Pigeon River, Dries of the Pigeon River, Pigeon River below the Dries Confluence of East and West Forks of the Pigeon to Cocke CR 2484 Bridge

Canton, North Carolina

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Used to be you took your life into your own hands if you paddled the Pigeon. Just 40 miles upstream is the town of Canton, where the Champion International Plant—a pulp and paper mill—dumped toxic wastewater into the Pigeon, leaving the river the color of coffee (no cream, please) and smelling quite bad. Thanks to the work of the State of Tennessee, the EPA, and others, Champion cleaned up its act. As a result, the rafting industry on the Pigeon blossomed in the early 1990s, bringing an increase in paddling (not to mention tourist dollars) to the area. The Pigeon originates in the hills surrounding Canton, flowing through farmland. Several miles below Canton the river flows through a deep gorge with I-40 running along high above it. The “Dry Gorge” between Waterville Lake and the Walters Plant is just that, except in periods of extremely high water. The distance is approximately 13 miles. The river below Walters Plant becomes a natural slalom run through a rock-strewn course. This could be made into one of the finest slalom courses in the East but for the pollution.

Pigeon River, Dries of the Pigeon River, Pigeon River below the Dries: Confluence of East and West Forks of the Pigeon to Cocke CR 2484 Bridge Professional Review and Guide

"Used to be you took your life into your own hands if you paddled the Pigeon. Just 40 miles upstream is the town of Canton, where the Champion International Plant—a pulp and paper mill—dumped toxic wastewater into the Pigeon, leaving the river the color of coffee (no cream, please) and smelling quite bad. Thanks to the work of the State of Tennessee, the EPA, and others, Champion cleaned up its act. As a result, the rafting industry on the Pigeon blossomed in the early 1990s, bringing an increase in paddling (not to mention tourist dollars) to the area.

The Pigeon originates in the hills surrounding Canton, flowing through farmland. Several miles below Canton the river flows through a deep gorge with I-40 running along high above it. The “Dry Gorge” between Waterville Lake and the Walters Plant is just that, except in periods of extremely high water. The distance is approximately 13 miles. The river below Walters Plant becomes a natural slalom run through a rock-strewn course. This could be made into one of the finest slalom courses in the East but for the pollution."

Activity Type: Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing
Nearby City: Canton
Distance: 46
Elevation Loss: Minimal
Duration: 6 sections that take 20.5 hours to paddle
Class: Class I-V
Local Maps: Waynesville, Cruso, Canton, Clyde, Fines Creek; Water ville, Hartford, Newport (TN) (USGS); Haywood, Cocke (TN) (County) Cove Creek Gap, Waterville (USGS); Haywood (County)
Driving Directions: Directions to Pigeon River, Dries of the Pigeon River, Pigeon River below the Dries: Confluence of East and West Forks of the Pigeon to Cocke CR 2484 Bridge

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May 2018