With origins in Bledsoe county, Rock Creek eventually finds itself in the town of Sale Creek, TN. The takeout is at the Leggett Rd bridge. A crude spray paint gauge does exist. 2.5 feet is a nice optimum level. One has several choices for a put in on this stream. One, is to actually put in on Rock Creek on Tendon Road. Another is to put in on Hall Creek, a northern tributary, off of Tendon Road as well. As of 1998, an alternative put -in was accessible too. Take the first main left road off of Leggett, some seven miles up the mountain. Follow the road for about a mile until you notice a pine plantation on the right. The trail leads 1/4 of a mile to Hall Creek. A nice man across the street actually lets you park in his yard, but make sure to ask first and be discrete in changing. This put-in cuts the trip down some three miles of basically class II. On the topo zone map, notice Clifton Bend. That's the road to Hall Creek.
At the confluence of Hall and Rock, there is an excellent playground for nearly 1/2 mile. The creek is wide and the holes (mostly shallow) are friendly making for some great play at nice levels. Several excellent class IV's and IV+'s are too be found later downstream when the creek narrows down a little. None of the rapids are officially named to my knowledge. A few of them with good water inch pretty close to class 5, and with good water this run is a considerable step above similarly rated runs like Piney River, Island Creek, and Piney Creek into Whites Creek. There are several complex boulder gardens with consequences and tricky moves. Most of the rapids you will encounter are class III-III+ though. In 1998 I spotted three bald eagles in the gorge, one mature and two juveniles. Overall this is an enjoyable stream where you can enjoy steep drops at times and good play as well.
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Ran this on Sep. 18, 2012. We put in with 4' at the valley gauge. It was 3.25' when we took off three hours later.
This is highest I have ever run Rock Creek and it was solidly class IV-IV+ throughout with several class V. I had previously been on it at 4' but that was some 10 years ago and today's 4' is higher.
New put-in information: What used to be the pine plantation put-in on Hall Creek is now a Chicken Facility. We simply parked our vehicle at the end of Clifton Bend Rd. and walked down a trail which eventually hits up with the old trail leading to Hall Creek. We have done this twice now and there have been no problems.
Hall Creek had 1 portage for trees about 1/4 mile above the confluence. There might be a few other portages and low-medium levels.
The first mile was amazing at high water. It contained huge surfing waves, diagonals, and 5 ft wave trains.
The first major rapid, a river wide sloping ledge, about 1.5 miles in, was run on the far right. One must definitely watch out for this one at high water.
The major set of rapids, about 1/4 mile below the Cumberland Trail bridge, should be considered class V at this level. The first was run far left with a relatively easy entrance but included an intimidating runnout. The drop after this one was huge at 4' and every bit of class V. We ran river right through the entire drop but I do not believe that is the best line at lower levels. Watch out for the hole at the bottom. A long sequence of Class IV+/V continued below where one boat was lost on our trip. We sneaked the last major drop on the right.
No wood on Rock proper.
Jordan Rice, Justin Shipp, and I paddled this creek on 4-22-06. 2 feet on the bottom bridge. Dropped to around 1.8 when we took off. Plenty of water. Watch out for trees if you put in on Hall Creek.
We ran this creek on 4/8/2006. The level was about 2.75 feet when we dropped a car at the take-out and it had dropped to 2.5 when we paddled out of the gorge. Kirk Eddleman and I agreed that it felt like a moderately high flow. At this level, there is a lot of class IV and the run should be considered as such (not class III-IV+). Do not expect it to be a small step up from class III-IV creeks like Island Creek or Big Laurel Creek (NC). At this level, it can also be a long day because many of the drops should be scouted and you sometimes have to start scouting well before the horizon line due to the pushy flow in the long lead-ins. There
From Mark Cumnock
What a perfect name for a run. Roger Scott and his gang first opened up this run. I think this one is underrated. Everyone thinks of all the others, but forgets about this one. This one is a classic. True, it doesn
Spring 2003 floods brought some changes. A riverbed shift at the takeout means more water flows around the left side of the bridge piling. 2 1/2 and even 2 1/4 are now good levels high enough for nice play on the first half of the run. Add roughly 1/2 a foot or better to the reading to get the old gague equivilant.
The hole in the runout is long gone. The nice man at the put in advises that a private buyer is attempting to buy the (presumably Bowater)land at his put in location potentially closing this access point in the future. There is a group that is making efforts to protect some of the land near the runout. More info is needed on this group to perhaps advise them of the potential land purchase at the top of the mountian.
Visual gauge is located on Leggett Rd. Bridge, middle pillar. Orange spraypaint. 1.8-3ft is a good range.
The closest online streamgauge is just a ways south. Look for medium high to highish levels on North Chick for this one to be going.
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Rock Creek Gorge
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