 to October 31;  the North Mills River and Davidson River Campground are open year round.  All require reservations a minimum of four days in advance during their peak seasons (mid-May to October 31;  click the links above to make reservations online), and all require two-day minimum stays on weekends (three-day minimum stays holiday weekends).  Sites at Lake Powhatan are $14 / night, those at North Mills River $8 / night, and those at Davidson River $15-18 / night.  The Lake Powhatan and Davidson River campgrounds have hot showers and flush toilets, the North Mills River campground does not.

Begin your drive to all three USFS campgrounds by heading west on I-26 (i.e., toward Asheville).  To get to the Davidson River and North Mills campgrounds, take Exit 49B (Hendersonville / US 64) and get on US 64 heading east (toward Hendersonville).  The Davidson River campground is on US 64 a couple miles past its intersection with NC 280 (near Brevard).  To get to the North Mills River campground, turn right onto NC 25 in downtown Hendersonville, then left a short distance later onto Haywood Road.  Take Haywood Road all the way to Mills River and NC 280.  Turn right onto NC 280 and head north less than a mile to the left at the stoplight onto North Mills River Road.  Follow North Mills River Road about five miles to the North Mills River Recreation Area.  To get to the Lake Powhatan campground from the Green, stay on I-26 all the way to Exit 33 (NC 191).  Turn left at the bottom of the ramp and then left again onto NC 191, then head south two miles to the stoplight on Bent Creek Ranch Road.  Turn right and follow the signs and this road to the Lake Powhatan Recreation Area.

If you're on a tight budget and want to camp near this mountain biking mecca, the USFS allows free camping along the dirt road between Bent Creek and North Mills River.  This is the road that heads up the hill to the right just before you get to the North Mills River campground.  And if money is no object and you want to eat and sleep in style, check out the Bent Creek Lodge.

 

Gradient   Green River Narrows elevation profile.  Copyright Chris Bell.  Click for larger image.
  Average: 178 fpm
  By mile: 2.88 miles:
154, 269, 102 fpm over last 0.88 miles
  Maximum: 667 fpm (over 0.06 miles)
  Maximum half mile: 422 fpm
  Maximum mile: 342 fpm
Guides  
  Online: Leland's Paddle Page (includes a virtual tour, the latest parking news and loads of great information);  Tom Visnius's Boofin the Green (Tom's 1991 notes for a planned guide to running every drop in the Narrows);  American Whitewater's Green Narrows Page.
  Print: Bob and David Benner's Carolina Whitewater:  A Canoeist's Guide to the Western Carolinas
Maps: Trails of the Green River Gamelands
Photos: Green River Photo Archive
Other: A cautionary tale by the late Scott Bristow:  Green Narrows Trip Report.
Consider bringing your mountain bike.  The Bent Creek, Mills River, DuPont State Forest and Davidson River mountain biking areas are all within an hour of the Green (read about them on J. Mitchell's MTB WNC page).

 


 

My home river.  Though about a decade beyond its days on the cutting edge, the steepest .55 mile of the Narrows is still  has some tilt and challenge to it, with the 11 major rapids strewn along a riverbed falling at an average rate of 418 feet per mile.  The entire run is a little under three miles with an average gradient of 177 fpm.  It was first paddled in its entirety by Tom Visnius and John Kennedy in November, 1988.

The Green runs daily much of the year, though the releases can be as short as four hours or at levels too low to boat.  The 1-800 number in the gauge section above allows you to access information about the reservoir height.   A full reservoir is 100 feet;  releases are much more likely when the reservoir is over 98 feet.  The most common flow is 1 unit at 100%. The run gets boney with much less water (almost no one paddles the Narrows at less than 90% and if they do they almost always walk Gorilla and Sunshine, both of which get harder with less water).  Somewhere between 160-200% the Narrows get pushy enough that folks often start walking some drops they ordinarily run.  The hole at the base of the drop following Gorilla's main drop gets notably sticky as levels rise;  I've always walked it at 200%.

Generating one unit of power at 100% releases 216 cfs of water into the river;  a 100% release one day can result in a different amount of water in the Narrows than a 100% release another, however.  The most important reason for this is that several tributaries enter the Green below the powerhouse.  When these tributaries are running high -- as they will after heavy rains -- or low -- as they will much of the summer -- the flow through the Narrows is affected.  The most important of these tributaries is the Big Hungry, which enters the Green about 100 yards downstream of the put-in (and can itself be run as an alternate put-in after heavy rains;  the put-in for the Big Hungry is at the bridge you'll cross if you stay on Big Hungry Road rather than turning onto Gallimore Road on the way to the normal put-in).  Interestingly, even the time of day seems to matter:  the Green can feel like it has a little more water in it earlier in a release.  To cultivate a feeling for the subtle differences in water level, get in the habit of checking the level of the river lapping against or over the flat rock on the upstream end of the confluence of the Big Hungry (here's a photo of the confluence with the Big Hungry with the indicator rock in the foreground).  With a "true" 100%, the water is almost, but not quite, flowing over the top of the rock.  Note that on the day I took the photo of the indicator rock the water was no where near its top.

Amusing factoid:  there are at least as many variations on the names of the drops and lines through the Narrows as there are Narrows paddlers.  In preparing this page I asked Narrows pioneer Tom Visnius what he called the various drops.  Tom responded by posting his notes for a 1991 guide to the Narrows (Boofin the Green).  Compare the names in Tom's Appendix (listing his names for all the rapids from the almost always dry section below the dam, through the Upper Green and Narrows to the Fishtop Access) to the names in his detailed rapid descriptions.  Like I said, there are at least as many variations on the names of the drops and lines through the Narrows as there are Narrows paddlers . . .

Fun factoid:  the Green is eating its way very quickly (by geologic time . . .) upstream.  Paddlers can observe this by the frequency with which lines and moves change from year to year as the water cuts new paths down the mountain.  A case in point:  the disappearance of the rock spin move on river right in the rapid below Frankenstein.  The brother-in-law of a paddling buddy wrote his PhD thesis in geology on the Green.  In it he predicts that the Green will eventually eat its way into the French Broad's watershed, capturing its waters.  Imagine the possibilities . . . 

 


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Revised: November 12, 2003.

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