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Nolichuckey River in Tennessee

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

The Nolichuckey is a free running river located about 20 minutes south of Johnson City. The river itself begins in North Carolina and flows down through the mountains and then through the valleys of Tennessee. There are several sections of the river that can be done for different trips - one can start just above the "gorge" and run the river to the campground, or one can put in near Cherokee adventures and run the river to "Big Rock", and disembark at what was the Chuckey Trading Company. I've never done the first, but the second can take 2-4 hours depending on how much you just float down the river when not in the rapids and if you take a break. Rapids on the river depend on the time of year and the amount of flow, but most are in the class 2-4 range (some have called the rapids in the gorge class 5, which I can't comment on having never done it). Everything on the 2nd part runs in the 2-3 range.

This river flows slower in the summertime, so early spring is usually the peak season on the Nolichuckey - most of the outfitters pack up around August. Also, it's not real practical to do multi-day trips on this river because most of the river past Chuckey Trading Company runs through private property, so there's limited places to put in/out - not to mention that you start getting out in the middle of nowhere once you're past Erwin.


Full accommodations at the campground - lodging, bath, outfitter store, food. On the lower section, restaurant at Cherokee Adventure (River's Edge Restaurant); no real accommodations past this point.


No fees except if you stay at the campground; some outfitters charge a parking/put in fee.


From Johnson City, Interstate 181 South to exit 15 (Jackson Love Highway); to run the gorge, left off exit, right at Holiday Inn, left at National Park sign, follow the signs from there. To run the lower section, exit 18 off of 181; right off exit, follow road up hill; just past Cherokee Adventures there are several points to pull off a car and put in.


Put in at Nolichuckey Campground, USA Raft, Cherokee Adventures; contact any of the local outfitters at the campground for more info on put in spots.


Cherokee Adventures in Erwin, Nantahala Outdoor Center in Erwin, Mahoney's Outfitters in Erwin. The National Park Service may be able to provide info on how heavy the river is running, although the local rafting companies (USA Raft and Cherokee) usually know the cfm's of the river.

Trip Details

  • Skill Level: Advanced
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Trip Location