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

301 - Reading Water: Ocoee River Hydrology and Hazards
by experienced kayaker and river guide Fast Fred Ruddock

Ocoee River Whitewater Hydrology and Hazards

Hydrotopography (or "The art of using watery features to your maximum advantage") ~William Nealy

This course material should be helpful in understanding how to read water. Additionally this material shows you what is under the water line. Expect future articles about reading water and looking for signs.

I am developing this 301 - Ocoee River Hydrology and Hazards information with the intention to help other boaters and guides avoid tragedies. While I hope to convey the nature of these hazards these videos are no substitute to taking the time to inspect them in person yourself at low water. I will certainly return to these locations to further investigate. 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.

Mikey's & Alien Boof Hydrologies and Hazards

Mikey's is the first Class IV rapid encountered on most Upper Ocoee or Full River commercial rafting trips. The alternative would be Alien Boof. However most outfitters avoid this rapid due to a dangerous cave and sieves present. The cave at Alien Boof killed an experienced Ocoee River guide and well known Class V private boater. Both Mikey's and Alien Boof are rated at Class IV at levels run commercially. Commercial rafting trips have 3,000 cfs cut off. CFS stand for cubic feet per second. If you are interested in the hydrology and hazards at Mikey's and Alien Boof follow the link to see my video.

Alien Boof's Deadly Cave

Blue Hole Hydrology and Hazards

Blue Hole much like Mikey's is rated at Class IV are level commercially rafted. Blue Hole was named long ago be local that used it a swimming hole after it became dewatered by TV. You can swim through the rock and caves on weekdays to see for yourself why or watch my video below to learn more.

Blue Hole viewed from above

1996 Olympic Course Hydrology and Hazards

Most of the Olympic Course is rated Class IV. Callihans, Godzilla, and Humongous deserve Class IV ratings. TVA designed and constructed the Olympic Course for the whitewater slalom events as part of the 1996 Olympic Games held in Atlanta Georgia. As a result most hazards have been removed or filled with concrete. Additionally features were added to enhance the course. The river bed was significantly narrowed so as to require less water. TVA was concerned about losing water that could be used to generate power. See my video below to see the difference between this part of the river and the previous rapids.

Olympic Course Hydrology

Broken Nose Rapid Hydrology and Hazards

Class III+ Broken Nose Rapid on the Middle Ocoee River explained. Get an inside view at low water between releases in this video. Despite hype and lies to the contrary this rapid is not class IV at levels legal to raft commercially. See the rocks that form useful features and those that create hazards. Improve your odds as a rafter by choosing and requested a knowledgeable guide. Remember to tip your guide. We work hard to keep you safe and take care of your family. So take care of your guide.

Broken Nose at low water

Table Saw Rapid Hazards and Hydrology

Have you ever seen the hole in Prudential Rock at Table Saw Rapid on the Ocoee River in Tennessee? Ever wondered if you could swim through the sieve? This video examines Table Saw rapid sans water. See the rock features and hazards present. Look underwater through the sieve. See the scary tree near the exit to the sieve. Whitewater rafting isn't all fun and games; it is a serious sport and requires focus and effort.

Table Saw Sieve

Closing and Feedback

This Hydrology and Hazard Series is just beginning. I plan to add more rapids and revisit exisitng rapids. Your feedback and requests will impact the future of the section on my blog.

A lot of experience, time, and effort went into this Guidebook. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. If this information helps you check out please consider leaving some love in my Tip Jar or buying me a beer when you you see me out in the Ocoee River area. I am often seen at Mexico Loco, El Rio, or Buck Bald in Copperhill Tennessee. See you on the 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.