McGill Creek, Tennessee, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV-V (for normal flows)|
|Max Gradient||270 fpm|
At the put-in is a spray-paint gauge. One foot is a nice level. You can go lower, but at the
price of scraping a whole lot before you reach the gorge. I have no word on maximum readings.
Just don't paddle it in a flash, I suppose!
McGill Creek is rarely run. Some just find the rapids not worth the 2-mile class-II paddle-in and the 2-mile valley paddle-out. Others have experienced bad situations like broken paddles, ripped neck gaskets, unintentional hole rides, and the ol' getting stuffed under trees, just to name a few. Yet, these rapids should not be downgraded. Many are of the class IV+ sort, reminiscent of non-stop Smokies runs.
The first major rapid to note would be a ten-foot river-wide ledge. Nothing to it really, just do not go too far left. Bugger is another to note. It is a seven-foot boulder choke about five feet wide that has a very shallow and tricky entrance and a somewhat sticky hole. Good drop! Scouting and portaging can be done on river right. Check out the waterfalls on river left too. Right after that is Cumnock Falls. The traditional line is the 3-foot-wide right slot that slides down a boulder some 20 feet at a 60-degree angle, then lands in a small pool before immediately dropping over a four-foot ledge, then into a hole a few yards down. This class V is the best rapid on the river. Fun times, man. The small pool right after the slide is very aerated and sometimes tends to boil up and push you to the left into an undercut ledge/pinning situation. So, run the slide with a right angle and have a good stroke ready when you hit the pool. A few more class III's remain until you reach the valley floor. Watch out for many downed trees that block the creek completely. These are very hazardous and have been found on every trip that I have taken there.
First descent was captured on the video Steep Creekin' at a low to minimum level.
It's also a good idea to leave a vehicle at the Roaring Creek bridge (you will pass over it to the put-in) just in case McGill has no water.
The gradient climaxes at close to 400 ft in 1.5 miles.
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