Little Stony Creek - Little Stony Falls to Hanging Rock


Little Stony Creek, Virginia, US

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Little Stony Falls to Hanging Rock

Usual Difficulty IV-V (for normal flows)
Length 3 Miles
Avg. Gradient 270 fpm
Max Gradient 300 fpm

Little Stony Falls


Little Stony Falls
Photo of Dave Blanding by Ryan Petering taken 03/07/04 @ High

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
POWELL RIVER AT BIG STONE GAP, VA
usgs-03529500 800 - 5000 cfs IV-V 02h29m 149 cfs (too low)


River Description

Little Stony offers just about every creeking scenario there is. It has ledges (BIG ledges), slides, difficult boulder gardens and is continuous for pretty much the entire 3 mile run. The run drops about 780' for an average gradient of 260' fpm. Better have your ducks in a row for this one. Ain't nothing worse than unorganized ducks.

From the put in near the parking lot the creek doesn't look that menacing. The water is flowing along a rock bottom and flows over a series of small slides for about a 100 yds before the proverbial bottom falls out.

--- LITTLE STONY FALLS ---

Little Stony Falls is a 28 vertical waterfall that lands in a large pool. The pool is about 10? deep so penciling is not a bright idea. This drop has broke ankles and backs so have your mind right before you attempt it. To run set up in the river right eddy above the drop. The lead in is a slide that angles slightly to the left. Maintain you bow straight or slightly to the right but stay in the center of the drop. People launch and land this one at every conceivable angle but keep in mind that it is more shallow on the left and running left has the tendency to make people pencil in.

Next up is an 11' ledge that is usually run on the left. The right side is vertical but very shallow at the base. Boof as far out as you can roughly 5? from the left bank. You will land on a clapper(shelf) about 6' down. If you launch out far enough you will land on a slope and slide the remainder of the drop. Low water will probably mean
that you won't get an optimum launch, so brace yourself and don't sit up straight.

Just around the corner is Big Falls of Little Stony. This 35-40 footer is pretty spectacular looking. Due to its massive width the flow isn't concentrated, which results in a shallow pool. The water at the base of this thing is probably only 5-6' deep. It has been ran but no description will be given here. If you?ve got the skill for this one, you shouldn?t need this guide. Note that only 3 people have run the Big Falls. The best portage spot is a
couple of hundred feet upstream on river left but if you've gone too far you can still get out 30-40' above the falls on the river left bank.

You have now made it down 1/6th of the creek. The rapids between the ledges have been pretty tame to this point but this is where the ledges end and the last rapid begins. Well at least it seems like one rapid from here to the take out at Hanging Rock. This is the beginning of the first of two boulder garden sections that is broken by the occasional slide. Be wary of pinning spots and strainers. A large stream coming in from the left tells that Turn Signal is right around the corner.

Turn Signal is a steep twisting drop into a roostertail of water slamming off a ledge on the right bank. Ride the roostertail off the ledge to miss the undercut rock on the left. After this paddle the boogie water down to the interesting part of the run.

--- MANHOLE ---

The boogie water you just paddled will lead you into probably the toughest boulder garden on the run. The first significant rapid is Manhole. This rapid is named for the large manhole size sieve at the crux move. It can be portaged on the left. To run it enter either right or left to avoid the shit rocks. As you approach a horizon line you will enter a 10' wide channel between two boulders. Here's the crux. BE left of center or center. You are now less than a paddle length from a sieve big enough for you and probably your boat. Definitely no place to be. Boof left over the 5' ledge into the eddy. Now your ready for the Chessboard.

--- CHESSBOARD ---

If you carried manhole keep on truckin' around the Chessboard. This rapid has hotter moves than a three balled tomcat. This rapid has several must make moves with plenty of pinning potential and undercut rocks. The entrance is on the right, the biggest move is in the middle and you finish in the center. Look this one over good. Many carry this one and most everyone do at high water. Your about halfway through.

Now it's time for a little fun before the finale. After Chess Board the creek lets up for just a moment and then its on to the slides.

The slide section is one of the more enjoyable sections of the creek. There are several slides with the most notable being Peel Away. This is a long slide that begins with the creek heading left then steepens as it turns right. The best way to run this one is begin in the center and go far left when the creek turns back to the right. There are a few holes to punch as you go down this section and then a large hole at the bottom.

As the slide section ends the second boulder garden section begins. Just because you're 2/3rds of the way down, it doesn't mean the action stops. This section has several notable rapids that are reminiscent of something off the Green Narrows. This sections is roughly a mile long so don't let your guard down until the creek starts to flatten out right before the Hanging Rock takeout. The last rapid on the run is a real doozy. It has a pinning spot backed up by a significant slab of rock. You can get out anywhere upstream on the left and walk down the little road to your car. If you chose to run it and all goes well get out on the left and carry your boat 30' to your shuttle.

This run is tough at low water and has several recommend carries at high levels. The 2 boogie water/boulder garden sections mentioned above are solid class IV punctuated with class V and V+ drops. If you've never been here before and you're not with someone that is familiar with the run you should hike the trail that runs along the entire creek and scout.

Overall the run is not terribly undercut but there are a lot of logs and numerous spots with pinning potential.
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2010-01-21 01:22:33

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Rapid Descriptions

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User Comments


2011-09-15 09:43:49 (1164 days ago)
Skinny (153505)
Unfortunately the wet snows from winter 2010 loaded up this gem w/ big wood. Even the streamside
trail is obstructed. It will likely take a flood and a multiple seasons before this run goes again.

2008-11-18 05:23:48 (2195 days ago)
tucker deloachDetails
I dont think i quite understand your question. But if your asking when someone is going to run the
falls or the creek just wait for a big rain.

2005-03-31 18:06:54 (3523 days ago)
James DentingerDetails
As of 3/27/05 most of all of Little Stony Creek has been cleared of strainers. The exceptions are:
the lower portion of Chessboard, which contains two large ill-placed strainers, which necessitate a
portage. They will be cleaned out at some future date when the water drops sufficiently to safely
wade in with a chainsaw. Directly above the rapid called 'Manhole' is a blind, hard left turn
lead-in drop. While cutting, a ten foot portion of a strainer log fell directly into the main line.
It 'should' wash out with higher flows but it may simply migrate down into Manhole and create
another hazard. Be sure to scout here. At the island rapid bear left down the high water channel.
The stream course around the right side contains several strainers too dangerous to cut out at this
time. A tree fell across the creek in the top part of the first big slide (Peelaway). At present
there is enough room to safely slip under, however, the crown of this tree is hung up in hillside
rhododendron so, with gravity and time, this will become an ill-placed strainer too. Fortunately
this is easily boat scouted from the river left eddy just above the drop. Finally, the cobble bed
outflow at Little Stony falls has seriously eroded down and broadened out, resulting in a shallower
pool to land in. Be careful here to land only on the distinct aerated boil at the base of the
falls.
GENERAL DISCLAIMER: Because trees will fall logs will migrate with higher flows, have someone hike
the creekside trail (only 2 miles) back up to the falls putin while setting shuttle. This creek is
notorious for ill-placed lumber.

2004-06-07 12:52:01 (3820 days ago)
J.E.B. HallDetails
Ran it 3 times with Chris Harjes and Scott Harke on 6/5/03. Little Stony Falls might be the best 25
footer in the south east. The big one,however, is tough. It is an honest 30ft. drop. Hucked it on
my first two runs. Definitely a one of the harder waterfalls to maintain a good angle on that I
have run. Harjes ran it on our second run and clipped something about half way down. Needs good
water to merit me becoming a repeat offender. Great creek.
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