my suggestion is to go check out the ocoee river in ocoee,tn about 1 hour from chattanooga,and its world famous so you'll find many partners at rivers edge,5 miles of continous class 3 with one class 4. i'm returning there in july. you can find lots of info about this river on american whitewater. the hiwassee river is close by,and is trully beutiful,but only a class 2. stop by quest expeditions and say hi for me their a great bunch,and will help you out if your looking for something bigger.
At this time of year unless it is actually raining there is no Class 5 with in 4 hours of there. That is the likely scenario the weather is generally very sunny until the Hurricane spin off in late summer. If it is raining Rock Creek outfitters is a good place to start calling for partners. What is good there is the Playboating Ocoee 1hr, Rock island 1.5 hrs. Otherwise the closest class v is the Green past asheville which is 5 hours but I might be able to help you find someone there.
IIRC from my time in Bryson, Chattanooga is 2 hours from us, and 1:40 from the Green, a total of 3:40. Not close enough for after work, but WELL worth the drive. You will be able to just show up and hook up with people. Many folks do double runs and sometimes folks even triple up if they have a whole day there. If you know when you can go to the Green, I'll check with my friends at NOC to see when they are off. They'll go to the Green if there's no rain, but if there is, they'll be creekin' wherever the water is.
I know there has been some good water there recently, as some of my friends just hit Overflow Creek a few days ago. I'd watch the gauges in the Little River Canyon area, too. If the Park runs, you are probably about 90-120 minutes from West Prong, if you like the stouter stuff.
This maybe way obvious but try logging on to www.boatertalk.com . I see lots of South eastern boaters on that site. Maybe you can hook up with people through that site. See if you can get on the chattoga with someone. Its a classic, probably my favorite river.
If yer in the 'Nooge and it dumps check out North Chickamauga Creek, Cooper Creek, Middle Creek, Suck Creek, Falling Water which all drain off Signal Mountain, but do require a LOT of rain to get going. Otherwise hit up the Ocoee on the weekend for world class playboating. Head in to North Carolina for the Green Narrows, Watauga, Wilson Creek, Nolichucky, Pigeon, and tons of others. AW's page is the best source for info. Rock Creek is your best connection on the north side of the Tennessee River downtown.
Section IV of the Chattooga (referred to just as "Sect IV" here) should be running at some level. even at low flows it is class iv- with consequences. it's probably 2 1/2 hours from chattanooga, but it's a s.e. classic that you should try to get in. it also holds much longer than the creeks, so if it rains, hit the creeks, then sect iv.
it is also one of 3 rivers that deliverance was filmed on. you go right by "sodomy creek" where the pig scene was filmed before hitting 5 falls, the rivers famous conclusion, with five nice drops (iv- thru iv+ at normal flows) right near the end of the run. it's not a class v river, but it's probably the most frequent killer in the s.e.
Ditto everyone's comments on Sec. IV. It really is THE classic eastern river. Make sure you walk up and run Bull Sluice before you put in and watch out for Soc-Em-Dog over 1.8'. Sec. IV isn't that hard, but as my friend Julian so succinctly put it after a terrible pounding and swim from missing his boof at 2.2', "Soc-Em-Dog ain't no joke."
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