Citico Creek, Tennessee, US
1. Indian Boundary to Below Pigs in Space (Upper Citico)
||III-IV (for normal flows)
White Rabbit!Photo of James Gose, Karl Whipp, Justin Hines and Garren Stephens by Ken Parish taken 2/2002
The Upper Citico is a tight, fast little creek set in a beautiful surrounding. Making a trip here
is not wasted if there isn't enough water because the Tellico is just a few
minutes back down the road.
With a put-in at the bridge just below the confluence of the North and Citico creeks, the
whitewater picks up immediately. This is mainly a class III+ run, but it's constant, with
steady gradient and rock-filled rapids.
The Citico begins with class II-III boogie water as it bends to the left, setting you up for the
first section of rapids. The first big rapid can be broken up by eddy-hopping through it, or you
can turn it into a hundred yards of non-stop slides, ledges, and boogie water.
Next up is a small horizon line that turns out to be just a long, easy slide. A bend to the right
bumps you through more boogie water, and then the action begins to pick up again. Hug the river
right wall for the next rapid which goes around a large boulder situated on river left, blocking
your downstream view. This boulder is undercut, and trees are usually stuffed into the front of
it. Stay right all the way down. This rapid looks worse than it is, but stay alert. A few more
smaller rapids brings you to another horizon line with three slots that look runnable. Far right
is the best option at lower levels, boofing off the rock and into the pool below. At higher
levels (when the Tellico is over 4 feet) then the middle line is the way to go.
The river leaves the road for a bit at this point, but class II-III water is all that awaits.
After losing sight of the road and paddling down a stretch of class II-III you will come to a
sharp bend to the right. Eddy here and scout this next rapid. A big rock situated left of center
creates a hole that you should avoid. Left of the big rock and off the curler wave is the hero
route, but paddling hard right will get you past it as well. After this is calmer water, but
there is one major rapid left. Be on the lookout for Pigs In Space (IV), the biggest single rapid
on the Upper Citico. It sneaks up on you quick. The best way to tell that Pigs is coming is
this...you will be in calm water, just having finished a class III section above, when downstream
you notice the river starts dropping quickly over some ledges. River left will look like the best
route, and you'll notice the road will start climbing above the river and there will be huge
rocks used as a retaining wall below the road. Unless you're ready to run Pigs In Space, get
out to scout before you get into that next section or you're running it blind. The Forest
Service road can be used to scout Pigs In Space and to set up safety if necessary. The best way
to run this rapid is staying river left, bouncing through the class II-III entrance. Ahead you
will notice a very large boulder on the left and a small horizon line. At lower levels you can
run the meat, but at higher levels it's recommended you catch a tongue of water between the
offset holes. Note that there are two undercuts here and set safety accordingly. Pigs In Space
shouldn't be taken lightly when the Citico is cranking, but it can be run safely. After
you've gotten through the mess at the top, you still have a powerful hydraulic to punch at
the bottom, or paddle hard towards the river left side and avoid it all together.
Shortly downstream from Pigs you will go through Doublecamp Creek campground, which you'll
recognize when you go under a bridge. If you want to run the upper section again, Doublecamp
makes a good take-out spot.
Again this is followed by class II-III water, with no real consequences (provided you don't
flip!). About 3/10ths of a mile or so below Doublecamp you will see a river wide ledge. This is a
4 foot high rapid that can be run about anywhere, scout if you're unsure. Just around the
corner from this rapid there was a dangerous low-head dam until it was removed in the fall of
2015. Props to American Rivers, the US Forest Service, and US Fish and Wildlife Service for
taking the dam out! As you continue downstream eventually you'll pass under a bridge, with
more class II-III water carrying you downstream. When you get to the second bridge after the dam,
you will encounter a small ledge aptly named Takeout Ledge (III) because this is the normal
takeout for the Upper Citico. A takeout here makes the run a little over 4 miles. If you continue
downstream, more class III water awaits.
From Tellico Plains head east on Highway 165 out of town and at mile 14.4 turn left onto FR 345
towards Indian Boundary. In 1.3 miles you'll make a right turn on FR 35 following the sign
for the Citico. This road winds 2.4 miles down to the river. Once you reach the river you can
turn to the right where the road crosses the river at a low water bridge. At higher flows water
flows over this bridge and level is determined by how much water flows over the top of the
bridge. You can continue about 2 miles downstream to Doublecamp Campsite or if you want to add a
couple more ledges head 4.5 miles to roadside Campsite 9. Runs continuing downstream are possible
and it's easy to pick your access from one of the several roadside pullouts.
The take-out is reached by following 36 down the Citico until it intersects with Forest Service
road 26 (about 4 miles down from the put-in.)
It takes about an hour and 45 minutes to two hours to reach the Citico from Knoxville, TN. If
it's not running, the Tellico is right back down the road.
Nearby runs also include...
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Last Updated: 2015-10-19 19:19:05