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Neither of the description links above are working. Anybody local feel inspired to put an actual description of the run into the description box? Best descriptions are in the comments but it could be consolidated into one.
Long busy day on Crab Orchard Creek! 1.7' according to someone. We moved FAST for 3 hours solid. If you haven't run it, 2-3mile class 1-2 paddle in with a log to portage (in flat water), 5-ish miles of winding ''guess which channel is clean'' class 2-3 boogie building to some fun class 3 with sweepers to dodge. Several ''push through branches around the log'' or side-lines that might = short portages at lower flow. After you get to the road-side section, there was a another couple mile section with fun waves to surf before the Emory. I can see doing just the lower section more often - less time, get to surf waves without the worry of wood, half day trip. Crab Orchard is best for experienced paddlers who don't like to scout or portage but like to get MILES of river running action into their day. I would consider a long boat but the Antix was fun on all the eddy lines, some splats too. The paddle down to Oakdale was 30 min and boring but plenty of current and short walk across kudzu to a takeout.
4-24-17. Put-in at noon. 2.4 feet on the bridge gauge at Flat Rock Ford. Cut-off is 2.5 feet per Whitewater of the Southern Appalachians by Kirk Eddlemon. A 2-volume must have, awesome book - go to http://www.wwsouthernapps.com to buy yours. USGS Emory River at Oakdale was at 18,000 cfs at noon. Harriman area received 4 inches in the past 2 days and Wartburg area 7 inches. Three massive waterfalls, a dozen plus smaller waterfalls and numerous micro-streams pumped more and more water in as the run progressed.
The high water and plentiful wood turned this normally II-III+ fabulous run into a solid IV, with relatively few eddies, always the danger of wood, and a few undercuts to keep you on your toes. The upper had numerous strainers, several river wide or 2/3rd's across the run if you took the wrong chute, or went the wrong way around a log jam or an island. Kirk nailed it with a 2.5 ft at the put-in as the cut-off. For the 3 magnificent waterfalls, we weren't able to catch an eddy to watch their splendor, but then this was essentially our 1st run on this creek (last run was 17 years ago at a lower level).
The 10.7 mile Crab Orchard Creek section has 9 miles (yes, 9+ full miles) of continuous, glorious whitewater. At this high level there were a multitude of drops and moves around boulders, munching holes, and numerous slides. In the lower section there were gigantic wave trains, crashing waves and hungry holes.
Due to how pushy the water was it was a constant read and run, with little opportunity to stop and get out and scout. In fact we didn't get out and scout, because where was that eddy when needed? I've heard that at upper levels the upstream rapids tend to wash out and the run isn't as much fun. All I can say is that at 2.4 ft, with all of the additional water coming in below on the run, that the rapids were great.
The upper section of this run is lined with thick mt. laurel/rhododendron making any hike out very difficult at best, and would you even know where to hike to in this remote area? The lower section has some rural homes and farms along the way. The scenery is fantastic.
It took 4.5 hours to run 13.7 miles, paddling only what was necessary to run the lines, including taking three breaks totaling over 45 minutes. The 3 mile run down the Emory took 20 minutes, without paddling! Wowser. What a wonderful 14th wedding anniversary for Chris and Renee Harwell!
BTW - Connie lives at the nice house catty corner from the take-out bridge in Oakdale. She keeps an eye on the cars, and worries when people don't return until late at night or are gone for a day or two. She likes to visit with the paddlers and asks that you leave a note on your car or with her stating what run you're taking and when you're expected back. That way she'll know when to call for help on your behalf as occasionally people do get into trouble on the plateau.
3-15-15 .8 on WMA road bridge gauge, ~5000 for emory at oakdale. The flow was low but very doable for the bottom section. We put on at Pine Orchard/ White Oak Road bridge (upstream river right side has a small grassy area), we took out at the wma access on Jacks Hill road at the confluence with the emory. G -canoe/ducky, Ct -ducky /canoe, EH -canoe, SW JJ and DS -raft, KC -kayak, MP -kayak. Even with the raft this section of river was totally doable. There were numerous fun surf spots even a few big enough for the raft. There was no worrisome wood on this lower section (but a bunch on the top half). Lunch next to Mill creek falls rounded out a great day.
10/15/14 crab orchard creek, flat rock ford to oakdale. 7000 cfs on the emory at oakdale gauge. We put on at the parking area on WMA road and you can see in the picture that we had low flow. We left our shuttle vehicle under the 299 bridge in oakdale and it seemed like it was an okay thing to do. you can break the run into sections and access the river at white oak rd/pine orchard rd bridge (we saw this from river level so i dont know about parking) or downstream where camp austin rd parallels the the river (easy access just downstream of the dream house on the river with the creek flowing through).
The rapids were a mixture of whites creek, the nantahala, and town creek (AL). Flat water to start with for a bit and then some good easy rapids and low angle slides. The longest rapid i remember was in this section and it was a long, wide open slide. Numerous class 2-3 rapids, even a class 3+ with a sieve on river right. I never encountered a "rock jumble to congested to run" (sorry Monte Smith) and the river mellows in its mid section with a few pools and some downtime. After the bridge there are many more class 2-3 rapids, these lack some of the technical nature of the early section. Mill creek falls is a notable beauty on river left, its worth getting out of your boat and walking the sort distance up to see. Not long after the falls the creek splits into channels as it approaches the emory, stay to the right (the river left channel had a few huge downed trees). The contrast from the tiny crab orchard to the big volume emory is pleasant, even at lowish flow there were wave trains and moving pools all the way to the take out. Overall this river is intermediate fun, with over 30 class 2-3 rapids and most can be boat scouted from above.
Wood was a factor throughout the entirety of the run. The wood was more worrisome than any rapid and is what necessitates intermediate skills. We encountered no less than 10 logs across the whole river, but we only had to get out of our boats a couple times. This being the first time it has run this season it will clean up with more rain.
Ran this yesterday with a Knoxville crew of Russ, Damon, Aaron, and Carl. Our first choice was Island Creek but not enough water. The most recent AWA comments listed here go back 9 years, but the strainer notes still sounded familiar. We putin at the concrete TWRA "slab" at the bridge. 1 foot was level, 12,000 to 13,000 and dropping. Two, maybe 3, river-wide strainers in the first 1 mile or so, but easy to see early and you have several options to portage on both river left and river right. Barbed wire strands on the river right portage area so just be reasonably aware if wearing dry suit. I can easily see why this is a good intermediate run. The gradient starts off very slow, then builds slowly, has a few (short) flat sections in the middle, and then finishes with even more gradient in the last 1.5 to 2 miles. Locals say (see Kirk Eddlemon's post from 2004) that the last two miles to the Emory (from the church down to the confluence with the Emory) are fabulous at higher water levels. My thoughts of the run: I recall, perhaps 4 to 5 miles downstream from putin, one solid class 3 rapid, we'll call it Studebaker Rapid, with a horizon line and boulders situated to make scouting from the water a bit dicey, so I walked down river right a bit to get a view. This AWA page has a link to Waldens Ridge Whitewater description with a couple of photos of this rapid from downstream; the photos are tagged "Photo by Stu Thompson" (Studebaker). There was another rapid in approx the middle of the run that had a small island upstream of a small ledge with a large, flat boulder just downstream of the ledge. Wouldn't be a challenging rapid at all except there was a long running across half of the river at that spot. We eddied-out behind the small island and grabbed a few small shrubs to hold ourselves in position and ran it river left side of the hole. This rapid sounded like Allen Brown's comment in Oct 2004-- the very last sentence; I agree with Allen, "This could really sneak up on you" best defense is have a capable leader and don't follow too close to the leader. The undercut rock cliff rapids, here and there, are easy to see from upstream, I think.
At this water level an intermediate paddler would, as the miles go by, be more and more challenged to move back and forth across the channel to choose the best or safest route all-the-while keeping a weather eye downstream for the next decision/move.I read someone's online account comparing this to the Nantahala but without all of the Nanny's pools. I'd agree with that. Beginners beware, you won't often have time to collect your thoughts because the next move is just downstream and with 8-9 miles you're going to have plenty of chances to miss a few moves and challenge your combat roll.
log jams at beginning of run are clearing out. we had to portage one jam and the second required a limbo maneuver. the emory gauge was running about 13,000 and the run was fun with lots of class 2/3 stuff. just below the bridge there was a great glassy wave to surf with an access eddy on either side of the river. we took out a few miles past the bridge and well before the confluence at one of the public access points so we did not have to deal with any land owner issues.
One of my favorite runs. Non-stop class III for 12 miles. There are two danger spots 1.) a couple of undercut cliff's on river right about 1/2 way down which are easy to miss with some skill at med. to low water At med. to high water river left opens up & they are fine. 2.)Jack Hill, landowner who owns both river left & river right of the last mile before the confluence w/ Emory. He is drunk, angry, and thinks a Kayaker stole his chainsaw. ( I was forced to hear the story after he blocked our car in as we used his land as takout. Yes we had permission from his wife & offered to pay $5. Apparently, his wife cannot grant permission on his land. Anyway, had we not been from TN & sworn our alledgence to Jesus Christ he was going to "blow up" our truck with dynamite he keeps around. Towards the end of the run you will see a pretty side waterfall on river left. This is the beginning of his land on both sides, so shut up & do not get out of your boat.) Also as of 09/18/04 there are 3-4 riverwide log jams in the 1st mile which is the 1 mile flatwater section. Not dangerous, but difficult to get around. Also as of 09/18/04 there is a strainer blocking the right slot of a class III in the middle of the run. The left slot is fine, but this really sneaks up on you.
This run is the best play anywhere when the Emory is at 40,000 and higher.
Robert Martin contributed:
At the put-in is Flat Rock Ford. If there is a foot of water going over the ford, then it is near minimum. There is a gauge at the bridge just above the ford. One foot is minimum. Correct me if I'm wrong--I've only run it once.
Permits are not required for this reach.
To find the put-in, take exit 340 off of Interstate 40 onto Airport Road. Go 5 miles and take a left on WMA Road. This turn is just past a convenient store which is a great place to get a last minute snack or beverage. Go 1 mile down WMA Road and the TWRA Flat Rock Ford put-in will be at the bridge as you cross Crab Orchard Creek.
To find the takeout, reverse course to Airport Road and turn left. You will come to the community of Oakdale where you'll cross the Emory River. Immediately after you cross the Emory River Bridge, turn left and you'll see a community park where you can park.
An alternate takeout is further up the tracks. Just continue up the Emory River and along the tracks past the community park for several miles. You will come to the Emory River Bridge at Camp Austin. Just before the bridge, turn left down the hill to the railroad tracks. You can park there. Once you run Crab Orchard Creek and end up on the Emory River, ferry across the river and hike up to the Railroad Tracks then walk a half mile up the tracks to your car. This railroad is a mainline and is very busy with train traffic so use caution.
It's safe to mention too that another online guide (WRWW) list a put-in further up stream of the normal put-in as being the main put-in. It's located inside the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area and adds several additional miles of flat water to the run. No one uses that put-in. The normal put-in for this run is at the TWRA put-in on Flat Rock Ford.
Low flow gauge
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