Trail Fork - Boomer to USFS Border

Trail Fork, Tennessee, US


Boomer to USFS Border

Usual Difficulty V (for normal flows)
Length 1.8 Miles
Avg. Gradient 475 fpm
Max Gradient 600 fpm

View from the putin bridge

View from the putin bridge
Photo of "" by Keith Kugley taken 09/01/06 @ med-low

River Description

This creek is one of the best in Tennessee. It is the Road Prong's easier and smoother cousin, with matching gradient and a more channelized streambed.
Overall, it is amazing this creek was just now run (Fall 2006). First scouted in 1998 by Daniel Talley and Eric Ralston, the run was cleaned in Summer 2006 and first run a few months later.
The first mile is all bedrock and requires suprisingly little water to run. The last 3/4 mile is boulders and requires more water, since there are many pin spots and shallow dechannelized areas.
There are roughly 20 quality bedrock rapids of anywhere from 8 to 25 feet in gradient. There are three that definitely qualify as class 5, and most of the others are in the 4-4+ range. Still, the drops are right on top of each other with no breaks and this is a class 5 run for sure. This is a solid step up from Brush Creek. The third drop is a sketchy 16 foot off vertical falls with a must make tight line to the right. A portage trail has now been cut on river left, up and around the falls. A rope is now in place that will assist with the 25 foot descent back down to creek level. There is another rapid that has a tight turning pinch halfway down and another with a juicy pocket halfway down. The run has now been cleaned out, and excepting a possible portage at brown pants, there are no portages, unless something new appears. There is a wheelchair move to make through a log jam on the right below a 15 foot slide. There is also a sketchy slot cut out of another logjam on river left that is runnable, but cuation should be exercised. This is a few hundred yards above Penalty Box. There may be one log jam left in the few hundred yards above the takeout. We ran out of light on the final clean up day, so watch out down there. The quality stretch is all clean now.
All drops are runnable and only a few have serious consequences. The big theme is to watch for newly developed log jams and strainers. Hiking out is not an option, and the gorge walls are straight up in most places. The putin is on USFS land on a side road that goes to Boomer, TN. The takeout is currently not worked out, and it is advised that boater presence be minimal and low profile. Don't trespass and treat the locals with respect.
Page 29 in the Tennessee Gazeteer shows the run and the surrounding region.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2010-07-04 15:06:26


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0PutinIVPutin Photo
0.1Ernesto part one5.0Hazard Waterfall Photo
0.1Ernesto part two5.0Hazard Waterfall Photo
0.2Tree HouseIV+Hazard Waterfall Photo
0.2Bring Me My Brown Pants5.1Portage Hazard Waterfall Photo
0.4The Pinch5.0Hazard Waterfall Photo
0.5Rumble StripIVPhoto
0.6Plane RideIVWaterfall Photo
0.6BouncerIVWaterfall Photo
0.8Penalty Box5.0Hazard Waterfall

Rapid Descriptions

Putin (Class IV)

Putin bridge

Putin bridge

Launch right off a footbridge right into the first winding class 4 ledge.

Ernesto part one (Class 5.0, Mile 0.1)

Ernesto, first drop

Ernesto, first drop

its a 25 foot double slide. After a short low anlge slide below, part two drops out of sight.

Ernesto part two (Class 5.0, Mile 0.1)

Ernesto part 2

Ernesto part 2

The wood has been trimmed, but there is a nasty rock sieve at the bottom right. Be ready to charge back left above the bottom drop.

Tree House (Class IV+, Mile 0.2)

25 foot slide

25 foot slide
Photo by KK

Trees are growing out over the rapid, so stay right for a smooth line.

Bring Me My Brown Pants (Class 5.1, Mile 0.2)

Bring me my brown pants

Bring me my brown pants

This drop lands 16 feet on a rock on the entire left side, and only a tight drive to the right will spare you. It is off vertical as well, so too much boof will catch your stern. The run out is another problem in itself. A portage trail has been cut on river left, starting from the pool below Treehouse, and up and around Brown Pants. There is a rope that will facilitate the descent back down to the creek

The Pinch (Class 5.0, Mile 0.4)

Kirk in the pinch

Kirk in the pinch
Photo by KK

This slide drops around 20 feet on a bend to the left, and narrows down to a nasty pinch against the right wall. Ride the smooth slide high enough on the left to stay out of the nastiness before dropping back into the chaos below.

Rumble Strip (Class IV, Mile 0.5)

Just more bedrock

Just more bedrock

Run the right side of the island around the corner and after pinch. Boof center and be ready for the clap on the shelf 8 feet down.

Plane Ride (Class IV, Mile 0.6)

Kirk on a plane

Kirk on a plane

Contemplate the beauty of Trail Fork in a beautiful pool above before driving down the middle of this great slide. At around 17 feet, this drop has a converging current that bounces off the left wall to send you planing over the pool below. Eddy out or continue right into the next fun slide.

Bouncer (Class IV, Mile 0.6)

Keith below Bouncer

Keith below Bouncer

Straightforward and fun, this slide has the best line right down the middle, getting a big launch at the kicker halfway down.

Penalty Box (Class 5.0, Mile 0.8)
A little distance past Bouncer, there is a quality stretch of 3-4 bedrock and boulder boogie. Pull out on the left to hike down and scout Penalty Box. There is no eddy above it. The creek narrows to 3 feet wide and sluices through a crack 50 feet long with 15 feet of drop. Halfway down is a large recirculating hole with a bad pocket against the very undercut left wall. Just plug through and grab the outflow. A rope is good here.

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