The Beauty of Tremont: Paddling

Randy boofing the approach rapid to Staircase

Yesterday was supposed to be a Cheoah run, but a landslide shutting off the Dragon highway ended that plan. Fortunately, a storm also opened up many other opportunities, and we chose Tremont. That was my first run on Tremont. Despite my freaking out almost the entire time, I liked that run, and with a couple more under my belt, that stretch of whitewater will quickly become my favorite.

Go to the Smoky Mountain National Forest through Townsend, take a right at the Y–the fork in the road where the two streams join–and make the first left you see. From there, drive all the way to either the only bridge that crosses the stream (for the lower put in) or up to the trail parking area (upper put in). Once there, unload and hit the river!

From the put in right below the bridge, Tremont starts off as a continuous read-and-run

Nick boofing the Tooth.

pinball machine rapid. That’s pretty much the state of the river for the 2.2 miles to the takeout, with one major rapid called Stop Sign. After Stop Sign, the river mellows out a little bit, though watching out for holes and rocks is still important.

The one mile stretch above that section is a bit meatier, with higher drops and a faster paced pinball machine feel. It’s a solid class IV while the lower is III-IV. Staircase and the entrance to it are the major rapids on this section. It’s an impressive boof, land semi in hole, paddle through to big boof. After that, more read-and-run rapids and plenty of boofs until reaching the Tooth, another fun boof on river right of the big rock.

One important thing to note about Temont is the high chance for wood blocking parts or all of the river. Always be sure to check as your driving up (though watch out for potholes in the road and oncoming traffic–better yet, have your buddy in the car scout for you).

Beech and sweet gum hug the bank, and mountain laurels loom over the water, adding to the secluded feel of the river. An added bonus is the lack of tourist traffic blocking up the road as they take pictures of you like you’re a cross between scenic wildlife and a nascar accident they’re waiting to happen. This river is fast and fun and a great taste of what the Great Smoky Mountains whitewater is all about.


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