The Best Rapid in Each State: The Southeast
If you've seen our list of best rapids in the western states, you'll know that we follow an incredibly scientific formula to determine the best rapid in each state. This formula factors in:
We strive to choose rapids that are technically challenging, but aren't necessarily gnarly class V+. The best rapids in the state should be able to be enjoyed by the non-professional. And finally, almost most important, how does it feel when you're bobbing through the tail-waves, right-side-up and with the worst of it behind you?
North Carolina - Gorilla on the Green River
This infamous rapid on the Green Narrows almost needs no introduction. You've almost certainly seen the carnage videos from the Green River Race every year, which are usually 90% at Gorilla Rapid.
This rapid stacks class V moves one on top of the other, requiring paddlers to be precise with their speed, angle, and positioning. The Flume is possibly the most photogenic and recognizable rapid in the east, and draws crowds every year at the race.
South Carolina - Bull Sluice on the Chattooga
This class IV+ is a Chattooga river classic on the border between South Carolina and Georgia. The class III+ entrance is followed by a large drop with several options for a line. The feeling of a successful descent is made that much sweeter by the cheering from the crowds that gather on nice weekends.
Georgia - Oceana on the Tallulah
This classic slide on the Tallulah river appears in just about every southeastern kayaking edit you could think of. A huge plume of water near the bottom makes for an exciting run as kayakers come rocketing out and into the pool below. The typical run is down the left side. However a center line exists as well.
Virginia - The Spout on the Potomac
This classic waterfall on the Great Falls of the Potomac culminates a short, but really sweet section of class IV+/V whitewater. The section is only a mile long. Many spend the day lapping it for maximum bang for your buck. The line off the Spout requires you to drive hard up onto a boil on the right in order to boof off an overhanging ledge. This move makes for really cool photos as you come off the lip at a bit of an angle.
West Virginia - Pillow Rock on the Gauley River
Pillow Rock is another infamous rapid that draws a crowd every Gauley Fest. While it's not the hardest rapid on the Upper Gauley section, it certainly has the potential for being the most memorable. All the water in the river drives hard up onto a large boulder on the left (the Pillow Rock). The crowd pleasing line involves driving hard up onto the pillow rock and disappearing into the large hole just below.
Tennessee - Humongous on the Ocoee
This rapid is famous enough to have gone to the 1996 Summer Olympics! The kayak slalom course finished at Humongous rapid. The river constricts, forms a large wave train that is split in half by a large rock. Unique eddies and large hydraulics have claimed a number of swimmers over the years. Including several of the world's best during the Olympics.
Maryland - Back Canyon on the Potomac
This class V narrow box canyon comes in the middle of an action packed run through the Fish Ladder section on the Great Falls of the Potomac. Back Canyon has four steep, technical drops back-to-back with no eddies between. Be on your game as you are in full view of park visitors hiking. Successful runs often elicit ooh's and aah's from interested crowds! Less than clean lines often result in an unwary bystander calling 911.