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Difficulty III-V
Length 12 Miles
Gauge N/A
Flow Range
Reach Info Last Updated 09/27/2010 2:22 pm

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:

Rapid Descriptions

Warm-Up Boogie

Class - III Mile - 0
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
Approximately 8 foot waterfall -- quite clean, punchbowl type falls

The Monkey

Class - IV+ Mile - 0.75
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
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.


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8 years ago

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Sam McLamb
13 years ago

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.

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Doug Cameron
14 years ago

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.

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Bert Harris
14 years ago

Ran the old rio yesterday with el se

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Bert Harris
15 years ago

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.

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Matt Horton
15 years ago

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

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Corey Volt
15 years ago

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.

No Gage

Gage Descriptions

Visual. Look for recent rain of at least an inch (though possibly less if recent rains have it close-to-primed). Expect it to drop quickly.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports




Geoff Kohl


mark cumnock


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1191542 12/28/06 Geoff Kohl n/a
1198210 09/27/10 mark cumnock added link