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Difficulty IV-V
Length 6 Miles
Flow Range 600 - 1200 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 9 years ago 5.2 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 02/11/2020 9:18 pm

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.


To know more about this creek 

 Below is a Dropbox Link to the WaldensRidgeWhiteWater Guidebook

Compliments of Mark Cumnock 

Rapid Descriptions


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Colin Rymer
10 years ago

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.

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Sutton Bacon
16 years ago

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.

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16 years ago

From Mark Cumnock:

Cain Creek is on Milt Aiken

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17 years 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.

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18 years 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."

Gage Descriptions

There are three gauges presently in place for North Chickamauga/Cain Creek. The first stop is checking at the take out. Upon entering the parking lot at the Bowater Pocket wilderness, take your first left and go to the lowest parking spots available. From here, take the trail to the right that follows to the gage. The trail is blazed with small orangs markers on trees and goes upstream about 50 yards. It ends on a couch sized rock with the gauge right below you. Minimum for the Cain Creek run is in the 1.8ft range. Max is up to you.

When you put on Cain Creek from Barker Camp Rd., notice the gauge at the first 90 degree bend to the right. This is a detailed meter gauge on a hemlock tree. 0.5-0.6 is the minimum. Above 1.4 it becomes hard to portage Vortex if you are planning on walking it. Max not know. Have heard of people getting quite trashed around 2.2.

Optimal levels from the USGS gauge are between 600 and 1000 cfs. 


Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports




article main photo

Ron Stewart Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Kevin Colburn

Last week, American Whitewater recognized Ron Stewart for his many contributions to river stewardship - or more accurately steep creek stewardship.   American Whitewater presented Ron with an AW Lifetime Achievement Award at an AW event in Atlanta Georgia on September 28th, following a presentation on the many rivers and creeks Ron has sought to protect.  The honor comes with a framed and numbered William Nealy "mystery move" print.

mark cumnock


Matt Muir


tom montgomery


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1214307 02/11/20 mark cumnock updated description
1198213 09/27/10 mark cumnock added link
1195051 05/24/09 Matt Muir Inserted paragraph breaks for ease of reading
1192752 03/19/08 tom montgomery n/a