Mulberry Fork, Alabama, US
|Usual Difficulty||II (varies with level)|
|MULBERRY FORK NEAR GARDEN CITY, AL.|
|usgs-02450000||3.80 - 20.00 ft||III+||147d03h38m||8.41 ft (running)|
|From 8 to 12 feet and beyond, the Mulberry becomes a playboater's paradise. Over 12 feet, large waves form that are the best in the South. Gauge (Drainage = 365 sq.mi.) is at the put-in for this reach, thus should accurately show actual flow in this reach.|
Put In Information
Put in at the Garden City River Park, located on Old U.S. Highway 31 past the water treatment facility.
Take Out Information
The Birmingham Canoe club owns the take out at the end of Whitewater Drive in Hayden, Alabama. It's advised that paddlers use the changing rooms and don't trespass on nearby landowners property. Parking in the cul-de-sac outside of the BCC parking lot is also not permitted.
If the BCC parking lot is full, you must drive back towards the put in, cross the bridge, turn left at Short St (or 10th St) in town, left again on to 2nd Ave/River Rd/CR509 and drive 2.7 miles along this road on river right and park on the side of the road on the bluff overlooking 5-0.
Note on Flow Information
Locals understand the online gauge reads anywhere from 3.3'-3.8' higher than the actual river levels (marked on one of the old pylons of the US 31 bridge). At one time minimal flow to make the run was 3.8' on the online gauge which meant a level of 0.5' on the bridge gauge. The description which follows, as well as the flow information, is based on the online gauge.
Also, USGS moved the gauge further upstream two years ago and the new gauge does not correlate
100% with the old levels, however, the flow ranges have been updated on this page to accurately
represent the levels using the new gauge.
One of the most popular whitewater runs in Alabama, the Mulberry is a fun, wide play river enjoyed by both beginners and experts at different river levels.
Most paddlers prefer flows over 4.5'-5' when the surfing starts to get good, though you can still run it well below 4.5'.
The first mile is pretty tame. After the island things begin to pick up a bit. There are a number of play spots which come in at various levels. Below the island, the first good play spot is called Training Wheel. It's one of the most consistent features on the river at all levels. The next rapid is creeky and technical at lower levels, and full of waves and holes at high water - at higher water, some beaters affectionately refer to this rapid as 'seat-less chaps' (perhaps because of the wild ride you'll get if you do this one upside down or out of your boat). You'll know you are getting close to Lunch Stop when you see the rock cliff/bluff on river right. This is a great place to catch eddies, ferry, surf or practice your combat roll. After Lunch Stop is Mary's Hole, which is a great surf wave at levels of 4.8' and better. Last, but not least, is Hawaii 5-O. There are a series of shoals, which grow large wavetrains at high water, leading into the final rapid. 5-0 is another consistent feature on the Mulberry. It can be surfed at lower levels, just be cautious as it is extremely shallow at lower flows.
Note of caution: the higher the water, the bigger the wave trains and holes with very few eddies.
Alabama Cup Races
The Mulberry is the site of the Mulberry Fork Canoe & Kayak races held in February/March each year. For more information visit the Alabama Cup Races website: http://www.alabamacupraces.com/
See Alabama Whitewater for more information.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.0||Garden City River Park||N/A|
Stay to the right of the island.
Ledge drop rapid. Makes a great surf spot even at lower levels.
Easily identified by the rock cliff on river right, a great place to practice ferrying or combat rolls.
A couple of shoals are just above the surf wave. Even at low levels Hawaii 5-O is a great park and play spot.