Piney River - Wash-Pelfrey Road to Spring City

Piney River, Tennessee, US


Wash-Pelfrey Road to Spring City (Wash-Pelfrey Road to Spring City
Alternate putin on Mossican Cr, unmarked log)

Usual Difficulty III-IV (for normal flows)
Length 10.4 Miles
Avg. Gradient 73 fpm
Max Gradient 120 fpm

End of the Slide

End of the Slide
Photo of Craig Rollins by Kemper Begley taken 12/15/01 @ 2.75 ft

River Description

Rob Martin:
his is not the creek to be on if you're out of shape. It's not a good creek to test your skills on.
"There is one section that is class IV-IV+; the rest is class II-III (not hair). But this run is
long, physically demanding and remote. But it is a beautiful place to play."


High Water comment from Geoff Kohl 06-13-2002 at 8ft

At about 8 feet, this river has some rapids that are class V and last for lengths of a football field or more. At this level, there are a couple drops that get what I would consider possible terminal holes. What's more, these nasty drops are in the middle of pure screaming hair, often giving paddlers the choice of one eddy before them. Having paddled this at that level, I would not recommend this level for anyone who doesn't know the run fairly well. We didn't know what was around some corners and were lucky enough to stop before we met a few huge holes. In addition, this is not for the faint of heart, as it's possible you will bomb down a series of huge haystacks playing slalom with holes that want to make swimmers, with no foreseeable end to the rapid in sight. Portages lead up through thick forests and over huge chunks of sandstone. At this level, it would compare to running Pillow Rock on the Gauley blind without the nice pool at the bottom, plus with bigger, nastier holes. I'd do it again at this level, but I know quite a few who would not, and they are probably better men because of that. (Note: this refers to the old gauge, before the takeout bridge was rebuilt. The corresponding level from the current gauge is unknown.)


Ed Note: The highest I know of was at 10 ft in the Winter of 1993, and was a handful all the way to the take-out. With water levels this high, and after our run I recommend Little Soddy.


John Tansil shared:
"Some early history - The Piney River was first paddled in 1972 (late 71?) by Martin Begun, other members of the East Tennessee White Water Club, and guest boaters, mostly from the upper Midwest, who traditionally came down to paddle with ETWWC on winter/spring holidays. Friends from that initial trip related details of the first descent to me on my first Piney run in spring 1973.

"Martin B scouted the whole run by foot before paddling it. The first descent was an 'epic' with high water, a big group of 17 (starting out), and lots of carnage. They were in composite K1s or C1s, mostly homemade since both groups had active boatbuilding programs. Kenny Cooper broke his boat in one of the drops and had to walk out. 'Hungry Jack' was (I think?) named for Jack Wright after a trashing. Don Jared painted the first gauge on the bridge at the take-out. The Piney quickly became a favorite run but ETWWC didn't publicize it.
"For several years after, the only groups on the Piney were people from the first runs and a few others. When I paddled it in spring 1975, we were again the only group on the river even though none of the other creeks further south on Walden Ridge had been discovered. Over the next 10 years, plastic boats and the warm water of the Ocoee contributed to a sharp rise in both the skill and number of southeastern paddlers.
"Two guidebooks on Tennessee whitewater, one by Mayfield and another by Sehlinger, helped to popularize the Piney during the early 80s. When I paddled the Piney in 1987 with Lee Belknap and others, it was fairly well-known. The initial rating of class IV-V was as much a statement about boat design and boating skills at the time as it was about the difficulty of the run. The Piney shuttle map is on the front cover of the Tennessee Gazetteer (1989 DeLorme version) except that most is obscured by a logo. The Piney was discovered at about the same time as the Caney Fork/Bee Creek combo and these three were the first Plateau creek runs other than Obed tributaries. Both the Piney and Caney Fork are true classics that should be enjoyed by everyone with the skill to paddle them."


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Last Updated: 2010-09-27 15:14:01


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Hungry JackPhoto
0.0Signal FallsPhoto
0.0Begin of Slide SectionPhoto
0.0Moccasin Creek putinN/APutin

Rapid Descriptions

Hungry Jack

Hungry Jack

Hungry Jack
Photo of Kemper Begley by Craig Rollins taken 12/15/01 @ 2.75

One of the last big ones, with more water it gets more of a bite

Signal Falls

Signal Falls

Signal Falls
Photo of Kemper Begley by Paul Butler taken 10/31/03

The first major rapid after Moccasin Creek

Begin of Slide Section

Slide Section

Slide Section
Photo of Craig Rollins by Kemper Begley taken 10/31/03 @ 2.75

This is your landmark, for the Slide rapid that is coming up

Moccasin Creek putin (Class N/A)

The alternate putin, where Pine Creek Rd. crosses Moccasin Creek. Lat/long coords are approximate, from Google Maps.

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