Original stream description and map courtesy of Southwest Paddler. Used by permission. Reach description updated by David McDonald. Braided channels, many with rocky shoals, some very narrow with blind turns and overhanging trees. Other river sections are characterized by wide pools ending with ledge drops and waterfalls. Unless you are quite familiar with this stream at many different levels, you never quite know what to expect around the next bend. Even then, you may be in for a surprise. This is a first-class stream reminiscent of Colorado or other places out west. Many have said "It's hard to believe this is Oklahoma". This stream is alternately known as Big Eagle Creek. Fed by run-off from the Kiamichi Mountains, Eagle Fork Creek is only runnable after recent local rainfall. At normal flows, the stream is a beautiful emerald green; while high water levels typical of recent heavy rains will tint it brown a bit, but it rarely stays that way for long. At normal water levels the creek is runnable by almost anybody with basic experience, but higher flows require at least some good intermediate whitewater skills. Although there are some populated areas nearby, there is virtually no development along the banks. Once on the creek, paddlers are pretty much "on their own", so some swiftwater rescue experience / training wouldn't hurt. Because of the remote nature of the stream, it's not a good idea for newbies to try this one unless accompanied by a group with strong paddling skills, especially at higher levels. There are two low-head dams that must be portaged to avoid a "death sentence". Both come shortly after the put-in at the low water bridge # 1 off Highway 259 above Octavia. The creek is a beautiful stream fed by many waterfalls along the banks, rocky terrain with high bluffs all around, and rolling hills typical of southeastern Oklahoma. Access is very good and shuttles are relatively easy, as this stretch for the most part roughly parallels US 259, except for one section that reaches west near Octavia, which is easily accessed via SH144. Primitive camping is available nearby in the Ouachita National Forest, however no USFS land is immediately adjacent to the creek. Creek is bounded by mostly private land, and permits are not required to run this creek or use the access points. River access points: Low water bridge # 1 at 0.0 miles Low water bridge # 2 at 3.5 miles, at SH 144 west of Octavia Low water bridge # 3 at 8.0 miles, at a gravel and dirt road running west from Highway 259 Iron bridge at 12.5 miles, off the dirt road just east of Highway 259 and southwest of Smithville (just above the confluence of the Upper Mountain Fork river.) Thus, the reach may be broken down into three sections.
Section 1 Just below the low water bridge # 1 (LWB1) off Highway 259 above Octavia are two low-head dams with very strong hydraulic currents. This type of dam has killed many people over the years and should be taken very seriously. It is best to portage around them on river left.Section 2 A hidden waterfall with a 4-5 foot drop sits at 3.3 miles below the put-in at LWB2*. The waterfall can be a real hazard to paddlers and equipment, so scout it carefully, then run it on river right or take the sneak route through the chute on river left. You don't want to swim anywhere around this drop. Besides the hole at the bottom of the falls, there are a couple of smaller ledges right after that. To spice it up a little, some of the rocks at the base of the falls and surrounding area have edges as sharp as knives (for real). This drop gets a solid class III rating. *Low water bridge #2 has been rebuilt and is no longer a low water bridge.Section 3 At about 0.6 miles downstream of LWB3, the river splits with the deeper channel to the right and a rocky shoal to the left. As of this writing the right side is blocked by a channel-wide tree. Run this one to the left. The river comes back together right here, and makes a hard 90 to the left. Right after the split comes back together and just before the 90 degree bend, the current tends to push boats right into an overhanging root system that can cause some real problems at lower levels. Stay far to the left to avoid this hazard. A multi-ledge drop falls is about a mile downstream of low water bridge # 3, but it is generally not a major problem. Scout it before running it if you have any doubts about how to negotiate it. The entire run is a twisting channel with blind turns flowing through rocky shoals and ledges. At normal water levels, most of the rapids are straightforward class II, some II+ and a couple of III's. Some of the ledge drops, however, will have some grabby holes at the bottom waiting for you. Taking the time scout these ledge drops is always a wise decision. Most can be scouted from the boat, but there are a few that may deserve a little bank scouting, especially at higher levels. Strainers are generally not a huge problem, but a few do crop up from time to time, especially in the braided channel sections.
Paddle 12/30/06...it had peaked the day before, but still flood stage. both low water bridges were underwater. There were several wave trains, and catch on the fly play spots. River wide 3+ foot glassy wave and a fairly sticky pour over...I'll be back!
Runnable only after recent heavy rains. Look for about a 1.5"+ rainfall in the area. (Mountain Fork at Smithville) Also, if the Glover and Upper Mountain Fork are both running at higher levels , Eagle Fork may be running. Visuals are definitely necessary here, though. This creek should hold good runnable levels for 2-3 days minimum after substantial rainfall.
For Section 1, water running one foot over Low Water Bridge #1, (the first putin) will make a good run. Two foot over is considered high water.
For Sections 2 and 3, between 2' and 3' airspace under Low Water Bridge #3 makes for a good Class II/II+ fun run.
Between 2' and 1' airspace will bump the levels up considerably, making this a Class II+/III run and can easily swamp open boats.
Difficulty at higher levels unknown.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Updated Map 5-2006
First Ledge Drops, Section 3
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!