Middle Ocoee River Guidebook by River Guide Fast Fred

Middle Ocoee River Guidebook

This Ocoee Guidebook is Intended Primarily for Raft Guide Trainees

Introduction to Raft Guiding 101

This Ocoee River Guidebook for Raft Guide Trainees is geared towards rafting the basic lines and learning the names of rapids. Many first year guides struggle learning the rapid names and lines. This Ocoee Guidebook is intended as a training manual or cliff notes to help trainees aspiring to become rookie guides on the Middle Ocoee. Most guides and raft companies apparently exaggerate the class rating of rapids. The ratings you find below are the actual International Scale of River Difficulty ratings of Middle Ocoee rapids according to the leading authority American Whitewater for normal flows between 1,200 and 1,600 cubic feet per second. Some rapids do become more difficult at higher flows. Commercial trips are not permitted to put on above 3,000 cfs.

The first video presented is a safety video pertaining to a known and avoidable hazard. The remaining videos presented feature basic raft lines with different crews and different times of day. I ran five trips on the day of filming. Rapids are presented below in the same order you will encounter them on the Middle Ocoee.

Rule Number 1: Don't Die. Rule Number 2: Don't Kill Anyone Else.

Safety First! Aviod preventable hazards for you and your guests. Carabiners Can Be Dangerious! Filmed on Upper Ocoee 2016

Use locking carabiners and learn the proper way to use and carry them to reduce risk. Watch this video of a very senior guide having a very close call. If you watch closely you will see Mike being accidentally clipped in after a hard hit in Godzilla. He almost flips in Humongous but narrowly avoid disaster. He threw away all of his non-locking carabiners after this trip. It took another raft guide nearly a minute to remove the carabiner from Mike's green jacket. This could happen to anyone using unlocked carabiners!

Middle Ocoee Raft Lines and Videos

Middle Ocoee guide training generally begins with ride alongs to learn the river. Learning the rapid names in one of the first tasks. Private boaters often have the advantage of being able to read water. Local river knowledge is also a plus. Whitewater rafting guide jobs seldom pay much even with tips but there are some perks.

1st Rapid: Grumpy's Ledge

Class III @ 1,200 - 1,600 cfs aka Snow White

Tips: Make a nice controlled peel out from the ramp eddy. Then ride the current to the left of White Face Rock. Continue following the wave train to the Tongue through Grumpy's Ledge hole; note the guard rocks pointed out in the video.

2nd Rapid: North Shore

Easy Class III

Easy boogie water just follow the flow gradually working from left to right.

3rd Rapid: Staging Eddy

Easy Class III also includes Power Flow a great surf spot for hard boats

Raft trips eddy out on river right near the gauge stick to regroup. Multiple surfs are available.

4th Rapid: Gonzo Shoals

Class III shallow with multiple gate rocks

Pay attention to the shallow gate rocks in the entrance of Gonzo. As you pass the good luck rock set your angle right and ride the current to river right.

5th Rapid: Broken Nose

Class III+ 1200-1600cfs shallow approach

Tips: Be aware of the shallow rocks in the approach. Meet the seam square at the S-wave maintaining your left boat angle right draw stroke (lefties will pry stroke) as you drop to the breaking wave. Keep your paddle in the water driving at all times. Avoid Coffee Break Rock and keep raft perpendicular over both ledges. If you are out of control have your guests get down.

6th Rapid: Second Helping

Class III great splash potential to please guests

Weaving through rocks and getting a good splash at Second Helping. Watch for the many shallow rocks especially at 1,200 cfs releases.

7th Rapid: Dragon Slayer

Class III aka first ledge of Slice and Dice

This ledge is located 50 yards or so above Washing Machine. Multiple surfing opportunities abound if time allows.

8th Rapid: Slice and Dice

Class III offset ledge holes

Washing Machine can toss the unwary. Trainees should hit the holes square with momentum.

9th Rapid: Moon Shoot

Class III super fun and great place to spin

It is possible to enter this rapid in front or behind Elephant Rock; if you have a really weak crew consider the right line behind the Elephant. Spin on the eddy line or at least use the eddy line to avoid pinning to the left of Butt Crack Rock.

10th Rapid: Double Suck

Class III contains stickiest hole on Middle Ocoee

Two primary routes converge before drop. If you surf keep your paddle in the water and maintain control.

11th Rapid: Hell's Half Mile

Class III bad place to swim.

Shallow and swift current so recover any swimmers quickly.

12th Rapid: Double Trouble

Class III photo ops

Angle your raft right for best photo opportunities while crossing the standing waves.

13th Rapid: Jump Rock/Left Right Left

Class II Jump rock is more a place to regroup or swim than a rapid

Easy just start left and follow the flow.

14th Rapid: Squeeze Play

Class III fun class three boogie waves

Several great waves to splash sideways. Follow wave train to enter Flipper with minimal effort.

15th Rapid: Flipper

Class III fun class three boogie waves

Several great waves to splash sideways. Follow wave train to enter Flipper with minimal effort.

16th Rapid: Hollywood

Class III surf spot followed by swim area

Catch the eddy on river right to join the queue to surf.

Doldrums aka Official Swimming Hole for Guests

Improve your odds of a good tip; be knowledgable. Learn about the local history of the Copper Basin and Red Clay. Take some time on your Tuesdays and Wednesdays to visit Red Clay State Park, Nancy Ward's grave, ruins of Caney Creek Village, Ducktown Basin Museum, and Museum Center at 5ive Points. Also know about the best places to eat, camp, and lodge in the area to answer your guests' questions. Cleveland and Chattanooga have great restaurants, breweries, and attractions. Many like the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park are free and require no ID.

17th Rapid: Hiwassee Shoals

Class II pay attention while telling bad jokes

Class II but shallow rocks abound! Start middle and follow the water to the right as you weave the gate rocks.

18th Rapid: Sneaky Pete and Surprise Ledge

Class III Careless guides can flip here and make carnage reel! Oh the shame!

Look for Gene Simmons Tongue to set up for Sneaky Pete. Your line at Sneaky Pete will often determine your line at Surprise.

19th Rapid: Table Saw

Class III+ Maybe best ride on the Middle Ocoee!

The approach to Table Saw though calm and slow can be tricky especially at low water with plenty of rocks for the unwary to pin or stick upon. Hit the breaking wave square (you will need left angle) with a little momentum. Keep your stick in the water and drive raft. Otherwise you may hit prudential rock.

20th Rapid: Diamond Splitter

Class III

Lines to the left and right of entry rock and Diamond Splitter Rock. Witches Hole is a direct line from Table Saw and provides great splash opportunities.

21st Rapid: Western Flyer

Class III

Good splash is possible here. Look for small breaking wave hole in left of wave train.

22nd Rapid: Dixie Drive

Class III aka left or right

Note the two potential pin rocks in middle of Dixie Drive rapid responsible for the rapid's alternative name Left or Right

23rd Rapid: Swimmers

Class III

Some companies allow guests to swim here. Be aware blast rocks along right bank are sharp. Don't pin on Runners Rock aka Your Fired!

24th Rapid: Accelerator

Class III aka slingshot

Spin the raft clockwise for best results using right eddy line. Watch for Humpty Dumpty that can flip or splash a raft just right of the wave train in the run out.

25th Rapid: Cat's Pajamas

Class III aka Torpedo

Several nice ledge holes with a playful hole at bottom. Some guides dump truck here in the deep water. Beware some companies forbid guides from such antics.

26th and 27th Rapids: Hell Hole and Powerhouse

Class III

Be aware of debris in river left of Power House. I like to point the raft hard right as I hit the first standing wave of Hell Hole to make Power House easier to set up.


I can often be found playing or working on the Ocoee River in East Tennessee. I current guide at Ocoee Adventure Center.

If you find this guide helpful please consider donating a beer! I may create an Upper Ocoee River Guide as well based upon the feedback and beer I receive.

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