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 6.3 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 01h03m 1130 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 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.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-04-02 17:09:34


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+
4.0Divided HighwayIIIHazard
4.13ft LedgeIIIWaterfall
4.1The Last LedgeIVHazard Waterfall Photo
4.3Confluence with the Emory RiverII+
6.3Camp 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 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)

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. 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)
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 4.0)

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 4.1)

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 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)

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 6.3)

Take-out on the right.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
March 19 2009 (3590 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.