Powell - 2. Appalachia to Big Stone Gap (Route 23)

Powell, Virginia, US


2. Appalachia to Big Stone Gap (Route 23)

Usual Difficulty III+(IV) (for normal flows)
Length 3 Miles
Avg. Gradient 40 fpm
Max Gradient 130 fpm

Slam Dunked

Slam Dunked
Photo of Beau Dunnivant @ 2.7

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03529500 350 - 1200 cfs III+(IV) 00h45m 156 cfs (too low)

River Description

This is the "afternoon adrenaline fix" for local boaters. The run has several good rapids in its three miles.

The first notable drop is just downstream of the put in, near the town of Appalachia VA. It is called Railroad Ledge. The drop can usually be ran on the left or right side depending on water level. The right side line is the way to go down to the low end of the water.

Next up, about 1 mile downstream is Big Ledge. This is a very straightforward drop that is recognized from the water by the large slab of rock on river right. Locals in the community refer to this as Washington Rock. (Bearing resemblance to George Washington's bust on the quarter). Boof the drop slightly right of center and avoid the pile of rocks at the bottom.

Now is where the fun begins. After some fun warmup rapids, you round the bend and notice a small creek dropping into the river on RR. This signals the beginning of Roaring Branch rapid. This rapid is split up into two sections, the upper starting with an entry move on RR. Be aware of the pin rock on RR when running this drop. It doesn't hurt to have a little left angle going toward the small roostertail in the middle of the ledge. From here you can run the drop in a zig zag from L to R. OR you can run a small slot in the middle of the river down into the bottom half of the rapid and finish out on RR.

Be sure to get RR after you pass under the old bridge to make the U-Turn move at the next immediate rapid downstream. If you are running this drop anywhere other than the u-turn move, be sure to hit the hole hard with a good stroke before the end.

By now you begin to feel the push of the 130fpm gradient in the small streambed. From here, you have a few options on where to take your lines. Below the u-turn move is a fairly sticky ledge hole on the left of the river. You can boof this hole hard or run an "S" move on the right against the current.

From here you can run middle or make the tight move on RL just upstream of Table Rock. This can be ran at various levels and is a pretty straight forward slot move. From here you are just upstream of Table Rock. This is easily recognized by the large slab of rock on RR, if you can't easily identify this rock chances are the water is over 1200 cfs and you better hang on for the ride at the end!

The Table can be ran in a fast chute on RL or a tight boof on RR. Be aware of the undercut on the back side of Table Rock if running the RR boof. From here the river gets tighter and proceeds to plunge into the last major drop of the run, Slam Dunk. You can run this drop down the throat through all of the froth and then either go left, right, or over the big pourover rock at the bottom. From here the river braids around a series of islands into the section known as Three Forks. The best line is the first fork immediately downstream of Slam Dunk, the middle fork is the next option and the third fork is not adviseable at this time due to a lot of trashy boulders and wood in play. Lots of action here and it makes for a good after-work run for those that live in the area. If you are in the woods and happen across the Powell, take a short trip along "old" US 23 between Big Stone Gap and Appalachia, make the scout on the way up from the road, pick your landmarks and get in, hang on, and have a great time!

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2014-02-16 06:47:21


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Railroad LedgeN/A

Rapid Descriptions

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
December 7 2014 (1466 days ago)
Nhinckley (156905)
Here's a video: https://vimeo.com/113868406 Nathan Hinckley 865-216-1820 nhinckley@mac.com

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