Cain Creek - Barker Camp Rd. to Bowater Parking lot

Cain Creek, Tennessee, US


Barker Camp Rd. to Bowater Parking lot

Usual Difficulty IV-V (for normal flows)
Length 6 Miles

Enter Vortex

Enter Vortex
Photo of Eric Ralston by Daniel Talley taken 97ish @ .7

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03566525 600 - 1200 cfs IV-V 7y155d13h00m 5.2 cfs (too low)

River Description

If it is running no doubt someone will be there. A new gauge is located just upstream of the bottom parking lot brought to you by the master T. Robinson. I forgot the suggested levels, but I think 2 ft+ is good.

The put in is a trail on the right off of Barker Camp Road. You will hike this trial for about a half mile before reaching the small stream below. When you get on the creek, remember to look at the gauge at the first bend to the right. There you will see it nailed to a hemlock. Six inches is about the minimum.

The rapids start with several class III ledges and slides. 'Mandatory Portage' is the first significant rapid on the creek. Yet, despite its name, it is run quite frequently. The drop is a boulder choke about five feet tall and on river right. Scout atop of boulder on river left. Take note of the undercut immediately following to drop on river right.

A fun s-turn slide follows this rapid to the confluence with Mossy Creek. Mossy Creek doubles the flow. When the creek takes a large turn to the right be prepared to make some tight moves at the next rapid left of the island (scout it) or a portage (on river right).

After following a few drops on river left, one has to catch the right eddy before going into the sieve. From this pool, you can scrape your way on down to 'Big Splat'. 'Big Splat' is a ten-foot river-wide drop. The best line is just left of the rooster tail with a slight right hand angle. The landing is extremely shallow, but whatever you do, try not to pencil in with no momentum. It will hurt.

Next is the mighty class V 'Vortex'. Run left and slide down the sandstone "finger" with a hard right angle. Punch a few holes and you have done it! Portage with help on river right. Vertical lines open up on river right with high water, but are not suggested for the slabs of sandstone that tend to grab boats.

Continue through the mini-gorge that ends with a four foot creek-wide ledge which can become sticky at high levels. The next turn holds an excellent series of rapids called 'drainpipe.' Eddy hop your way down several s-turns following the main flow of water. Make sure to note the large eddy on river left that you will need to catch before the last drop, which is around eight feet. Boof hard with a slight right angle.

Check out the huge cliff you are now out for falling ice! The rapids from here to the confluence with the North Chickamauga are mostly class III+ with several class IV to run as well. North Chick is probably the largest watershed on Walden's Ridge, hence the longer runable window and its large river-like characteristics found in its last miles. Excellent class III-V drops, depending on water levels, will be encountered below the Cain confluence, the most memorable of which is North Chick falls--portage left, run it, or run right side of the island. Some great holes will be found downstream and downright excellent class IV's.



For more information please click on the link below:

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2010-09-27 14:27:28


Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
December 11 2009 (3261 days ago)
colinrymer (151314)
As of 12/10/09, the usgs gauge for the North Chick used on this site is not accurate. Ran Cain on
12/11/09 at 2.6 ft on North Chick, while the online gauge read 1.8 cfs.
December 20 2008 (3616 days ago)
x (1)
There is yet another tree in Mandatory Portage. It is difficult to see when boat scouting - you
have to get out of your boat to see it. It is probably still runnable, but it is a big tree and
most of it is underwater.
July 2 2004 (5248 days ago)
Sutton BaconDetails
I dont see any directions on this page, so here goes -- from the Bowater takeout, go up the
mountain and turn left on Poe Road. Go down Poe, around a righthand turn with a guardrail, and take
the next left onto Grant Road. Grant will then turn into Barker Camp, a dirt road on your right.
You'll see a pulloff area and most likely other cars there. Hike right down into Cain.
February 21 2004 (5380 days ago)
From Mark Cumnock:

Cain Creek is on Milt Aiken
February 1 2003 (5765 days ago)
From the Cain/Chick confluence its 6.9 miles to the Bowater parking area, at an average gradient of
110 feet per mile.
From Cain Creek Road to the Cain/Chick confluence is 2.4 miles.@ 102 feet per mile.
December 20 2001 (6173 days ago)
From Tony Robinson on Boatertalk " New stick gauges were recently installed on Cooper and Cain
creeks. Last Sat. when Cain read 6" on the traditional gauge, the new gauge read 1.5'. This
gauge is located on a bridge over Cain 2 miles upstream. It is located 1/2 mile down a newly
graveled road on the right .9 miles past the Cooper creek bridge. There is a yellow sign
advertizing land for sale. If you pull down to the right, you don't even have to get out of the
truck. Six inches is a minimum level on Cain, so if you are concerned Cain is too low, check the
upper gauge first. Another use would be to know if Cain was too high before you hike all the way
down to the river and paddle down to the gauge and have to hike back out, but there is no info on
how a max level would coorelate. The new Cooper gauge is located at the Barker-Camp Road bridge.
Cooper was run last Fri. at 2.3' on this gauge, a reportedly beefy level(N. Chick was 3.6'). I'm
guessing 1.9 would be a good minimum level. Speaking from experience, the best way to run Cooper is
to not put in on Cooper, but rather to run Cain/Chick down to it at a big level then hike up the
last 1/4 mile of Cooper. Since all the good rapids are located in it's last 1/4 mile before
emptying into N.Chick, you get to do all of them plus Cain/Chick at a great level. The Cooper trail
starts at a large dead pine tree on river left 30 yards upstream of it's confluence with N. Chick.
The trail is on Cooper's right side and takes you to the top of upper Cooper Connection. It's a
rough trail, but clear. Gauges were also installed on Big Soddy, Falling Water, and Woodcock
creeks. The Big Soddy gauge is located on the Back Valley rd. bridge at the takeout. The Falling
Water gauge is on the first bridge upstream of old Hwy 27. The Woodcock gauge is on the first road
bridge upstream of Hwy. 127. There is no info yet on how these gauges coorelate to levels."

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