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Playspot: USA, Tennessee, Ocoee River, Hell Hole
What's it like
The last rapid on the Ocoee is Hell Hole. It is a surfing wave with a hole immediately behind it. Depending on where you measure the hole it is about nine to eleven feet wide. The best way one can describe the hole is more of a wave with a decent foam pile. The release level dictates the stickiness (see below). It will never be so sticky as to hold you indefinitely (it will kick you out if you ride it wrong). Anyhow, you can do almost any rodeo move in this hole, although it takes some practice.
You can enter the hole from good eddies on either side.
You can also surf the front wave, which can be entered from the eddy on river left, do green 360's and fall into the hole for part two of your ride. This front wave is also excellent for wave wheels.
The Ocoee has regular releases. They begin on a few weekends in March. During June, July, and August the river has releases every day of the week except Tuesday and Wednesday. Releases usually end the last weekend of October (October release is usually weekend only). For details, see the Ocoee Release Schedule.
Minimum for playing is 900cfs. Normal release is about 1250cfs. With each additional 100cfs the hole gets better (stickier) until it eventually washes out (at about 2500cfs).
See also Flipper.
How to get there
From Chattanooga Tennessee, going north on I-75, take highway 64 east. Follow 64 to the Ocoee, which will be on your right. The put-in and take out are very well marked along route 64. The river runs alongside the road. If you just want to paddle at Hell Hole, it is right next to the powerhouse near the take-out. You can park alongside the road, but your car must be within the white line. If it is not it will either be hit by a truck, ticketed or towed. There is additional parking at the 2nd take-out past the powerhouse which is about 0.6 miles downstream from the hole.
Your kayaking career would be missing something without having waited in line at Hell Hole. It is crowded, depending on the time of year (usually summer). It should not matter if you play your way down the river. That way you are tired and waiting in line is sort of rejuvenating.
Ocoee Rodeo, normally in May.
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