Doe, Tennessee, US
2. Gorge: Blevins Bridge on Bear Cage Road to Highway 19E bridge at Hampton High School
||III-IV (for normal flows)
Toaster Slot by Daniel Fosbinder
Toaster Slot by Daniel FosbinderPhoto of John Webb by Daniel Fosbinder taken 03/02/03 @ 510 cfs
Lat/Longitude data are very approximate.
A great class III+/IV run that is a bit more difficult but not quite as continuous as the Little
River (Sinks to Elbow) in the GSMNP. The Doe has several technical rapids requiring good boat
control, especially Body Snatcher and Flagpole. Wood and debris are always a major consideration
on this run, especially if it has been a while since it last ran or since your last trip. Good
scenery, although there can be some trash that may wash into some areas due to development
upstream of the gorge. Water quality is pretty good especially considering said upstream
development. Much of the Doe runs through private land, including some owned by the DRG Christian
Camp. Bank scouting has never been a problem, but in the first and last miles it is recommended
you stay in your boat as the river flows through a few backyards.
There are several class III+ rapids in the gorge, with Body Snatcher and Flagpole solid IV's
at water levels over 500 cfs, Diagonal Ledges also reaches class 4 around 700cfs. The area around
Body Snatcher is pretty congested, requiring a tight eddy turn, ferrying back across the river
behind huge boulders, a class III rapid with a hard right turn at the bottom, and ends with a
five-foot drop into a pool.
Slot" should be scouted before running to make sure there are no logs at the bottom. You
can scout from the river left bank easily. Enter this rapid on river left, headed towards the
Entering the slot, John Webb disappears. If you want a front view, Rob McVie shows how it's done
is an easy drop, just make sure it's clean before you run it. Alan Meyer-Davis gives a
Notice his paddle angle ... it can get hung if you hold it horizontally when dropping in.
After more class III, a major congestion appears, with a huge boulder blocking the entire middle
and a blockage on the right side of the river. River left will look clear, so head that way,
catch an eddy, and scout Body Snatcher from the river left bank.
Enter Body Snatcher against the river left bank. The current is pushy, so immediately turn back to the right
and eddy out
behind the rock you just came around. From here you can ferry to far river right to line up for a
slide, but there is a bad piton rock at the bottom of the drop. The cleaner line is straight over the
middle of the rapid, boofing the ledge.
Run down the
middle, making a right turn at the bottom and head for the big eddy against the river right
wall to set up for the final drop of the rapid. A hole can develop at the base at higher flows, so ferry out
high, get some speed, and angle left as you go off the drop.
The final rapid of any real size is Flag Pole, a bumpy, rock-filled rapid that pours into the
river left wall and curves to the right as it bounces down for 20 yards or so. It's easy to
scout this rapid from the center island. A diagonal hole at the top just begs you to drop in so
it can surf you
river right. To avoid the hole, enter the rapid tight against the river left wall, and
work towards the
middle of the rapid, taking care not to fall off into the far river-left seam. At the bottom
you can line
up for a super-sweet boof over the final ledge.
The Doe is comparable to the Lower Little River(TN) in difficulty, although slightly more
congested in some areas, but not as continous. There is calmer water after every major rapid, but
has a great deal more strainer hazards. Again, please note that at levels above 1000 cfs the Doe
is very continuous, more similar to the Cheoah at 1500.
Scout all rapids you can't see the bottom of as this river can be heavy with strainers.
Almost all rapids can be boat scouted, although scouting "Body Snatcher" from the river
left bank is advisable. Two major piles of trees exist in the river, the first one located as you
come around the bend 1 mi. downstream from the put-in. This clogs the left half of the river. The
river right route is "Bear Cage" rapid and should be scouted for log jams before
running. You can do this from your boat. The second major pile is located midway through the run
and also occupies the left half of the river. Be very careful here, leave plenty of time to make
your way past, as the water here is always very shallow and it's easy to get off line.
Pinning possibilites abound on the Doe, especially at water levels below 500 cfs.
A creekboat is nice but as long as there is a little volume up front, any kind of boat should be
able to make the run. Shorter canoes in experienced hands are good to go also. Use your judgement
here, paddle what you are comfortable in.
Put-in and Take-out:
The put-in for the Doe run described here is reached by taking US 19E to Bear Cage Road just
outside of Blevins, TN. There is a bridge on Bear Cage Rd with parking for a few cars. If there
is no space, do not block the dirt driveway. This is private property, the landowner is
very gracious, but understandably not appreciative of boaters blocking access to his property!
Shuttle vehicles to the take-out, where there is plenty of parking. The take-out is back on US
19E where the bridge crosses the Doe River near Hampton (north towards Hampton.) Some use the
area immediately downstream of the 19E bridge, but ample parking is available on the upstream
side of the bridge in the grass field at Hampton High School (be mindful of changing and post
boating activities as this is school property).
Hampton/Blevins TN are located in the very Northeastern tip of Tennessee. If the Doe seems too
tame or if you're looking for more action, the Watauga Gorge is just a scant 25 minute drive
from the take out and is almost guaranteed to be running if the Doe is. If the neither the Doe or
Watauga suits you, then some serious class 4-5 micro creeking can be had on the Laurel Fork of
the Doe which is about 10 minutes away. When water is plentiful, ambitious expert paddlers
familiar with all the runs may attempt the Carter County Quattro which consists of the Doe Gorge,
Laurel Fork of the Doe, Watauga, and Twisting Falls section of the Elk; this is definitely not
for the faint of heart!
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Last Updated: 2014-12-18 14:39:18