Fast Fred Ruddock dropping second ledge of Broken Nose on Middle Ocoee with happy guests

Hydrology and Hazards of Olympic Course
explained by kayaker and river guide Fast Fred Ruddock

Hydrology and Hazards of 1996 Olympic Course

301 - Ocoee River Hydrology and Hazards covers many of the rapids of the Ocoee River. This article covers the 1996 Olympic Course. Engineers associated with the TVA redesigned about a quarter miles of the riverbed for the Olympics. In addition to narrowing the channel by roughly two thirds hazards were addressed. Under cuts and sieves were filled with concrete. Additionally some features were added to create a worthy Olympic whitewater venue for the Atlanta games. This is a popular place for families with small children to wade and splash in the water between releases. The nature of the world is impermanence. These features are subject to change over time or quickly during high water events. Be informed and be safe out there people.

Video of the 1996 Olympic Course's Hydrologies and Hazards

The above video features a playful route through the class IV whitewater. This section is the safest class IV whitewater for swimmers on the Ocoee River. However it has been the site of deaths from overexertion. This is not uncommon in whitewater. You should honestly access your own level of fitness before taking on whitewater activities. This is especially true above the level of class III. Whitewater activities come with inherent risks. The inability to swim and poor levels of fitness increase these risks.

The Olympic section of the Upper Ocoee River includes several rapids. These rapids in the order encountered are Welcome Ledge, Smiley Face, Slam Dunk, Callihan's, Godzilla, Humongous and Bryce's Blunder. A competent guide in coordination with a competent crew can run this quarter mile of class IV whitewater rather quickly. Any errors will however receive penalty points and possibly result in thrilling and demanding swimming. The hydraulics are capable of recirculating swimmers. Underling cardiac disease may increase risks to swimmers. Fatalities have ocurred in this matter.

All that said this is the best whitewater the Upper Ocoee has to offer to thrill seekers.

Continue reading to learn more about the hydrology and hazards of the Ocoee River.

Fast Fred Ruddock in Ecuador overlooking Otavalo

Got Questions About This Ocoee River Rafting Guide?

I am Fast Fred Ruddock and I would be happy to give you honest answers to your questions about rafting or the Ocoee River. You may email me directly with your questions or concerns at fastfredruddock@gmail.com and if you would like to come rafting with me be sure to check out Fast Fred Rafts for the latest details.

When I started this online Ocoee River Rafting Guide in 2016 there were none available online or in print. I'd like to this this is still the best Ocoee River Rafting Guide available. That said feedback is always welcomed and this is a constant work in progress.


I began rafting whitewater when I was young during the early 1970 with my family. We had several of our own rafts between my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. My family loved playing in the water; I grew up rafting, sailing, and surfing. As I grew older and technology improved I began to get serious about kayaking and creek boating as well. I became an ACA certified kayak instructor and have shared the sport with countless others over the years. Living along the banks of the Green River in North Carolina I have access to some of the best world class rapids to hone my skills.

During my long off-season from rafting I primarily travel solo through Latin America. Ecuador is likely my favorite country to visit but I also enjoy Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico. Working as a river guide in the southeast during summers in North America I don't earn a lot of money and live close to the federal poverty level. In spite of this I live a rich life on a frugal budget. If you would like to learn more about traveling in Latin America or maybe some frugal travel tips visit Fast Fred Travels.



Curious about how I can travel so light or what I use on the river? Want to know more about the gear I carry abroad on my extend trips in Latin America or while rafting and kayaking? Here's your chance to dig into my Amazon shop for an inside look. If you make purchases via this shop I will get a very small commission but it will not increase your price what so ever.