Caney Fork - 1. Clifty Bridge to Bee Creek

Caney Fork, Tennessee, US


1. Clifty Bridge to Bee Creek (Caney Fork Gorge)

Usual Difficulty III-V (for normal flows)

Lead-in rapid to Devils Kitchen (small photo)

Lead-in rapid to Devils Kitchen (small photo)
Photo of Caney Fork Whitewater by Marty Montana taken 12/2002 @ 1.6

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Caney Fork
virtual-6555 510 - 2500 cfs III-V 00h37m 89.5 cfs (too low)

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.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2013-01-19 02:56:57


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
1.0Devil's Kitchen

Rapid Descriptions

Devil's Kitchen
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.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
December 4 2018 (43 days ago)
clay wrightDetails
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
December 4 2014 (1504 days ago)
simonkrzych (155765)
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.
May 1 2014 (1721 days ago)
clay wrightDetails
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?).
January 29 2012 (2544 days ago)
Alex ZendelDetails
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:
September 26 2009 (3399 days ago)
x (1)
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.
February 18 2009 (3619 days ago)
Alex ZendelDetails
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!
December 13 2008 (3686 days ago)
Alex ZendelDetails
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
April 28 2008 (3915 days ago)
x (1)
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.
April 7 2008 (3936 days ago)
Alex ZendelDetails
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!
April 7 2008 (3936 days ago)
Alex ZendelDetails
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.......
March 22 2008 (3952 days ago)
Alex ZendelDetails
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!
March 9 2008 (3965 days ago)
x (1)
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.
March 2 2008 (3972 days ago)
x (1)
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:
March 6 2007 (4334 days ago)
Curtis ElwoodDetails 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.
March 5 2007 (4335 days ago)
Alex ZendelDetails
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.
November 17 2006 (4443 days ago)
clay wrightDetails
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.
July 24 2006 (4559 days ago)
Erik AmasonDetails
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?
February 21 2005 (5077 days ago)
clay wrightDetails
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

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' -
December 7 2004 (5154 days ago)
Corey VoltDetails
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.
December 6 2002 (5885 days ago)
clay wrightDetails
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