Crooked Fork Creek - US 27 to Potter's Falls (Upper)

Crooked Fork Creek, Tennessee, US


US 27 to Potter's Falls (Upper)

Usual Difficulty III-IV(V) (for normal flows)
Length 2.16 Miles
Avg. Gradient 60 fpm
Max Gradient 100 fpm

LaMance Falls

LaMance Falls
Photo of G by Tom Rennalls @ 4.65 ft Hwy 27 gauge

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03540500 3500 - 10000 cfs III-IV(V) 00h48m 1020 cfs (too low)

River Description

Crooked Fork is a tributary of the Emory River on the Cumberland Plateau just south of Wartburg, Tennessee. This is part of the Obed-Emory River System.
If you are into waterfall creeking action, then the upper section of Crooked Fork is the place for you. This section hosts one 20ft drop (Class V) with a mandatory line and one 15ft drop (Class III+) which can be run almost anywhere. The rest of this run is class III-IV (after the first mile of class I).
Some choose to run both the upper and lower sections together while others choose to run only one of the sections.
Creek-boats and open-boats are recommended for this plateau gem, but a play-boat could be an option on a high flow day.

Articles and web links:
Potter's Falls made the front cover of the Summer, 1973 edition of American Whitewater Magazine.

Crooked Fork Tennessee Paddle Page

Waldens Ridge Whitewater CrookedFork

Camping Options:
Camping can be found in the nearby Obed Wild and Scenic River area at the Rock Creek Campground located at the Nemo Bridge. This is the take-out for the Lily to Nemo section of Clear Creek and the Obed Junction to Nemo section of the Obed River.

Probably the closest campground is found in Frozen Head State Park. It's only a few miles away offering not only campsites but also hiking trails to some cool waterfalls.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-04-02 15:38:38


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Put-InPutin Photo
1.6LaMance Falls5.0Hazard Waterfall Photo
1.81st Boulder GardenIV
1.92nd Boulder GardenIII+
2.2Potter's FallsIII+Takeout Waterfall Photo

Rapid Descriptions


Upper Crooked Fork Put-In

Upper Crooked Fork Put-In
Photo of Put-In by Brandon Hughett taken 11/2005

The put-in is off Hwy 27 beside a sewage treatment plant. Park in the grass but don't block any gates.

LaMance Falls (Class 5.0, Mile 1.6)

LaMance Falls

LaMance Falls
Photo of G by Tom Rennalls @ 4.65 ft Hwy 27 gauge

Launch this 20 ft drop off the rock finger in the center. Making your line is a must since the landing zone is only about 10 feet wide. Rock shelves exists under the falls. As long as you launch off the rock finger, you will clear the rocks. Stay away from the right side of this falls due to the rock shelf.

For those not running the falls, portage on river-left. A path leads to the base where you can walk under the falls. When you're under there, notice the crumbly underlayer of oil shale which erodes much faster than the harder rock overlay, creating the undercut. Cool!

The huge rock monolith down stream of the plunge pool was once the lip of the falls. During the flood of March 1929 (195,000cfs@Oakdale) the rock broke off and was hurdled downstream and buried in the gravel, pointing to the sky and leaning slightly upstream as if bracing against the flood.

A grist mill once stood on the river-right cliff of this falls back in 1895.

Other information on LaMance Falls.

1st Boulder Garden (Class IV, Mile 1.8)

This rapid is a boulder field divided by an island. The left line can be run at higher flows but at low water, there is a narrow chute that has several pin rocks. We portaged it at 4.6ft.

The right line seems to carry more water. Just be careful in the entrance as there is a badly undercut boulder on the left that has a lot of water going under. Many portage the entrance, walk 20ft and seal launch back in.

Just pick your way through this field of boulders. A few are undercut. You might need to take a quick scout.

2nd Boulder Garden (Class III+, Mile 1.9)

Same as before, eddy hop your way through the field of boulders. Follow the main channel just left of center.

Potter's Falls (Class III+, Mile 2.2)

Tera running Potter's Falls

Tera running Potter's Falls
Photo of Tera by Tom Rennalls taken 03/16/08 @ 4.65ft Hwy 27 gauge

This 15ft waterfall is one of the easiest to run in the Southeast. Though it can be run most anywhere, the most common line is in the center over a small curler (upstream of the lip) which lines you up perfectly for a rock finger. The extreme right side of the landing zone is shallow. Caution: The center line is easy to boof so watch your landing. This is also the takeout for the upper section.

If proceeding downstream (to run Lower Potter's Falls and/or the entire lower section, please read information and cautions about Lower Potter's Falls in the full description for that section.

Other information on Potter's Falls.

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