Alabama; about 40 miles west of Rome, Georgia.

The Little
River in Alabama,commonly referred to as Little River Canyon, is a
medium size pool and drop river running through an outstanding canyon
offering class III to V whitewater for canoe and kayak.  Little
River Canyon is a rain fed river, and runs mostly from November
through April.  It can get quite high at times, and be runnable
for several days after a large storm. Often Little River Canyon
is running at the same time the Tellico is,and Little River is closer
— only a 2 hour drive from Atlanta.  There are three distinct
sections which run together to make for about a 12 mile run if
starting at the top.  For all sections, most people take out at
the AL 273 highway bridge, below the old Canyon Mouth Park
campground.  The higher upstream you start, the harder the white

1.AL Hwy 35
Section (“Suicide Section”)

Class IV-V:
about 3 miles in length.  Put-in downstream river left below AL
Highway 35 bridge in pool below the Falls (V+). Trail along rim, then
down to river — 1/4 mile.  Alternate put-in on river right
about half mile downstream from falls at the first large paved
parking area on the canyon rim road. Short trail down to river.
The harder rapids in order as you see them are the Falls (V+),
Avalanche, Cable Falls, and Pinball.  Good view of two of the
harder rapids, Cable Falls and Pinball, about 1 mile further
downriver at the next large canyon rim view parking area (dirt).

experienced, expert Class V boaters do successfully run the river
left side of the 40+ feet tall Little River Falls at most water
levels. It is potentially dangerous at all levels, but especially at
low water levels — 3-4 inches or less — due to hitting rock.
Know what you are doing before attempting this bad boy!  The
vast majority of boaters should put in below the Falls.

Water Levels:
Minimum is0″ on AL Hwy. 35 bridge gauge; this is very low and
will be a creek experience.  Goldy locks Level (“It’s juuust
right”) is around 6″-10″. Great fun.  Big Dog
Level is over12″ — pushy and serious Class V level.

2.Upper Two

Class IV to
IV+: about 2.5miles in length.  Put-in is from small dirt pull
out from the canyon rim road, approximately 3 miles downstream from
AL Hwy. 35.  Steep trail down to river,about 1/4 mile.
Put-in can be tricky to find, so recommend going with someone who
knows the way for the first time.  Putting in here avoids the
harder rapids upstream, and makes for fun class IV boating with one
class IV+/easy V rapid — “Humpty Dumpty”.  Just upstream
of Humpty is Roadblock, which has a nasty hole at most levels —
make sure to boof the right side and avoid it.  Humpty can be
portaged (long carry on right), but is an excellent rapid to test
yourself on — good pool at the bottom. Beautiful area here.

Water Levels:
Same as for above section, except the Upper Two can handle more water
safely.  If you think that the water looks too high for the Hwy
35 section, then Upper Two should be fine, within reason.  I
would estimate the Big Dog Level to be around 1.5 feet on the Hwy. 35
bridge gauge.

3.Chair Lift

About 6 miles
in length.  Refer to “Appalachian Whitewater” for a good
description of this popular class III (one easy IV) run. Great canyon
views here.  Hike in on a decent trail at the old Chair Lift
area from the canyon rim road. If you are comfortable on the
Nantahala, including running Nantahala Falls, then in the company of
experienced boaters this section will be fine.  It is mostly
class II with a few IIIs, and long pools between rapids. One class
IV, Bottle Neck, will be found about 2-3 miles down from the Chair
Lift area, but can be portaged.  At higher levels, 8″ or
above, this run becomes a solid class III run with some big waves and
powerful current — fun.

Water Levels
by Telephone

Two phone
gauges give a good indication on levels for trip planning purposes.
Most paddlers now use the Highway 35 bridge gauge for levels, so it
is best to correlate these phone readings to the bridge gauge.

TVA Gauge:
800-238-2264.  Indicate unregulated stream flows, and listen for
“Towne Creek near Geraldine”.  Towne Creek is near Little
River, and can approximate flows on Little River.  If Towne
Creek has been up to at least 500cfs, and is now dropping, then a
minimum is around 300 cfs to be able to run Little River with a fun
flow.  “Roughly”,every 100 cfs in Towne Creek equals about
1″ on the Hwy 35 gauge; 300 CFS= about 3″.

Alabama Power
Gauge:800-525-3711.  Listen to their safety message for about 20
seconds, then enter 6, then 2, then 2.  This will give you
“Little River Near Blue Pond”.  This is taken from the gauge
at the old campground, half mile upstream from the take-out.
Due to tributaries flowing in, the flow reported here will not be
what you have at the top.  My experience with a minimum flow
with this gauge in 1994 was 1000 CFS equaled 4.6′ on the campground
gauge and 2″ on the Hwy 35 gauge.  Maximum flow from this
gauge for the uppermost section is probably around 3000-4000 CFS, but
I am guess-timating — check out the gauge on the bridge to be sure.

David Wallace
-From the Eddy Line, December 1995