Bald River - F.S. 126 bridge to Bald River Falls


Bald River, Tennessee, US

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F.S. 126 bridge to Bald River Falls

Usual Difficulty II-IV(V) (for normal flows)
Length 6 Miles

Daniel Fosbinder on Bald River Falls


Daniel Fosbinder on Bald River Falls
Photo of Daniel Fosbinder by Daniel Bailey taken 06/03/00

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
TELLICO RIVER AT TELLICO PLAINS, TN
usgs-03518500 3.50 - 4.50 ft II-IV(V) 00h46m 0.94 ft (too low)


River Description

Bald River is a tight creek complete with numerous strainers and jagged rocks in the streambed. This creek is hardly ever run, the shuttle is long, and hiking back to your car is not really an option (unless you're in for a half day of hiking).

Boaters running this creek should absolutely know where Bald River Falls is and allow plenty of time to get out so they do not wash into and over it!
There is a very obvious picnic area on river right with lots of flatwater to provide ample time to get out. Do not continue past this point. In doing so you can wash over Bald River Falls.

Bald River consists of a couple class IV/V rapids with tons of class I-II in between. This is an all-day venture, but what a beautiful trip!

PLEASE NOTE there is a pile of trees (beaver dam) that block the entire river about midway through the trip. This pileup could be run on river-right at high water but the safest choice is to portage. At higher flows one could be pushed into this pile-up quickly, so be careful. Be on the lookout on river right for lots of trees that are in the process of being downed by beavers. Just around the next bend is the major pile-up, take action accordingly.

Major Rapids:
Gran Torino (aka Fluke) (III+)
Shallow Falls (III+)
Suislide Falls (aka Buying the Farm) (V)
Doe (III)
Jumble (III)
Kahuna (aka The Big One) (III)

With a put-in at Forest Service Road 126 bridge, Bald River brings you quickly to a class II jumble leading to Gran Torino, a 3-4 foot ledge that bumps another 10 yards down into a sizeable, river-wide hole. This hole isn't anything at normal flows, but at high water levels it gets really nasty. Torino can be scouted by getting out on river left when you encounter the class II lead in. Gran Torino can be run down the middle, or river left, which requires some effort.

For the next several miles you encounter class II riffles and rock jumbles, strainers, and beaver dams. There is nothing major to speak of, but use caution at higher water levels.
Just when it seems there is nothing else on this river, a major horizon line appears and Bald River drops out of sight amidst a roar of water. Take out on river right and use the trail to scout Shallow Falls and Suislide. Shallow Falls had a tree blocking the river left line as of Feb. 2002, so you must bump down the right side. Going vertical off the falls will probably result in a good piton, so try and land a little flat.

A short pool after Shallow Falls brings you to Suislide, one of the nastiest-looking waterfall/slides/sluices you'll see. Suislide is a 25-30 ft slide, consisting of three ledges that form one big falls. River right against the reportedly undercut wall is the best line, but getting over there is tricky. A big rock blocks the entrance, requiring you to ferry over to the eddy behind this rock, just at the lip of the falls, with no room to spare. This also makes getting a good launch off the first ledge nearly impossible, since you have room for about one good paddle stroke when you leave the eddy. Suislide is a class V rapid, please scout carefully and portage on river right if necessary.

A short pool exists below Suislide to recover your breath (and maybe your gear.) Looking back up at Suislide and Shallow Falls forms one impressive sight.

Just after this pool is Doe rapid, as it resembles the river of the same name in east Tennessee. You can run Doe towards a large rock on river left, dropping into a groove just in front of it while making a 90 degree right turn to finish the rapid, or take a middle line and drop over the series of ledges to the bottom of the rapid.

After Doe there is nothing significant, until you encounter another small horizon line. This is Jumble, a pile of rocks that offers no clean line. Dropping over the first small ledge at higher flows can produce backenders, just enough to get you off the line you had in mind. Just left of center is the recommended route. River right has exposed rocks, and a pinning situtation can occur on river left.

After Jumble, a couple class II rapids will bring you to flatwater and a picnic area on river right. Take out here and hike your boats down the trail to the road. The next two rapids are waterfalls, just above Bald River Falls. Kahuna is the first of the two, and the only one that can possibly be run safely. Not taking out after Kahuna, or washing into the next waterfall after Kahuna will flush you over Bald River Falls!
Please use caution here, and take out at the picnic area.

If you have any other questions or comments, please email me.

danielfosbinder@gmail.com

 

When this river was written up, we could not find anyone who had ran it and had little information to go on.  Thanks to the website below you can see that some boaters discovered the joys of Bald River long before we did.  For more information please click on the link below:

http://www.waldensridgewhitewater.com/obed_emory/baldriver.htm


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2013-03-13 01:56:29

Editors


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.1Gran TorinoIII+Photo
4.0Shallow FallsIVPhoto
4.1Suislide Falls5.0Hazard Waterfall Photo
4.3Doe RapidIIIPhoto
5.5JumbleIIIPhoto
5.9KahunaIIITakeout Hazard Photo
6.0Bald River FallsPortage Hazard Waterfall Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Gran Torino (Class III+, Mile 0.1)

Rob McVie at Gran Torino

Rob McVie at Gran Torino
Photo of Rob McVie by Daniel Fosbinder taken 02/15/02 @ Tellico over 3 ft

3 foot ledge that bumps another 10 yards down into a sizeable, river-wide hole. This hole isn't anything at normal flows, but at high water levels it gets really nasty.



Shallow Falls (Class IV, Mile 4.0)

Rob McVie at Shallow Falls entrance

Rob McVie at Shallow Falls entrance
Photo of Rob Mcvie by Daniel Fosbinder taken 02/15/02 @ Tellico over 3 ft

River-wide slide, can be run on left or right side but watch for wood.  Trail on river right makes scouting easy.



Suislide Falls (Class 5.0, Mile 4.1)

Daniel Fosbinder at Suislide Falls

Daniel Fosbinder at Suislide Falls
Photo of Daniel Fosbinder by Rob McVie taken 02/15/02 @ Tellico over 3 ft

A very narrow 25-30 foot sluice on river right that lands in a good pool.  Scout from river right, good piton and/or pin potential here.



Doe Rapid (Class III, Mile 4.3)

Rob McVie entering Doe rapid

Rob McVie entering Doe rapid
Photo of Rob McVie by Daniel Fosbinder taken 02/15/02 @ Tellico over 3 ft

Run river left for a technical challenge or the middle line for an easy drop.



Jumble (Class III, Mile 5.5)

Daniel Fosbinder at Rock Jumble on Bald River

Daniel Fosbinder at Rock Jumble on Bald River
Photo of Daniel Fosbinder by Rob McVie taken 02/15/02 @ Tellico over 3 ft

Easy two drop rapid, consisting of a 2' ledge followed by a short pool before dropping over a broken 6' ledge into a rocky washout.



Kahuna (Class III, Mile 5.9)

Daniel Fosbinder at Kahuna

Daniel Fosbinder at Kahuna
Photo of Daniel Fosbinder by Rob McVie taken 02/15/02 @ Tellico over 3 ft

Two-tiered slide with large pool.  However, the unrunnable Bald River Falls is just a few yards downstream.  If you do not take out after Kahuna and run over the next ledge downstream you WILL wash over Bald River Falls.  This is a class III drop but will have serious consequences if you forget where you are or accidentally wash over the next ledge and into Bald River Falls. 



Bald River Falls

Daniel Fosbinder on Bald River Falls

Daniel Fosbinder on Bald River Falls
Photo of Daniel Fosbinder by Daniel Bailey taken 06/03/00

80' waterfall.  Unrunnable on river left, river right would be nearly impossible and lands into an extremely shallow pool with lots of rocks.  Please use caution when running the rapids above this waterfall, if you get washed into Bald River Falls it will almost certainly end in extremely serious injury or death. 

 

The lower river left tier (about 20' drop) can be run by hiking up to the ledge from below the falls and dropping into the pool below.




User Comments


2009-07-09 09:40:07 (1875 days ago)
x (1)
I enjoy the Holly Flats camping area in the top of the gorge. Trout fishing is excellent. Bring a
skillet and corn meal. Tim Mason

2006-08-01 14:10:11 (2948 days ago)
Kirk EddlemonDetails
I've found that the way to do this one is to hike from the bottom. You miss 4 miles of flatwater
and one good rapid. The other cool thing is you don't need shuttle. Its only like a half mile hike
up and you get 3/4 mile of river putting on a little ways above the cascade above suislide. Portage
suislide on the left and you can slide back into the last part from the left back to right. From
here its beautiful 3-4 untill the falls, which you can portage on the left with care and still run
the lower tier. Tony and I found this to be an enjoyable addition to the Ledges with little work.

2002-03-28 07:33:26 (4535 days ago)
Matt MuirDetails
Great photos and description, Daniel!
This is one awesome crick!
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