Big Fiery Gizzard Creek - Tracy City section

Big Fiery Gizzard Creek, Tennessee, US


Tracy City section

Usual Difficulty III-V (for normal flows)
Length 12 Miles

Van running monkey

Van running monkey
Photo of Van Nall by Doug Earthman taken 07/03/04 @ running

River Description

Local expert (Ron Stewart, Box 1337, Chattanooga, TN 37401)

Lat/longitude coordinates given are for a ~12-mile section from above Tracy City to the road near the Little Gizzard confluence, but you won't paddle 12 miles. This is a paddle down, then hike-out run. As others have noted, the run suffers from pollution of sewage material, and there is a warning at Hwy. 41 with that message. At low water, the creek is almost clear, but at high-water, it pulls a great deal of sediment and, apparently, sewage-laced runoff.

Here's what Chris Guptill said back in 2002, and I think it's still a good description:
Here's a little info about some of Fiery Gizzard's rapids in a .75-1 mile stretch right near Tracy City.
The put-in is at the park off 41, with a hike down to the creek of about a half mile or so. The put-in is a short seal launch, with some class II stuff near the beginning. There is rumored to be a nice waterfall upstream, but may have wood blocking it.
Most of the creek is short-drop class II-III, with two larger drops. The first is a 10-12-foot vertical about halfway down. It's a fairly easy drop, but should be run off the highest point on river right. The landing zone on the left looks to have a lot of rocks just beneath the surface, and the hole there is much more powerful. The right side is better anyway, because the rock shelf form a nice launch pad. Still, it's best to scout this one. Take out on river right a little ways up from the drop and hike over the bridge and down beside the pool for a good look.
You'll continue down a little further through some more II-III stuff, until you hit a nice slide on river left. It's a little drop onto a slide, with no good place to pull out and scout, but as long as you stay straight, you can get through without much problem.
Continue down a ways further, and look for the confluence of another decent-sized creek. IMMEDIATELY after the confluence catch the eddy on river left, because a class V is about ten feet downstream. We (at the University of the South) like to call this "Monkey" due to its similarity to Gorilla on the Green. As of Easter 2002, Monkey was blocked (at both top and bottom) by logs and a strainer, respectively. Thus, I've never run it, but there is a nasty undercut at the bottom.
That's about the end of the run. About a mile further down there's another largish drop, but the water between Monkey and that is pretty flat, and the hike out doesn't make it worth it, really.
The nice part about this run is no shuttle, but you will have to hike along the Fiery Gizzard trail to get back to the parking area.



For more information please click on the link below:

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2010-09-27 14:22:31


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Warm-Up BoogieIIIPhoto
0.5Blue Hole fallsIVWaterfall Photo
0.8The MonkeyIV+Waterfall Photo
1.0Sycamore FallsIVWaterfall Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Warm-Up Boogie (Class III)

Fiery Gizzard Put-In Rapids

Fiery Gizzard Put-In Rapids
Photo by David Pointer taken 12/07/04 @ high

Small rapids in a narrow creek; watch for wood, of course. Boulder dodging mixed with small slides.

Blue Hole falls (Class IV, Mile 0.5)

Van running the 8 footer

Van running the 8 footer
Photo of Van Nall by James Tansey taken 07/03/04 @ running

Approximately 8 foot waterfall -- quite clean, punchbowl type falls

The Monkey (Class IV+, Mile 0.8)


Photo by David Pointer taken 12/07/04 @ high

Folding type water fall into a narrow canyon of black rocks. Small hole in lead-in, and ragged shelf at top. Left side wall is slightly undercut, but not as bad as presumed. Bedrock in landing area on right, keep nose up. Watch for strainers -- this thing collects wood like it's the Home Depot lumber aisle.

Sycamore Falls (Class IV, Mile 1.0)

james at the 14 foot

james at the 14 foot
Photo of James Tansey by Doug Earthman taken 07/03/04 @ running

Drop of approximately 9-14 foot, depending upon the person asked. Popular spot for swimmers in summer, but irregular shelf extends into pool just beyond lip, so get the nose up and get "out" away from the lip. Probably only hazardous if you go really slow and needle straight down. Most people take out below this one to hike back out.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
December 17 2006 (4231 days ago)
Sam McLambDetails
If you are willing to bushwhack upstream from the trail, there is a large slide that terminates
into a vertical drop. In 1998, it was completely blocked by a tree that would have been dangerous
to move. To my knowledge, no one has run that drop and not many know that it exists. Post if you
run it. There is also a little known 8-10ft ledge about 2 miles from campus, near the Four Seasons
restaurant, that is fun for park and huck. We started scouting the Gizzard in 96/97 based on the
stores of Doug Cameron and Steve Pucket. Shortly afterwards, the hemlock blocking Monkey magically
disappeared. The diagonal hole at the lip can get stiff at high water and spun a friend into a
backwards descent that was scary but fine. The overhanging wall is not as bad of a problem as we
expected. Don't be surprised if you go deep. BTW, the SOPs come-along works well when needed.
April 23 2006 (4468 days ago)
Doug CameronDetails
Steve Puckette, Van Nall (senior), and I ran it in January of (I think) 1980. Soon after, Carrie
Ashton ran it with some students. We all carried "The Monkey" just below the confluence
of Big and Little Gizzard (the creek that goes straight is Little Gizzard -- Big Fiery Gizzard
comes in from the right just before the Monkey. I know because we fought the dam there several
years ago), but students regularly run it now that the hemlock trunk does not block the drop. We
started just below the picnic shelter and took out at the natural gas crossing below Sycamore
Falls. It goes underground soon after that. Needs to be caught just after a heavy winter rain.

Lower Fiery Gizzard (in the valley below the old trout farm) has also been run several times by
Sewanee students. It's Class I-II with strainers here and there, depending on level.
January 14 2006 (4567 days ago)
Bert HarrisDetails
Ran the old rio yesterday with el se
December 9 2004 (4968 days ago)
Bert HarrisDetails
Ran the gizz today, also "Little Fiery Gizzard" I think the names are reversed on the
topo map. The level was sweet-the highest I have ever seen it, quite continuous and fairly pushy.
It only rained ~1.5 in last night but the water table was so high from previous rain that it didn't
take much. As V. Horton stated it is imperitive that one runs little fiery gizzard if the level of
BFG is high.
December 9 2004 (4968 days ago)
Matt HortonDetails
It rained 2.5 inches the day before pointer took those pix. Then it rained about that much more two
days later... I must be living right. Anyway, when it rains that much, one should check out little
fiery gizzard, which runs in right above monkey... about seven tenths of a mile of bedrock slides,
mostly class four-ish
November 27 2004 (4980 days ago)
Corey VoltDetails
I paddled this run at a reletivly medium flow on nov 24th 2004 with a local fire fighter from
mcminnville and Had a great time the run is great for people just learning to creek with an 8 foot
drop that is great to learn to boof off of and for the more advanced paddler it is also fun to
freewheel off of. you can also paddle behind this falls and paddle through the curtin. It is very
easy to run this drop multipul times because of the hiking trail that follows the river. I thought
that was as good as it was going to get until i came up to the monkey. This is your clasic south
east drop maybe 15'vertical in about 4' it looks alot like Gorrila on the green. There is a huge
undercut on river left that looks bad when being scouted from river left but if you climb across
the log above the drop and look at it from where you would set safty for the drop you realize that
th roof is quite high maybe 3' still not a great place to be but not near as bad as it looks from
river left.

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