Doug paddling the Mini Gorge.

One of the many joys of living in the southern Appalachian Mountains is the year-round perfect paddling weather and the abundance of high-quality whitewater within a short drive of Falling Creek.

Recently, Ben Williams and Doug Koziol explored Big Hungry, one of the main tributaries of the famous Green River. Doug is a recent graduate of Western Carolina University and has provided excellent paddling instruction at Falling Creek during the past two summers.

Big Hungry drops into the Green River gorge over a series of slides and tight boulder garden rapids and provides paddlers with a wonderful burst of whitewater.

Ben paddling a slide on the Big Hungry.

The highlight of this run is the Mini Gorge that contains five rapids in quick succession. The river goes from 40 feet wide to roughly five feet wide and stays that way for a quarter mile, all while dropping 50-plus vertical feet. With the steep gradient and the prolonged narrowness, the river forms sticky holes and breaking waves that test the skill of paddlers.

After the Mini Gorge, paddlers arrive at the confluence of Big Hungry and the Green River, where smiles and whoops of joy are often heard as groups celebrate a successful descent with wonderful friends, amazing scenery, and rapids that test both the mental and physical skill of the paddlers.