Difficulty III-IV
Length 6.3 Miles
Flow Range 3500 - 10000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 41 minutes ago 51.8 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 02/12/2019 11:31 pm

River Description

Lower Crooked Fork is a great intro-creeking run.
Many people who feel apprehensive about running the upper section choose to only run this section, while others will run both the upper and lower sections. The run starts with an easy drop over Potter's Falls into a deep pool, with Lower Potter's Falls just downstream (and worth a scout and likely portage for many). The next mile is class III with a few scattered class IV rapids. The next 2-miles is class II-III, but don't think the action is over, because the final mile is the river's final descent into the Emory River gorge. This final section includes class III rapids with a few class IV's. The remainder of the run is a 2-mile paddle down the Emory River to the take-out at Camp Austin.

Creek-boats and open-boats are recommended for this plateau gem but, a play-boat could be an option on a high flow day.

Articles and web links:
Potter's Falls made the front cover of the Summer, 1973 edition of American Whitewater Magazine.

The Crooked Fork Tennessee Paddle Page

Camping Options:
Camping can be found in the nearby Obed Wild and Scenic River area at the Rock Creek Campground located at the Nemo Bridge. This is the take-out for the Lily to Nemo section of Clear Creek and the Obed Junction to Nemo section of the Obed River.

Probably the closest campground is found in Frozen Head State Park. It's only a few miles away offering not only campsites but also hiking trails to some cool waterfalls.

Rapid Descriptions

Potter's Falls

Class - III+ Mile - 0

This 15ft waterfall is one of the easiest to run in the Southeast. Though it can be run almost anywhere, the common line is in the center over a small curler which lines you up for a rock finger. The extreme right side of the landing zone is shallow. Caution: The center line is easy to boof so watch your landing.

Other information on Potter's Falls.

Lower Potter's Falls

Class - IV Mile - 0.1

Many people portage this drop while others run it clean. Gauge should be 4 ft or higher to run this.

Caution: The right side of this drop is generally unrunnable. The boulders in the center of the river are severely undercut.

Drop off the left side of this 8 ft ledge sideways landing flat on your side bracing in 2-3 feet of water. Then, slide down a short slide for a final 4 ft drop into a pool.

You'll see a big boulder in the center of the river half way through the drop with a big pillow on it. Not only is this undercut, but its actually 2 rocks forming a sieve with wood jammed in it. There is a third boulder as well, just to the right and it is undercut in a BIG way! Strong/gutsy/confident boaters peel out of the eddy ferrying right into the center and across the face of the pillowed rock into an eddy. This is a pretty cool move.

Other information on Potter's Falls.

The Next Mile

Class - III+ Mile - 0.2
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The next 3/4 mile of Crooked Fork is a series of scattered class 3 rapids. All of which can be boat scouted.

The Class II Section

Class - II Mile - 2
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The next 1.5 miles is when the water takes a break. You'll think this run is over but the final punch is yet to come.

The Surprise Hole

Class - III+ Mile - 3.04
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After a lot of class II action, the river makes a left turn along a cliff on the right. Drop off into a hole as close to river-right as possible due to a rock that awaits your center line. This is the start of the final mile to the Emory.


Class - III Mile - 3.06
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This rapid is also found against a river-right cliff as the river turns left. It's a series of holes to punch with a washout into a large pool. However, the washout is into a river-right cliff that is very undercut. Keep left at the runout!

Divided Highway

Class - III Mile - 3.97
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This rapid is divided by a large angled/sloping rock. The left line offers a runout into an undercut rock with teeth sticking out. The right line is run by sliding off the right side of the angled/sloping rock.

3ft Ledge

Class - III Mile - 4.05
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This is a small ledge that lands on a rock shelf at lower levels.

The Last Ledge

Class - IV Mile - 4.08

With a nasty undercut left bank, this 4 ft. ledge drop can be run two ways. Either boof over the hole in the center, or bang down the right side over some rock ledges. Caution: The hole seems to feed back toward the river-left undercut.

Confluence with the Emory River

Class - II+ Mile - 4.3
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Much of the next 2-miles will be flat. (Look for some waves if the Emory is running high.)

Camp Austin Bridge Take-Out

Class - I Mile - 6.32
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Take-out on the right.


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Robert Martin
11 years ago

One of my favorite runs in the Obed System. I wouldn't do it lower than 3.4' and if you do it that low you will be doing some knuckle walking, but still worth it if you've never done it before. 4.0-4.3 is a good level for the intermediate first timer. The river at the put-in bridge gauge is very narrow and a few inches on the gauge don't make much difference at Potters Falls. The highest I've run it is maybe 4.4' on the upper part and 5.5 on the lower part. We have run it as low as 3.4 more than once.

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Brandon Hughett
14 years ago

Posted for Karl Whipp:

Karl Whipp 2005-01-17 15:54:31
"Exiting the pool (below Lower Potters), stay river left and catch an eddy. You?ll see a big boulder in the center of the river half way through the next drop with a big pillow on it. You want to peel out of the eddy ferrying right, into the center and across the face of the pillowed rock into an eddy. This is a pretty cool move. I think the rock may be undercut, so don?t take it too lightly."

Not only is this undercut, but its actually 2 rocks forming a sieve with wood jammed in it. There is a third boulder as well, just to the right and it is undercut in a BIG way!

Be careful out there.

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robert martin
17 years ago

That's the river left portage at Lamance Falls decribed above. Sorry!

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robert martin
17 years ago

Although the river left portage is more difficult it does have certain advantages. You can catch the eddy on the brink of the drop for a cheap thrill and then carry through the woods, lower your boat 10' or so, then scramble down holding on to roots. This sets you up to walk under the waterfall. When your under there notice the crumbly layer of oil shale that erodes much faster than the harder rock overlay, creating the undercut. Cool!
The huge rock monolith down stream of the plunge pool was once the top of the falls. During the flood of March 1929 (195,000cfs@Oakdale) the rock broke off and was hurdle downstream and burried in the gravel, pointing to the sky and leaning slightly upstream as if bracing against the flood.
Enjoy the scenery here. The rock garden below is a mess of breakdown detrius that has no rythm or reason.

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Chris Bell
17 years ago

I am posting this comment for Karl Whipp:

Crooked Fork - Us 27 to Camp Austin, III-IV (V)

We ran this fun little stream on 12/15/02. The US27 bridge gauge was about 4.2. This was a fun level, but I would like to see it at about 4.5 - 4.7. 4.2 was a little bony with lots of screw-ya rocks in the boulder gardens below Lamance Falls and I would have liked to see a little more cushion at Lower Potters Falls. Other than the above mentioned, it was a pretty good level.

If you don?t already know this, the water quality pretty much blows on this creek. Just a heads-up and a plug for Coca-Cola. Coke will kill darn near anything you may swallow.

Gage Descriptions

The Crooked Fork gauge is on the downstream side of the US Hwy 27 bridge at the put-in. 3.4 ft. is getting low while 5.0 ft begins to get pushy. If the Emory River Gauge is reading 3500cfs or more then Crooked Fork will probably be running.

Directions Description

Shuttle Directions:
The put-in is at the Potter's Falls Bridge. From Wartburg, Tennessee go south on Hwy 27 a few miles until you see the Crooked Fork Bridge and the sewage treatment plant on the right. Cross the Crooked Fork Bridge going south 0.1 miles and make a right on the first road to the right. There is an Armes Chapel Missionary Baptist Church sign at the road. Go 0.9 miles and make another right, which is the first blacktop road on the right. (There is another Armes Chapel Missionary Baptist Church sign at this road.) Go another 0.8 miles and turn right at the next road.
The Potter's Falls Bridge and put-in is 0.4 miles down the hill.

Put-In to Take-Out at Camp Austin:
Go back across the Potter's Falls Bridge and up the hill 0.4 miles and make a left. Go 0.8 miles and make the next left. Go 0.9 miles till you come to US Hwy 27. Turn right and go south 4.8 miles to the junction of S.R. 328. Make a right following the signs to Oakdale.
Go 3.7 miles and make a right on S.R. 299 at a convenient store.
Go down the hill 0.2 miles and make another right just before you cross the Emory River Bridge in Oakdale.
The Take-Out at the Camp Austin Bridge over the Emory River is 5.3 miles.

There used to be an alternate shuttle route to the Camp Austin takeout but it is now blocked.

No Accident Reports






Brandon Hughett


mark cumnock


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1200955 04/02/18 Rob reset coords (which were WAY off)
1211118 02/12/19 Rob updated image position
1191532 03/16/08 Brandon Hughett n/a
1198241 09/27/10 mark cumnock added link