Laurel Creek is the section of water that runs through the town of Damascus, VA. It is most commonly referred to as the lower section of Whitetop Laurel or the Upper Section of South Fork Holston. The run actually starts at the confluence of Whitetop Laurel Creek and Beaverdam Creek and continues down to where the South Fork Holston enters on the right. Laurel Creek can be run anywhere from a scrapy 300 cfs to as high as you feel comfortable. At levels above 1000 cfs there are many great surf waves and playspots. About two thirds of the way down after a long flat pool you will see a horizon line signaling you are at an old mill dam. You can scout on river right as the left side is private property. The best routes are on the far left and right sides or you can scrape down the overflow channel on the right side. Its best to put in for this section at the Park in Damascus. You will see the parking area, just look for the red Caboose. There are numerous takeout points but most paddlers combine this section with the South Fork Holston.
The Dam is located about two-thirds of the way down this run. You will see the horizon line after a long flat pool. You can run the Dam on the far left which is about a 7 ft drop or on the far right which is scrapy slide drop of about 5 ft. You can also bang down the overflow channel on the right if its not blocked by debris.
There is currently a large tree blocking the left side of the dam which has revealed that the ledge is badly eroded and undercut. It almost looks man made but either way its definitely a cave like feature under there. We have ran this side many many times with out incident but just be aware!
Put in below the Old Mill in Damascus and have a blast! There are several series of ledges that are a lot of fun even in lower levels. Less than a half-mile below Vail's Mill bridge you'll begin to notice the water slow up and there'll be a LARGE horizon line up ahead. This is a good time to scout the old dam. At higher flows you can run either the far left or far right lines. Down below the dam are some fun rapids. Just be sure to watch out for the tree that is now convientently located on the right side (the best line) of the rapid. HAVE FUN!
We took some pictures a while back of a run on Laurel. I'll try to get those on here soon!
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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Jason at the Dam
4 Man Duckie!
Brian at the Dam
Liz on Laurel
Mike at the Dam
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