Little Pigeon, West Prong, Tennessee, US
2. Chimneys Picnic Area to Campbell Overlook (Picnic)
||V (for normal flows)
Good stuff...Photo of Newton Tilson by AJH taken 06/25/06 @ 0.6 @ bridge
Picnic is no picnic.
This section, although not as steep as "Trailhead", still packs a punch and gives you
more river miles. The West Prong is "one big rapid" in a sense where you find the
channel with the most water in it and go with the flow. There are a few named rapids and places
in the river to note.
First Island: Stay left here. Not much rapid wise, but this is where most of the water goes and
it is usually free of trees.
Second Island: Much more complicated than the first island. Here you go right. The entrance is
somewhat of a boil, but managable. There are several drops back to back, the biggest one
involving a hard boof right, followed almost immediately by a boof on the left.
Boof Right/Cave: This drop is in the center of the river. Ride the rock, but don't stall or boof
too hard right. Get to river left after the slot to avoid the mini-cave on river right.
Skywalker: Entering slightly center left/left is the prefered line for the top drop here,
followed immediately by a big ole rock in center of the river. Go left of this rock. At higher
water this drop can also be run on far river left through smaller drops.
West Prong Falls: Shortly after Skywalker is WPF. Several lines exist. Some take a far river
right line that ends in a vertical 8-10 foot slot boof. Another line is to run center where the
falls have more of a ledge look to them. Beware that there is a large rock just under the surface
on the left side of the center line. Far river left should be avoided entirely.
Amtrack: The entrance to this rapid is quite long and ends with an exciting boof. The best lines
are seen when boofing center to slightly center right. The drop is close to 8 feet and is
followed by a river wide hole and several strange undercuts to be avoided. Luckily there is a
large pool to gather your belongings below.
Room Without a View: Just around the corner from Amtrack is Room Without a View, the grandfather
and climax of the West Prong "Picnic" rapids, and a tough one to have towards the end
of the run. Enter through a slot on river left and hold on. You'll soon find the river running
into a large boulder in the center of the river. Do not go left or you'll end up in a pin fest.
Instead, go with the flow, towards the right, punch several holes and you're done. It's one big
challenging s-turn of beauty.
Blue Angel: Shortly after Room Without a View you'll come upon a third island. You want to go
right here, for it is Blue Angel, an 8-10 foot launch off of a boulder in the center of the
Bitch: As you turn the corner after Blue Angel you'll find yourself in a very long series of
s-turns and slots. At the end of these is Bitch. The river-left side of the West Prong, just
before the take out, goes into a sieve with many trees in it. Therefore, run the right side, also
known as Bitch. It is probably the most dangerous rapid of the run because of it's high pinning
The take out is just below this series of rapids, on river left that leads to a trail for
However, you don't have to take out here if you're still up for a few more class IV's, solid
class III and one BIG class V. The following rapid descriptions apply to what is being called
section 3 of the West Prong, http://www.americanwhitewater.org/rivers/id/1761/.
However, the top part of this section 3 should be considered in the Picnic section, as, half of
the time people don't take out at Campbell Overlook (especially with higher water levels), and
two, there are big rapids yet to go that don't compair to the class II only from the Park
Headquarters to Gatlinburg. With that being said...
Thors hammer: This rapid is not too far from the Campbell Overlook takeout. You'll find yourself
hanging out on river left shortly before the drop, generally speaking, and when you begin to
notice the river widening to the right, it's Thors Hammer. The river goes through many different
slots with many different lines, all of them usually on the shallow side of life.
In a Hurry: This drop is as big as anything on the standard Picnic section. It's sort of like a
longer Room Without a View but with In a Hurry mostly being straight on.
The take out, is close to a 1/2 mile below In a Hurry, the second walkway from the Vistors
Center. You'll have gone through quite a bit of class II. The trail is easy to miss, so hike down
from the takeout to make sure you know where to get out.
The West Prong, Trailhead and Picnic respectively, are very demanding runs and not to be taken
lightly. It's best to go down with someone that knows the river. The rapids mentioned above are
mostly class IV+ to V, meaning, there are no names for the scores of continuous class IV and III
that you see. Trees are always an issue, so make sure you chat with local boaters before hand who
know the latest hazards.
The best rain gages are at http://www.afws.net/data/tn/Sevier.htm The most important is ID 1543,
Newfound Gap. The others are also important, but I have seen the West Prong run with only
Newfound Gap showing significant rainfall. A good inch is needed during winter months. When the
greenery starts, look for 2+ inches into the end of the year. Another rain gage can be found at
http://www.lakeinfo.tva.gov/htbin/getprecip under Newfound Gap.
A stream gage is located on the AFWS site under gage ID 1599, HoJo Bridge. Located in Gatlinburg,
it is useful, but with a slight delay. Meaning, if you got the proper rain totals don't wait for
it to get to Gatlinburg, you might just lose the best water. Despite this, look for it to be at
least 2 feet.
StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2008-03-07 18:27:17