These internationally-recognized white water sites are well known for their scenic beauty and recreational opportunities.
Floating, canoeing and rafting constitute the major attraction for both the Hiwassee and Ocoee Rivers. Based on the International Scale of River Difficulty, the rivers have Class I, II, III, IV and V rapids. While both locations are exceptional white water settings, users should be aware that even placid looking streams are potentially hazardous for those unskilled and unfamiliar with the basic techniques of floating or water safety. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited and glass bottles, aluminum cans and Styrofoam are prohibited on both rivers.
Floating the Hiwassee
Based on the International Scale of river difficulty the Hiwassee State Scenic River is primarily Class I (moving water with small waves, few obstructions) and Class II (easy rapids with wide, clear channels; some maneuvering required). Certain sections may be considered Class III (rapids with high waves capable of swamping an open canoe; requires complex maneuvering). Coast guard approved, minimal type 2 or 3 are required for boating/floating activities on the Hiwassee. The Hiwassee River flows through both private and public lands and permission must be obtained prior to entry for any purpose.
Coast guard approved, minimal type 3, life jackets are required for all recreational activities along the stream bed in the Ocoee. Paddlers on the Ocoee River should be 12 years of age.
Middle Ocoee: The Middle Ocoee is almost a continuous whitewater experience from the Put-In at Rogers Branch until the Take-Out at Caney Creek. The flow level can vary between 1200 and 1800 cubic feet per second (CFS). The whitewater section from the wooden diversion dam to Ocoee No. 2 Powerhouse has an average drop of 54 feet per mile and is considered a Class III and IV river. When taking a rafting trip on this section of the river approximate time on the water is 2 hours.
The Upper Ocoee:The Upper Ocoee River experience begins at Ocoee No. 3 Dam, where the river runs parallel with the historic ‘Old Copper Road’, at this starting section of the river you will encounter Class II whitewater and seclusion in the wilderness. The whitewater excitement continues with the thrilling Olympic whitewater section of the Ocoee River where you will encounter Class IV whitewater. Note: Minimum age for commercial rafting on the Ocoee is 12 years old.
The Hiwassee Scenic River flows through the Cherokee National Forest and Hiwassee/Ocoee State Park. It is a regulated river heavily used by rafters and kayakers at high flows but you can also hire a guide to fish from a drift boat. Wade fishing is limited to low flow periods. Anglers can catch Largemouth Bass, yellow perch, catfish, Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout. Fishing for trout is best fall through late spring during the stocking seasons. Many anglers flyfish but other tackle is just as effective. A trout stamp is required.
Gee Creek Trail — 1.0 Miles — Natural Surface — Easy