South Fork of Mills River
The South Fork of the Mills River is one of the most overlooked wilderness runs in Western North Carolina. Unlike other remote river reaches, the whitewater is relatively easy, allowing intermediate paddlers to access a spectacularly remote valley.
The distance from the put in on Yellow Gap Road to the first available takeout at Turkeypen is 12 miles. Downstream of Turkeypen, the river maintains its scenic character, but the whitewater ends. An additional 10 miles of flatwater can be added below Turkeypen. The takeout for the lower section is where 280 crosses the Mills.
Destination Distance From Downtown
The whitewater on the South Mills is not particularly difficult. It is predominantly class II-III. However, it is long and it flows through one of the most remote areas of Pisgah National Forest. Cell phones do not work there. Evacuation is complicated due to flooding of the South Mills Trail when there is enough water to paddle.
Time To Complete
The South Mills from Yellow Gap Road near Pink Beds to Turkeypen Gap can be done in as little as three hours by motivated experts. Class III paddlers should plan on a full day as there are many ledge type rapids and blind turns that require scouting.
Spring, Fall, and Winter
The South Mills runs regularly from fall through spring but it does require rain. Look for 500 to 2000 cfs on the USGS gage Mills River at Mills River, NC. One to two inches of rain will provide a runnable water level.
- Flat Water Paddling
- Food and Drink
- Mountain Biking
- Road Running
- Skiing & Snowboarding
- Trail Running
- White Water Paddling