Difficulty III-V
Length Miles
Gauge Caney Fork
Flow Range 510 - 2500 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 44 minutes ago 12.9125 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 01/29/2019 8:33 am

River Description


Scott's Gulf Road to the Bee Creek confluence is now graded and graveled to within 200 yards of the bottom thanks to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. A great debt is owed to the Friends of Scott's Gulf who worked to ensure that the property has been protected. Additional information on the Caney Fork River take-out at Bee Creek, the Scott's Gulf Road access, and the Firestone-Bridgestone Centennial Wilderness can be found at Scott's Gulf.
There are no managed hunts for deer and turkey from December 2012 through April 2013 that will impact access to the Caney Fork/Bee Creek take-out. Discussions are in progress that would not restrict access for kayakers during managed hunts.
The Caney Fork has a little of everything from play holes to ledge drops to fun boulder garden rapids. The put-in is at Clifty Bridge accessed off Hwy. 70 near De Rossett/Pleasant Hill (consult your Gazetteer). The first 3/4 mile is a flatwater warm-up. After a couple of easy rapids and past the trailer homes on river right, you come to Trailer Trash, a series of two very friendly wave holes that can be surfed until you are whopped or disoriented. Several Class IIIs follow that lead up to the top of Devil's Kitchen (Class V) where a distinct horizon line is a warning. See the description of Devil's Kitchen below. Scout and carry on river left. Immediately below Devil's Kitchen is a rock/boulder garden that we call Junk Yard (Lots of broken ledges, small bolders, and assorted collected debris). It loves to hang logs so pay attention. A consistent line that usually works is to start left side and keep working all the way left in the first part and then work from left to center to make the last drop in the center.
There are a number of Class III-IV ledges and boulder garden rapids that continue through a stretch that includes the beautiful Copper Cascades tributary that comes in from river right. Below Copper Cascades you will encounter a tighter more boulder garden section that has several nice Class III-IV rapids. After this you will reach the first lengthy pool. This is just over half way down the run. There is a trail that can be accessed at the end of this pool near a side stream. Follow the Polly's Branch Trail up and out of the gorge to access the Scott's Gulf Road or the Eastland Road.
The river continues with numerous boulder gardens and ledge drops. After about 8 miles you will reach a tighter gorge with large polished boulders on the banks and in the stream. This section has several fun rapids with a bigger water feel. The last big rapid is Eye of the Needle. The main flow is in the center through a slot between boulders and then over a ledge drop angling back to the left. Following this rapid move all the way across to river left and run the rock garden below. A large pool signals the junction with Bee Creek. The take-out is on river right just below the Bee Creek junction.

Rapid Descriptions

Devil's Kitchen

Class - Mile - 1
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
The lead-in to Devil's Kitchen begins with a series of Class III-IV rapids that is recognized from the first real horizon line on the run as the river pinches in on river left. At the end of the lead-in a left-to-right move is made over a small ledge. The pool above the main drop is a good place to get your final line on the main drop in Devil's Kitchen. The big drop is a double drop that begins with a 6 foot slide right of center. Then the boater must move to the river left side to miss the "bad" hole on river right and execute a boof in the second drop finishing off by punching the bottom hole. Looking back up from the bottom, you know you have done some boatin.

Comments

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clay wright
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8 months ago

Recent floods opened up the river from brush, couple new rocks in play but nothing major I noticed. Branch sticking out of bottom left side on Hell's Kitchen, easy to miss but scout if low water in case it's connected to something. . New log in narrow slot at the bottom of ''first hallway'' - easy to see from above and miss to left. Road better than usual but last right turn too rutted and rocky for low / SUV type vehicles, can walk up from bottom in about 20 minutes on road or blue blazed trail up from campground. Dec 4 2018

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Simon Krzych
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4 years ago

Caney Fork: Quality boulder garden class 3-4. It starts with a nice slide (if you scrape good on the slide its pretty low flow), Then there is flat water for about the first mile. When the boulders start it gets steep pretty fast. I remember a hand full of class 4's throughout the run and lots of class 3 boogie, feels like over 50 rapids throughout the whole run. It is continuous, with small pools and lots of rapid’s, the longest pool was just before the takeout. The shuttle takes about an hour and 10 minutes depending on how long you spend 4x4ing to the takeout (about 20 min of class 3+ driving). This run would be a big day for U and crew, it’s a long run (13 miles) and there are lots of technical rapids. It would be doable with a more in depth safety setup than we usually employ.

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clay wright
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5 years ago

There is a tree in one of the last rapids (big bounder chutes down the right) marked with orange tape you can see from the top. Surfed 'Trailer Park' wave in Todd Town at 3.8' and it's one of the best surf spot in the area. A glassy wave above a hole with steep shoulder. Loopable from 3.3 up. Even at 2.2 there is some fun play to be had at the ''Todd Town loop'' section from just upstream of the trailers to around the next bend where a jeep road brings you back up (with one right turn) to the car. We timed a run from Todd Town to takeout at 62 minutes in long boats. That's the fastest I've done and the level was not high (1.6?).

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Alex Zendel
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7 years ago

I've been tracking the correlation between the Clifty Bridge (put-in) gauge and nearby online gauges. Here is the resulting spreadsheet that I will update every time I hear of a Clifty level or see it with my own eyes: bit.ly/w8kZej

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9 years ago

Use the gauge with caution in the early fall. We found two significant caves in the river bed that combined took 2/3 of the water. After the long pool, we lost all of the water entirely. We had to hike out 4.5 miles, only to find great flow coming out of Bee creek. The gauge was reading 832 cfs at the time and the bridge gauge had debris on it. I can't wait to get on it at a better level, it is a beautiful run.

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Alex Zendel
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10 years ago

Another data point for the gauge correlation. 'LiqiudO' on Boatertalk reported the gauge at Clifty at 2.1. Near that time, the Calfkiller was 5.8 and rising pretty fast and Daddy's was just under 1000 and also rising pretty fast. I bet the Caney Fork was rising too, but that's just speculation. Wish I didn't have to work tomorrow!

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n/a
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10 years ago

Playboaters: The 'Trailer Trash' hole makes great park n play at levels of 2.8 and higher. Sessions from 3.0 to 3.4 have generated huge loops, helix's, Mcnasty's - every trick in the book. Downstream there are some good waves - one is really fun down to 2.2 and others rise up at higher flows. You can walk out on the jeep road to the right at a big flat pool, then fork right back to the Todd Town access point or no-shuttle fun.

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Alex Zendel
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10 years ago

I think it's safe to say that this week was the first week that the Caney Fork ran after a long, droughty summer and fall. Then came two back-to-back storms that dropped a total of roughly 5 inches of rain at the nearby Crab Orchard rain gauge, enough rain to bring Island Cr up to 3 feet (but that's a different story). I was a bit nervous that some of the caves into which the Caney Fork sinks during dry periods had not fully filled up - and that we'd lose some of the flow somewhere between the put-in and the take-out. If we lost any flow today, it wasn't noticable. The level was 1.55 on the Clifty Bridge AND the US 70 bridge, which, IMO, is on the low side of good. Daddy's was running about 1000 cfs and dropping somewhat slowly and the Calfkiller was just below 5.5 and dropping rather quickly. We forgot to check the gauge at the put-in when we picked up the car ... I guess the beer from the nearby Watering Hole Bar/ 'take out beer store' started taking effect. Until next time! AZ

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11 years ago

Here's another visual to post to better the correlation between the CF and the Calfkiller and Daddy's. A well-know, pro, and local boater reported 1.15 at Clifty Bridge ..... it was a 'low pfd' (personal first descent). I think most people would consider this to be way too low, but the point of this post is to improve the gage correlations and not to argue about ELF levels. Daddy's was at 325 cfs and rising fast. Calfkiller was at 5.0 and rising fast. The Caney Fork had run regularly this spring, but the past 3 weeks had been relatively dry.

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Alex Zendel
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11 years ago

Ran this stretch for the first time on Jan 6, 2007 at 1.4. It felt medium-low (but plenty sufficient) and it seems to me that the gauge probably hasn't changed since the recommended optimum of 1.6 to 1.8 was posted on this website. A NOTE ADDED AT A LATER DATE: after several more runs on the Caney Fork, it now seems to me that 1.4 is getting pretty low. This is a pretty run with a strong wilderness feel to it. At 1.4, it felt a lot like the Watauga without the falls and a slight, but significant notch down in difficulty. It's a classic plateau run geologically which translates to classic plateau whitewater. It doesn't lack shallow, low-angle slides and rapids at the top, then turns to mostly boat-scoutable, but long boulder gardens for the remaining 80% of the run. There was wood in the approach to the Kitchen that could be snuck to the far right and the road to the takeout was passable to high clearance vehicles. This is undoubtedly a place I want to see again and I look forward to the next time. Have fun!

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Alex Zendel
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11 years ago

I didn't paddle it this time, but somebody posted a visual on Boatertalk. When they reported 1.9 feet (assumed to be the gauge on the Clifty bridge and not the US 70 bridge), the Calfkiller gauge was at 6.0' and dropping steadily and Daddy's was at 900 cfs and also dropping steadily. Three and a half hours later, they reported 1.4 (a big drop!). At that time, it looks like the Calfkiller was at 5.8 and Daddy's was just over 800. As you can see from my recent posts, the Caney Fork had been running regularly over the past two months or so. I hope this information helps.......

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Alex Zendel
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11 years ago

Got on this run almost 2 weeks to the day later. This time it was 1.55. It was a great level for the Kitchen, though 3 people in our group got surfed in the hole on the left just above the bottom hole .... none of us ever thought anybody would ever get surfed there. One person was in there for a solid 30 seconds and had at pull a front ender --> piroutte to get out. But all of these guys just tried to float through the finish line ... and got served. The rest of the run felt kinda low, but still sufficient. Daddy's was in the mid-low 700's and dropping moderately fast when we left the house and the Calfkiller was 5.7 and dropping steady. I'm looking forward to the next time!

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11 years ago

We ran this on 3/9/2008 and the gauge at Clifty was at 1.7. Excellent level - plenty padded out but not pushy .... except for Devil's Kitchen. Daddy's near Hebbertsburg was just over 950cfs and dropping steadily and the Calfkiller was at 5.5' and dropping slowly. There had been a huge rain event 6 days before and a smaller rain event (.5 - .75 inches of rain) two and a half days before.

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11 years ago

Bankfull on Boatertalk had this to say about the CF drainage and the run's response to rainfall. Very useful: It has somewhere around a 200 square mile drainage (50% bigger than Watauga). If if wasn't for all the karst around, it would be the Tennessee Class 4 staple. But the last months of the year are usually spent filling all the massive cave systems. But once the system is filled up, 1/2 inch can do it every time. If daddys hits 500 or more and the Calfkiller is at 5.5 feet or higher, game on. Calfkiller is really the best barometer for the run, as it has a similar drainage and has the same karst issues. When you see 2 inches at De Rosset and the calfkiller doesn't budge, you know things aren't filled in yet. But once it starts holding at around 5.1 - 5.3, a half an inch widespread will do it every time. Here's a link to the DeRossett rain gauge that shows the past 6 days: http://amazon.nws.noaa.gov/nexhads2/servlet/CreateDCPChart?nesdis_id=244B32BC&nwsli=DERT1&minimumdate=6&maximumdate=0&location=Precipitation+Data+For+DE+ROSSETT+RAIN&pe_code=DERT1PC

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Curtis Elwood
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12 years ago

http://www.rivers-end.org/curtis/Caney_Fork.mov Here's a little video from this weekend. It's about 3 min, 9mb. I threw it together quickly. The one camera underexposed the video quite a bit, and upping the exposure in post-production made it look grainy, but it looks better than it originally did. Rich from St. Louis and Andrew from Nashville shot the video while Paul (TeamELF) and Kemper set safety. I'm surprised at how flat the rapid looks from Rich's angle, but the angle Andrew had made it look almost as steep as it is. The tree move definitely adds some pucker factor. The music isn't for everyone, but it's what was in my head when I was editing it. Might turn the sound off or use headphones if you're at work. Hope you enjoy.

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Alex Zendel
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12 years ago

Be aware of possible vehicle damage at put-in. We paddled this stretch on 3/3/2007 and there were several ATVs driving back and forth across the river just upstream of the ledge at the put-in. About 1/2 mile downstream, we could hear the ATVs on the river left road and saw some debris that was kicked up by their tires land in the river. When we were later unloading my friend's truck that was parked on river left at the put-in, we noticed a few small bumps/dings on the side of his truck. Daylight on the next day revealed more damage to the body and windows. Our best guess is that the damage was caused by debris kicked up by ATVs and/or motorcycles that are frequently tearing up the earth at the put-in. I recommend finding another place to park.

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clay wright
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12 years ago

New Wood nov 18th 06 between approach and Devil's Kitchen on left all the way to center. We snuck far right, but manky pin spot mid right makes it possible walk.

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Erik Amason
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13 years ago

Do any of ya'll know of a runnable aprox. 40-45 footer on the upper upper Caney Fork beyond Sugar Creek, has it been run or this section?

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clay wright
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14 years ago

3.3
It's even bigger, and we need some new gage to go higher. Trailer-trash hole was sweet for loops and the waves below kept us busy much too long. This short stretch (put-in to 1/2 below trailers) would be a great park and play!

You can walk out to Todd Town rd.

Walked Hell's Kitchen - approach makes it hard to find the tongue and the right is UGLY. Also walked 2nd to last big one, where you normally hit a boof on the left and there is a sieve on right: awful hole center and tough to stop above it. Many, many big fluffy rapids (8' waves common) some big holes to miss, and knowing the clear channels through the trees was a real plus. Probably the closest thing to your typical BC boating on the East Coast (without the vert wall and waterfalls).

Ran from Hell's Kitchen to TO in 1 hour10min including 2scouts. Would have played more if we had the time.
2700 on 'virtual gage' -
CW

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Corey Volt
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14 years ago

If your paddling the caney fork know how to get out of there if something goes wrong. If something goes wrong right away there is a small trail on river right that you can hike up to a trailer park this is a good option all the way into devils kitchen after devils kitchen then next option is about 1.5 miles down stream at clifty creek Its about 2 miles to the bridge on the road you run shuttle on. the walkin is easiest on river right of the creek staying high for the first 3/4 of a mile then dropping down to the creek bed you can paddle across severl large pools by then your getting close to some old logging roads on river left follow the logging road until it crosses the river again and then walk/paddle up the last 1/3 mile to the road.(I know this from experince....there may be an easier way to get up it may be easiest to follow the creek bed all the way) the third option also starts at clifty creek. There is a walking trail that ends there and starts at the take out its about a 4 mile walk from clifty to the take out.
hope these may help someone someday.
CV

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clay wright
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16 years ago

3.0 run success! (Obed 12,000, Collins 4000)
Good waves whole top mile and great loop
hole by trailer-park on river right (3/4 mile into
it). Walked Hell's Kitchen due to swirly
approach, playboats, &freezing temps but
holes blown out - just huge.
This level requires committed boat-scouting,
big water hole avoidance, cross the river
scrambles due to midstream forests of trees,
and a wary eye for last-chance scouting
eddies. EJ estimated 2000 at put-in. Scott
Fidel called it 'Brittish Columbia class 4+". I'd
say Lost Paddle at 3000 with trees growing
all in it - for miles. Lots of 'catch on the fly'
surfing - all those pesky undercuts buried.
We spent 2 1/2 hours - some play, but racing
darkness. Walking out would suck - plan on
3-4 hours.
Clay Wright
Nov 15th 2002

Gage Descriptions

The gauge for this section is a staff gauge located on an old bridge abutement approximately 30 feet upstream on river left of the Clifty Bridge. In the fall of 2005, the staff gauge had been either washed away or vandalized. I have recently installed a new staff gauge in the same location. The current gauge should be equivalent to the old gauge level. A level of 1.2' is considered minimum and the passage might be hard to find but holes at the bottom of the ledge drops will not be sticky. The easiest level is 1.6' to 1.8'. At this level it is not too scrapey and the drops are not sticky. At 2.1'+ it becomes a river with waves and holes but fewer rocks to dodge - far less technical. Some call it pushy and say the ledges get sticky, but only Devil's Kitchen and 3-4 other rapids get harder.   At the levels above 2.8'  continuous rapids, wave-holes and encounters with trees are significant hazards and the run becomes class 5 due to the lack of pools and abundant trees in current.   Check out descriptions of high runs by Clay Wright below.
The Virtual Gauge is based on the two closest electronic river gauges (Daddys Creek and the Obed) in close proximity to the Caney Fork watershed. The virtual gauge works best after a consistent blanket rainfall. The virtual gauge is only a tool to assist in making a judgement on the Caney Fork flow.   Please submit the time, date, and staff gauge reading on your runs. This will allow the correlation between the staff gauge and virtual gauge to be improved.
Virtual Minimum: 510 cfs
Virtual Maximum: 2500cfs
Correlation between the staff gauge and virtual flow:
1.2' = 510 cfs   minimum / summer desperate, wear elbow pads
1.4' = 610 cfs  
1.6' = 730 cfs   lines open up considerably
1.7' = 810 cfs
1.9' = 1000 cfs
2.1' = 1300 cfs
2.5' = 1650 cfs
2.8' = 2100 cfs  Good skirt and solid roll required.  
3.3' = 2700 cfs   Highest level run, way fun.  Trailer Park hole gets hard to leave

3.7' = 3600cfs    Trailer Park hole is a great wave up to at least 4.2'


Without the gauge, if water laps over the back of the large rock directly below the first ledge drop - it's a minimum level. If you can paddle right over the rock and boof the hole on the back - it's a medium level. If you wouldn't want to punch the hole it forms and the left sneak doesn't look scrapey - it's getting high.

Directions Description


We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

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Chuck Estes

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clay wright

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1191521 12/12/08 Chuck Estes n/a
1196126 09/24/09 Chuck Estes
1211025 01/29/19 clay wright updated image position
1201771 01/19/13 Chuck Estes