Crooked Fork Creek - Potter's Falls to Camp Austin (Lower)

Crooked Fork Creek, Tennessee, US


Potter's Falls to Camp Austin (Lower)

Usual Difficulty III-IV (for normal flows)
Length 6.2 Miles
Avg. Gradient 40 fpm
Max Gradient 90 fpm

Tera running Potter's Falls

Tera running Potter's Falls
Photo of Tera by Tom Rennalls taken 03/16/08 @ 4.65ft Hwy 27 gauge

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03540500 3500 - 10000 cfs III-IV 19h27m 682 cfs (too low)

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 choose to run both the upper and lower sections of Crooked Fork. The run starts with an easy descent over Potter's Falls into a deep pool. You'll want to scout the next rapid, Lower Potter's Falls, from here also. The next mile is class III with a few scattered class IV rapids. Then, the next 2-miles is class II-III. But, don't think it's over because the final mile begins to drop again with 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

Shuttle Directions:
The put-in is located at the Potter?s Falls Bridge. From Wartburg, Tennessee go south on Hwy 27 a few miles until you see the Crooked Fork Bridge located at a 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 an Armes Chapel Missionary Baptist Church sign at this road also. 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.

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.


For more information please click on the link below:


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2010-09-27 16:54:27


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Potter's FallsIII+Putin Waterfall Photo
0.1Lower Potter's FallsIVAccess Portage Hazard Waterfall Photo
0.2The Next MileIII+
2.0The Class II SectionII
3.0The Surprise HoleIII+
3.9Divided HighwayIIIHazard
4.03ft LedgeIIIWaterfall
4.1The Last LedgeIVHazard Waterfall Photo
4.2Confluence with the Emory RiverII+
6.2Camp Austin Bridge Take-OutITakeout

Rapid Descriptions

Potter's Falls (Class III+)

Tera running Potter's Falls

Tera running Potter's Falls
Photo of Tera by Tom Rennalls taken 03/16/08 @ 4.65ft Hwy 27 gauge

This 15ft waterfall is one of the easiest to run in the Southeast. Though it can be ran most anywhere, the common line is run 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)

Lower Potter's Falls at 5 ft

Lower Potter's Falls at 5 ft
Photo of Wade Harrison by Mark Hammock taken 1999 @ 5 ft

Many people portage this drop while others run it clean. Crook Fork should be running around 4 ft or higher to run this one.
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.
Caution: The right side of this drop is unrunable. The boulders in the center of the river are severely undercut.

Other information on Potter's Falls.

The Next Mile (Class III+, Mile 0.2)
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 2.0)
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 3.0)
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.

Rollercoaster (Class III, Mile 3.1)
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 3.9)
This rapid is divided by a large 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 center sloping rock.

3ft Ledge (Class III, Mile 4.0)

This is a small ledge that lands on a rock shelf at lower levels.

The Last Ledge (Class IV, Mile 4.1)

The Last Ledge

The Last Ledge
Photo of Kemper Begley by Craig Rollins taken 04/12/03 @ 4.4

With a nasty undercut left bank, this 4 ft. ledge drop can be ran 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 4.2)
Much of the next 2-miles will be flat. Look for some waves though if the Emory is running high.

Camp Austin Bridge Take-Out (Class I, Mile 6.2)
Take-out on the right.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
March 19 2009 (3230 days ago)
Robert MartinDetails
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.
November 1 2005 (4463 days ago)
Brandon HughettDetails
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

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.
July 25 2003 (5293 days ago)
robert martinDetails
That's the river left portage at Lamance Falls decribed above. Sorry!
July 25 2003 (5293 days ago)
robert martinDetails
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
Enjoy the scenery here. The rock garden below is a mess of breakdown detrius that has no rythm or

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