Little Pigeon, West Prong - 2. Chimneys Picnic Area to Campbell Overlook

Little Pigeon, West Prong, Tennessee, US


2. Chimneys Picnic Area to Campbell Overlook (Picnic)

Usual Difficulty V (for normal flows)
Length 2.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 320 fpm
Max Gradient 380 fpm

Good stuff...

Good stuff...
Photo of Newton Tilson by AJH taken 06/25/06 @ 0.6 @ bridge

River Description

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 river.

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 possiblity.

The take out is just below this series of rapids, on river left that leads to a trail for Campbell Overlook.

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,

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.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-05-28 15:53:12


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.2Top of 1st IslandIVPhoto
0.3First IslandIV+Hazard Photo
0.6Second Island5.0Photo
0.8Boof Right/Cave:IV+Photo
1.2West Prong FallsIV+Photo
1.8Room Without a View5.0Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Top of 1st Island (Class IV, Mile 0.2)

First Island

First Island
Photo of Ike by AJH taken 06/25/06 @ 0.6 @ bridge

First Island (Class IV+, Mile 0.3)

Tree dodging.

Tree dodging.
Photo of Doug Benton by AJH taken 06/25/06 @ 0.6 @ bridge

Watch out for these overhanging trees as of 6/25/06, they caused much adversity.

? (Class IV+, Mile 0.4)

A tough one.

A tough one.
Photo of Ligon by AJH taken 06/25/06 @ 0.6 @ bridge

Watch out for this difficult rapid early in the run.

Second Island (Class 5.0, Mile 0.6)

Second Island

Second Island
Photo by AJH taken 06/25/06 @ 0.6 @ bridge

Boof Right/Cave: (Class IV+, Mile 0.8)

Boof Right/Cave:

Boof Right/Cave:
Photo of Ike Roy by AJH taken 06/25/06 @ 0.6 @ bridge

Approx. 6 foot drop. Usually run by starting on river left or middle of lead-in boogie water and moving strong right, with a hard boof to the right as photo shows. Lands next to a big rock that extends up into center of river as a pinch rock that makes you do this far right boof. This rapid is why elbow pads exist.

Skywalker (Class 5.0, Mile 1.1)


Photo of Ligon by AJH taken 06/25/06 @ 0.6 @ bridge

West Prong Falls (Class IV+, Mile 1.2)


Photo of Doug Benton by AJH taken 06/25/06 @ 0.6 @ bridge

Amtrak (Class IV+, Mile 1.5)


Photo of Ike Roy by AJH taken 06/25/06 @ 0.6 @ bridge

approx. 7 foot drop, long class III+ lead-in; easy to stumble into. right side boulder is undercut, collects some wood.

Room Without a View (Class 5.0, Mile 1.8)

Room without a View

Room without a View
Photo of Ike Roy by AJH taken 06/25/06 @ 0.6 @ bridge

Bitch (Class 5.0, Mile 2.2)


Photo of Ike Roy by AJH taken 06/25/06 @ 0.6 @ bridge

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
September 7 2011 (2481 days ago)
Alex ZendelDetails
Jim Janney posted the following on BoaterTalk on 9/6/2011. Subject: West Prong Wood Report. It's probably
in the best shape it's been in for a good while. Nothing on the upper until big tree (that's right,
metal box is open again), which has a pile of trees across the bottom. Not sneakable until some
flossing is done, but the tree blocking the main line is serious. The pile of logs in the picnic
section is still there. Lower was all runnable but there is still the wood at cave, a log below
skywalker, and a pungi stick in the center line at WP falls (still runnable center but right is
open again too). Visual level was 1.35 when we got there at 5, and 1.3 when we passed the gauge at
6:30. This was pretty much minimum and felt like 1 ft from the last few years. Online gauge was
about 1.85 around 6:30. Jim
July 1 2009 (3278 days ago)
Mark SingletonDetails
Park Dispatch Office number (865) 436-1230 See BoaterTalk post: June 25, 2009 - If you didn't catch it, an
overturned kayak was found just outside of the Smokies on the MP of the Little Pigeon. It spurred a
search and rescue scenario that was serious enough for it to be reported to local TV stations. Not
sure of the outcome and I hope everyone is OK. But this did raise a very significant question. Who
do we notify when we a boat gets pinned or gets out of our control in the Smokies and darkness or
other circumstances force us to abandon it for any period of time? My friend Russell asked this
question and this was his post on a local paddling list serve. I asked the GSMNP folks what would
be the best way to report a lost boat.Here is their reply: Hello, If there is a report of an
accident or missing person, the park responds and/or conducts a search, but just finding an empty
kayak in the water would not necessarily result in a full-fledged search and rescue effort as the
town of Pittman Center launched during the recent incident. If one of your club members loses a
boat, but is otherwise okay, please call the park's Dispatch Office at (865) 436-1230 to let them
know that an empty boat may be found and it is not an emergency situation. This is a non-emergency
line which is staffed from 6:00 a.m. - midnight, but if a serious accident or other emergency has
occurred in the park, sometimes all available dispatchers have to concentrate on radio
communications among responding units and don't answer the line. If there is an accident with a
serious injury or a member of your party is known to be missing, please call 911. Best regards,C.
BloomGreat Smoky Mountains National Park
March 8 2004 (5219 days ago)
From Boatertalk:
Forum: BoaterTalk
Re: Altitude confirmation needed. Attn Bradley LVM New
Date: Mar 08 2004, 14:23 GMT
From: deluge

Road prong is 1100ft (1.9 miles) from putin 1/4 mile above greenlight falls. If you go from here
and do west prong all the way down to last take out (below in a hurry) that is just about 3000 feet
of drop with no portages (unless you want). If you did road prong from third bridge it is .6 miles
and about 300-350 feet. upper west prong is 700 feet (1.7 miles) from foot bridge to 441 bridge.
441 brige to last take out is 3.3-3.5 miles and a little over 1100 feet. Campbell over is a mile
less.- howard

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