In the summer of ’82, before the roads were paved or the parking lots cut, western North Carolina’s Class I-II Lower Green River was one of the wildest places I had ever been. I was sure I had cheated death when I survived wrapping a canoe in the largest rapid, Big Corky. More than two decades later, the Lower Green is the second most traveled stretch of river in the state, and those of us seeking high adventure have turned our attention to its wilderness whitewater stretches: the Class II-III Upper Green and the infamous Class V Green River Narrows, which has drawn paddlers from around the globe to challenge its slides and precipitous drops.

From its origins high in the unspoiled Green River Preserve, the river flows as a calm-water stream through a wide valley into Lake Summit. Every morning, eager paddlers awake and call the Duke Power Information Line to find out how much water will spill from the lake and await them in the rapids that day. With reliable releases almost 300 days each year, paddlers are seldom disappointed.

The Upper Green from Tuxedo Hydro to the Big Hungry River holds Class II in a beautiful wooded mountain setting, with two large Class III drops for added spice. If you’re not ready for serious gradient, don’t miss the take-out; just downstream the river drops at almost 300 feet per mile through the inner gorge, over drops such as Gorilla and Go Left and Die, before mellowing into the Lower Green. With reliable flows and a wide variety of difficulty, the Green River has something for almost every whitewater adventurer.

For more info, log on to, www.boatingbeta. com, and paddle/. Call (800) 829-5253 for daily dam-release info.