Little Pigeon, Middle Prong, Tennessee, US
|Usual Difficulty||II-III (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||35 fpm|
|Max Gradient||50 fpm|
|Little Pigeon at Sevierville|
|tva-ls006||2000 - 5000 cfs||II-III||-06h23m||720 cfs (too low)|
This stretch is hardly ever paddled, but is a great novice run with a few spots that will certainly challenge newer boaters. There are a plethora of class 2-2+ rapids with fun moves to make as well as a handfull of class 3 rapids that are quite nice. Combine that with several tight and suprisingly picturesque gorges and you have a great canoe/kayak trip. The best part about this run is that it can be paddled down to around 500cfs on the new gauge described above. 800cfs is a good level and 1000-1200 will be a little juicier but not really any harder. (Ed note - the gauge referred to is no longer in service - not sure how to convert to the current gauge)
One can putin at TN 73, but a nice putin that cuts out a few miles of less quality flatwater is located at the confluence of Webb Creek, near the City Hall of Pittman Center. Run this for around 6 miles down to the top of Richardson Cove for a trip of moderate length. There are few pullouts at Richardson Cove, but there won't be any other boaters crowding them either.
After puting in, the river starts in some nice shoals and turns before entering the most complex rapid on the river. There is some house construction on both sides of the river signifying the rapid, which contains a few house sized boulders and some fun and tight lines. Its class 3, but quite interesting in a canoe. After this is a flat stretch before the creek crosses under the road.
From here it is a blur, with a few more bridge crossings. The main road does for the most part stay on the river left side all the way to the takeout from here. When the river leaves the road for a while there are some great bends that take you away from the development and into some pretty places. The bedrock is nice in many spots, adding both to the character of the rapids and scenic value. There is second home development in many spots, but for the most part is tastefull and (relatively) unobstrusive.
Near the end of the run is the big one, a powerful constriction within massive sloping bedrock walls. This one has some tricky pin rocks in center, but they are no big deal with good water. Watch the river left wall at the bottom.
Immediately below, eddy out and check out the neat swimming/hang out area here. This is a great place to soak in the area before finishing with a short paddle down to Richardson Cove, where the Middle Prong finally succumbs to the Tennessee Valley and its limestone geology.
All in all, this is a suprisingly fun run and it goes when most everything in the park is gone. If you are a newer boater or have friends in that boat, and elbow to the y is getting a little old, try this one out. It runs just as often, and when the Little Pigeon above Sevierville is around 800 there usually isn't anything else going anyway. You can always take a 17' tandem canoe to make things more interesting.