Where should paddlers go when they don’t want an audience, are just learning how to playboat, or just want to explore new features on the Nantahala River?

NOC Paddling School Manager, Tosh Arwood, gives the inside scoop on top play spots on the Nantahala, where they are and what tricks paddlers can perform at these features. Here’s what he has to say:

Location: Surfing Rapid
How to get there: Park at the pull-off just upstream of Pizza by the River.
Best for: Front surfing, back surfing and flat spins (an aptly-named feature). Look for “Surfers” to get even better as water levels increase. At high water it can be the best all-around play spot on the river.  

Location: Bridge Wave
How to get there: Under the Founder’s Bridge at NOC. Park in the main river-left parking lot. 
Best for: Front Surfing, back surfing and flat spins. This wave appears and disappears with different water levels, but when it’s there it’s as good a place as any for beginner paddlers to log some surfing time. 

Location: Whirlpool Rapid
How to get there: Two rapids below the rock quarry (no easy park and play access). 
Best for: Squirt Boating, front surfing and stern squirts. This rapid has pretty strong eddy lines, so it’s easy to practice stern squirts here. Bring an old RPM for maximum fun. The surfing wave is stable too, but watch out for downriver traffic: the swirling eddy lines will eventually push someone into you.  

Location: Nantahala Falls
How to get there: The last rapid on the Nantahala rafting trip. A well-marked pull-off directly above the Falls provides good access; it’s the first pull off upstream of River’s End Restaurant.
Best for: Downriver freestyle moves, loops, stern squirts and enders.

Location: Camel Hump
How to get there: Park at The Ledges rapid and walk the short trail upstream until you see a rock in the center of the river resembling a camel’s hump.
Best for: Side surfing, spins and low-angle cartwheels. 

So, next time you’re paddling down the Nantahala keep an eye out for these opportunities. If you have any questions about playboating or if you’re looking for some advice feel free to give us a call at at 800.232.7287.

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