Doe - 2. Gorge: Blevins Bridge on Bear Cage Road to Highway 19E bridge at Hampton High School

Doe, Tennessee, US


2. Gorge: Blevins Bridge on Bear Cage Road to Highway 19E bridge at Hampton High School

Usual Difficulty III-IV (for normal flows)
Length 5.7 Miles
Avg. Gradient 95 fpm
Max Gradient 160 fpm

Toaster Slot by Daniel Fosbinder

Toaster Slot by Daniel Fosbinder
Photo of John Webb by Daniel Fosbinder taken 03/02/03 @ 510 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Doe at Elizabethton
tva-de008 400 - 2000 cfs III-IV -03h42m 811 cfs (running)
Boatable Range
Doe at Elizabethton, TN
tva-a4681 400 - 2000 cfs III-IV 7y35d10h17m 160 cfs (too low)

River Description

Lat/Longitude data are very approximate.


A great class III+/IV run that is a bit more difficult but not quite as continuous as the Little River (Sinks to Elbow) in the GSMNP. The Doe has several technical rapids requiring good boat control, especially Body Snatcher and Flagpole. Wood and debris are always a major consideration on this run, especially if it has been a while since it last ran or since your last trip. Good scenery, although there can be some trash that may wash into some areas due to development upstream of the gorge. Water quality is pretty good especially considering said upstream development. Much of the Doe runs through private land, including some owned by the DRG Christian Camp. Bank scouting has never been a problem, but in the first and last miles it is recommended you stay in your boat as the river flows through a few backyards.

Rapids Description:

There are several class III+ rapids in the gorge, with Body Snatcher and Flagpole solid IV's at water levels over 500 cfs, Diagonal Ledges also reaches class 4 around 700cfs. The area around Body Snatcher is pretty congested, requiring a tight eddy turn, ferrying back across the river behind huge boulders, a class III rapid with a hard right turn at the bottom, and ends with a five-foot drop into a pool.

"Toaster Slot" should be scouted before running to make sure there are no logs at the bottom. You can scout from the river left bank easily. Enter this rapid on river left, headed towards the middle slot.

Entering the slot, John Webb disappears. If you want a front view, Rob McVie shows how it's done here. Toaster is an easy drop, just make sure it's clean before you run it. Alan Meyer-Davis gives a side view. Notice his paddle angle ... it can get hung if you hold it horizontally when dropping in.

After more class III, a major congestion appears, with a huge boulder blocking the entire middle and a blockage on the right side of the river. River left will look clear, so head that way, catch an eddy, and scout Body Snatcher from the river left bank.

Enter Body Snatcher against the river left bank. The current is pushy, so immediately turn back to the right and eddy out behind the rock you just came around. From here you can ferry to far river right to line up for a slide, but there is a bad piton rock at the bottom of the drop. The cleaner line is straight over the middle of the rapid, boofing the ledge.

Run down the middle, making a right turn at the bottom and head for the big eddy against the river right wall to set up for the final drop of the rapid. A hole can develop at the base at higher flows, so ferry out high, get some speed, and angle left as you go off the drop.

The final rapid of any real size is Flag Pole, a bumpy, rock-filled rapid that pours into the river left wall and curves to the right as it bounces down for 20 yards or so. It's easy to scout this rapid from the center island. A diagonal hole at the top just begs you to drop in so it can surf you river right. To avoid the hole, enter the rapid tight against the river left wall, and work towards the middle of the rapid, taking care not to fall off into the far river-left seam. At the bottom you can line up for a super-sweet boof over the final ledge.

The Doe is comparable to the Lower Little River(TN) in difficulty, although slightly more congested in some areas, but not as continous. There is calmer water after every major rapid, but has a great deal more strainer hazards. Again, please note that at levels above 1000 cfs the Doe is very continuous, more similar to the Cheoah at 1500.


Scout all rapids you can't see the bottom of as this river can be heavy with strainers. Almost all rapids can be boat scouted, although scouting "Body Snatcher" from the river left bank is advisable. Two major piles of trees exist in the river, the first one located as you come around the bend 1 mi. downstream from the put-in. This clogs the left half of the river. The river right route is "Bear Cage" rapid and should be scouted for log jams before running. You can do this from your boat. The second major pile is located midway through the run and also occupies the left half of the river. Be very careful here, leave plenty of time to make your way past, as the water here is always very shallow and it's easy to get off line. Pinning possibilites abound on the Doe, especially at water levels below 500 cfs.


A creekboat is nice but as long as there is a little volume up front, any kind of boat should be able to make the run. Shorter canoes in experienced hands are good to go also. Use your judgement here, paddle what you are comfortable in.

Put-in and Take-out:

The put-in for the Doe run described here is reached by taking US 19E to Bear Cage Road just outside of Blevins, TN. There is a bridge on Bear Cage Rd with parking for a few cars. If there is no space, do not block the dirt driveway. This is private property, the landowner is very gracious, but understandably not appreciative of boaters blocking access to his property! Shuttle vehicles to the take-out, where there is plenty of parking. The take-out is back on US 19E where the bridge crosses the Doe River near Hampton (north towards Hampton.) Some use the area immediately downstream of the 19E bridge, but ample parking is available on the upstream side of the bridge in the grass field at Hampton High School (be mindful of changing and post boating activities as this is school property).

Hampton/Blevins TN are located in the very Northeastern tip of Tennessee. If the Doe seems too tame or if you're looking for more action, the Watauga Gorge is just a scant 25 minute drive from the take out and is almost guaranteed to be running if the Doe is. If the neither the Doe or Watauga suits you, then some serious class 4-5 micro creeking can be had on the Laurel Fork of the Doe which is about 10 minutes away. When water is plentiful, ambitious expert paddlers familiar with all the runs may attempt the Carter County Quattro which consists of the Doe Gorge, Laurel Fork of the Doe, Watauga, and Twisting Falls section of the Elk; this is definitely not for the faint of heart!

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2014-12-18 14:39:18


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
1.0Bear CageIIIAccess
1.7Toaster SlotIII+Photo
3.3Diagonal LedgesIV
4.8Schooley's FollyIII

Rapid Descriptions

Bear Cage (Class III, Mile 1.0)
First significant rapid that is easily identified by a large log jam that blocks most of the river. Also there is a large tree down that lays nearly parrallel with the flow on river right. The line is to hula under this big log and immediately head left down a fairly narrow channel.

There are a couple of small pulloffs on the road above this rapid and can be used as an alternate put-in to avoid the first 3/m mile of so of class 2+

Toaster Slot (Class III+, Mile 1.7)

Toaster Slot by Daniel Fosbinder

Toaster Slot by Daniel Fosbinder
Photo of John Webb by Daniel Fosbinder taken 03/02/03 @ 510 cfs

This rapid follow immediately after the first significant rapid after the second railroad trestle. The gorge begins in earnest here. It's allways good to check for wood as the main channel has been blocked for months before in years past.
One can eddy out on river left upstream and get a fairly clear view of the main drop, which is the right slot of two slots. There is an easier sneak on far river right. More to come...

Bodysnatcher (Class IV, Mile 2.6)

Big Rock @ Body Snatcher @ 450 CFS

Big Rock @ Body Snatcher @ 450 CFS
Photo of Chuck Hunley & Milton Wicker by James Woods taken 11/22/03 @ 450 CFS

This rapid follows a fun class 3 that leads to a right bend in the river. The entrance has two smaller ledge drops. Scout/portage on river left. The rapid starts with an easy 2-3' drop into a fairly large eddy on river left to river center (the boater in Photo Right is in it), then line up for a 4' boof aiming for just right on center on the boof, pin potential exists if you are too far left or right but is readily apparent from the eddy. Basically you're looking to follow the main flow which after the boof turns left then shortly cuts back right. As it cuts back right there is a small rock (foremost in the photo) that can cause some broaching or boat spinning problems depending on the water level. If you want to break it up before the final plunge, there is a large eddy on river right. From here line up the final 5-6' drop with some left angle. The hole at the bottom tends to be sticky at nearly any water level, so penciling is not recommended. The right side of the final drop will work you, going too far left can cause an intimate meeting with a submerged rock that will deflect a boat right as it takes the plunge (not recommended). This rock is just submerged and the biggest problem at levels around 1000cfs. The final drop does have a demi-recovery pool following it before another 2+ rapid with a larger recovery pool. There are a couple good spots to set safety on river left above and below the final drop.

Diagonal Ledges (Class IV, Mile 3.3)
Noted by an old, large retainer wall on river left & the river bends to the right. This rapid consists of several offset, diagonal, ledges of varying retentiveness. At virtually any river level there is a large eddy about 1/2 down on river left next to the retaining wall. To avoid the most significant ledges below this point, one can go for a somewhat tricky ferry towards river right.

Flagpole (Class IV, Mile 4.1)

Flagpole - after first drop ~ 750-800cfs

Flagpole - after first drop ~ 750-800cfs
Photo of Mark Stover by Scott Fisher taken 04/15/05 @ 800 cfs

Flagpole should be identified as early as possible by an island splitting the flow. Scouting/portage from the island. The right side of the island used to be sneak, but since some flooding in the past couple of years offers a 'West Prong' style tight line. The more common line is left of the island. Either line is shallow, definitely not a place to be upside down. The initial drop can be run far, far left taking care not to drop off the even farther left ledge creases (see photo) immediately following the first drop. The right line should be along the right side of the first ledge being mindful that the current tends to kick unwary boaters hard right towards a boulder that can make for at best an uncomfortable broach situation. The middle line off the first ledge is only for those wanting to taste a hard piton followed by a surf to the right. After that, pinball on down and aim for the obvious boof at the end. More likely at the end though is to simply go to the right of the boof as the current pushes hard left to right at that point. Large eddy on the right to look back and enjoy the view of what you just ran as well as a cool geologic moment as this is one of the deepest parts of the gorge with an excellent view of the rock strata.

Schooley's Folly (Class III, Mile 4.8)

Located in the Doe River Gorge Christian Camp area, this rapid from upstream is a benign 3-4' ledge with most of the flow going left of center into a sticky, sticky horseshoe hole regardless of the level. It's swam many a paddler that lets his/her guard down. At levels around 650 & up the reasonable thing to do is take the short slidey part of the drop found to the right of the hole at river center.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
January 20 2010 (2982 days ago)
tfpaddles (151427)
Ran Doe today not quite sure of level, I would guess around 500-550ish.. Bear Cage rapid is still a
mandatory portage, also the next rapid after bear cage is now a mandatory portage. Portage is easy
and quick on river right. It's the rapid where the river bends to the right and the house is
sitting on the left of the bend above. Today, at lower water there was some wood visible, but all
avoidable. The right line at top of Bodysnatcher has a tree down, but i think you could still
squeeze by it if you chose that line. There is one more river wide a ways down on left. Low water
was no problem ducking right under. higher levels it could come into play. Great day on the river!
will post picture of portage 2 by house soon. Tyler F
December 28 2009 (3005 days ago)
AlanWilson (151363)
There is a river wide in the rapid below Bear Cage. It is at the bottom of the rapid and if you
came around the corner not paying attention you would run right into it. At higher water you could
probably boof over the middle but today at 700ish it was a mandatory portage. We walked on the
right. Otherwise all the wood could be avoided.
November 2 2009 (3061 days ago)
Mark StoverDetails
Ran the Doe yesterday at approximately 680cfs. Here's the current wood situation. The big tree you
ducked under to enter Bear Cage is now down all the way across. At higher flows, I think you could
slide over it but 680 wasn't enough but you can seal launch into the top of the rapid from the
right side. No problem with wood at the entrance to Bodysnatcher, you could go in from the left
easy. However, there is a tree fallen from the bank into the left side of the outflow from the boof
move; it's the spot just before that little pointy, FU rock gets in your way just upstream of the
final river right eddy before the final drop. Does that make sense? Anyway, a tree about the
diameter of your thigh is in the left side of the outflow. You would have to really mess up to get
into it, but you should be aware of it. We set someone right next to it, just to be safe. Other
than that, any other wood is small, readily visible, or otherwise not in play with the commonly ran
June 4 2006 (4308 days ago)
Mark StoverDetails
**********Per the landowner at the put-in, park in the turnout area only, DO NOT park in the tall
grass, this is feed for his cattle. He was very nice about it & we don't want to lose access to
this put-in over parking. Be mindful of other boaters & leave as much room as possible.
July 2 2003 (5376 days ago)
Mike MorrowDetails
Glad to see such a nice write-up on one of my favorite runs. I have been running it for eight years
and still enjoy every trip. In fact, I am getting ready to leave work and run it this evening! My
humble opinion is that the Doe Gorge (500-1100 cfs) is a step up from the Lower Little. Try it at
2000 sometime and you will be in for a wild ride! I would take people down the Lower Little that I
would not take down the Doe Gorge. I have always put the Doe between the Ledges Section on the
Tellico and the Watauga Gorge in terms of difficulty. Just another opinion. Take it for what it is
worth. There are a few rapid names in your write-up that we (locals) refer to with different names.
What you refer to as "Escalator", we have always called "Flagpole". Also we
refer to "Slot Drop" as "Toaster Slot". Thought you might want to know.

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