Guide to the Tennessee Mountains
By Vernon and Cathy Summerlin
Rapid Classification System
The following rapid classification system is designed by the American Whitewater
Affiliation. If the ambient temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or if
the trip is an extended one into the wilderness, the river should be considered
one class more difficult than normal to allow for the fatigue factor.
- Class I: Moving water with a few riffles and small waves. Few or no obstructions.
Suitable for beginners.
- Class II: Easy rapids with waves up to 3 feet and wide, clear channels
that are obvious without scouting. Some maneuvering is required. Suitable
- Class III: Rapids with high, irregular waves often capable of swamping
an open canoe. Narrow passages that often require complex maneuvering. May
scouting from shore. Suitable for intermediate
- Class IV: Long, difficult rapids with constricted passages that often require
precise maneuvering in very turbulent waters. Scouting
from shore is necessary, and conditions make rescue difficult. Generally
not possible for open canoes.
Boaters in covered canoes and kayaks should have
the ability to Eskimo roll. Suitable only for boaters with advanced skills.
- Class V: Extremely difficult, long, and very violent rapids with highly
congested routes, which should be scouted from shore. Rescue conditions are
and there is a significant hazard to life in the
event of a mishap. Ability to Eskimo roll is essential for boaters in kayaks
and decked canoes. Suitable
only for boaters with advanced skills.
- Class VI: The difficulties of Class V carried to the extreme. Nearly impossible
and very dangerous. For teams of experts only after
close study has been made and all precautions taken.
Published (print): 1999, Published (Web): January 2003,