Crooked Fork Creek, Tennessee, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-IV (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||40 fpm|
|Max Gradient||90 fpm|
|EMORY RIVER AT OAKDALE, TN|
|usgs-03540500||3500 - 10000 cfs||III-IV||01h03m||1130 cfs (too low)|
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 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.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.1||Lower Potter's Falls||IV|
|0.2||The Next Mile||III+|
|2.0||The Class II Section||II|
|3.0||The Surprise Hole||III+|
|4.1||The Last Ledge||IV|
|4.3||Confluence with the Emory River||II+|
|6.3||Camp Austin Bridge Take-Out||I|
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
This is a small ledge that lands on a rock shelf at lower levels.
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.
Much of the next 2-miles will be flat. (Look for some waves if the Emory is running high.)
Take-out on the right.