Little Pigeon, Middle Prong - 2. Ramsey's Cascade trailhead to Porters Creek confluence

Little Pigeon, Middle Prong, Tennessee, US


2. Ramsey's Cascade trailhead to Porters Creek confluence

Usual Difficulty IV-V (for normal flows)
Length 1.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 240 fpm

1st rapid on Middle Prong

1st rapid on Middle Prong
Photo of Josh Workman by Bryan Hughbanks taken 01/25/02 @ Fairly High

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03469175 1100 - 4000 cfs IV-V 9y100d17h21m 227 cfs (too low)

River Description

Brad Roberts testifies:

Great creek run!!! Bring a short blunt boat, lots of rescue gear, and a big grin!! I would have to call the run a class 4 plus. Most of the run involves taking a duffek stroke to line up, then a boof stroke to launch - for just about the entire run. Not a whole lot of drops over 4 or 5 feet tall, but lots of drops about 8 feet apart.

The first rapid below the put-in bridge and the last rapid above the confluence were the most difficult. A high-water paddle out on the Middle Prong is a great way to cap off the run!!

This run is harder than it looks. There are also many bad spots spaced throughout the river. With good water this run is as or more difficult than upper Big Creek.

The first drop is right above the footbridge. To putin above this 8 foot boof, turn right off of the trail immediately before it crosses the footbridge. Go a hundred feet upstream and there will be a spot to put on. After sliding in, be ready for a little ledge above the big one that comes up quick. The big ledge is best boofed on the right, but keep your angle downstream so as to not land on a rock that sticks out on the right side of the drop.

The next rapid is the hardest on the run, with the possible exception of Pinball, near the takeout. Here the river squeezes down against the right bank and drops through a super steep boulder field for some distance. There are sick holes and rocks in here and its always bigger than it looked from the parking lot. After this set, eddy out and take a breath because it is non stop for the next half mile.

The gradient holds pretty steep through here and it tends to push you from one drop to another with little recovery time. Swimming doesn't look like fun. After several hard rapids be on the lookout for a large wall on the right signifying cave rapid. Half the river drives under this rock formation and the consequences of a missed line are of the worst type. A sneak is available on the left at high water, but at medium to low flows there aren't many options.

After the cave things get junky for a while. There are several twisting drops with unpleasant rock contact all the way down. Soon the road crosses, and be on the lookout here for river wide log jams that tend to wind up pinned against the bridge supports.

From here the creek relaxes a little to normal class 4 and winds through some good boulder gardens and braided areas. Keep an eye out for wood. Then the river picks back up significantly at Pinball, which is on the right side of an island and is easy to blunder into without knowing it. Down the middle is the line, trying to stay out of the big holes littering the pathway. Near the bottom stay center driving right to avoid several nasty pins and boulder piles where the left channel meets back up with the right one.

Below Pinball the creek is easy class 4 again for the last half mile to the takeout at the confluence with Porters Creek.

StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2006-12-14 20:29:29


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Sweet BoofIV+Waterfall Photo
0.0The Stacks5.0Hazard Photo
0.3Death Cave5.0Hazard
1.3PinballIV+Hazard Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Sweet Boof (Class IV+)

The drop just upstream of the bridge

The drop just upstream of the bridge
Photo of Stephen Strange by Rebecca Brown taken 01/06/02

The Stacks (Class 5.0, Mile 0.0)

1st rapid on Middle Prong

1st rapid on Middle Prong
Photo of Josh Workman by Bryan Hughbanks taken 01/25/02 @ Fairly High

You can get dizzy paddling into this one its so steep.

Death Cave (Class 5.0, Mile 0.3)
Watch for the big wall on the right where all the water goes under.

Pinball (Class IV+, Mile 1.3)

Middle Prong

Middle Prong
Photo of Lance Jones by Bryan Hughbanks taken 01/25/02 @ Fairly High

Beware of a pin rock in the top left hand slot.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
July 1 2009 (3489 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