Clear Fork (of the Cumberland), Tennessee, US
|Usual Difficulty||II-III (for normal flows)|
|CLEAR FORK AT SAXTON, KY|
|usgs-03403910||200 - 2500 cfs||II-III||01h25m||179 cfs (too low)|
Gage that works SAXTON GAGE
NOTE: FOR NOW YOU MAY NOT WANT TO USE THIS TAKEOUT. THERE ARE SOME NEW BIG "KEEP OUT" AND "NO MORE TRESPASSING" SIGNS. SUGGEST TAKING OUT AT THE CEMETARY DOWNSTREAM (ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE QUARRY) OR EVEN PADDLING ON DOWN TO THE BRIDGE AND PARKING AT THE STARLIGHT CLUB. THIS INFORMATION WILL BE UPDATED IF I AM ABLE TO GET IN TOUCH WITH THE LANDOWNER. THANKS...BUT HERE IS THE INFORMATION IN CASE IT ONE DAY BECOMES ACCURATE AGAIN:
From Jellico, TN, follow Hwy 25-W South for a mile or 2 (or 3) until you start seeing the river on your left. Continue on, past the quarry until you see a driveway on the right and some paved shoulder parking on the right. From here you walk down to the river and look up at the last rapid. Park here, preferably on the river side of the road. Walk down the trail and check out the big flat rock that you will need to look for when you get back to the take out. Be careful where you step in this area as we did find one used syringe by the trail a while back. Recently (2007) the property owner has been cleaning it up regularly and even provides a trash can. PLEASE don't give him a reason to keep boaters out...respect the property and don't leave trash behind. Be courteous if you meet the owner. He is the guy with all the dogs who lives across the road.
Continue up 25 W (South) until you see a sign for a 4-way intersection. Turn Left here onto Travillion Ln. Follow Travillion for about 1/2 mile and park at your own risk near where the road crosses the train tracks. Be sure not to park so close to the tracks that trains will hit your car as they pass. I've usually parked here and never had any problems with trains or with the locals. 2001-2007. There is a local who lives across the tracks who invited me to park and put in in his yard, but as I can't remember his name or which house he lives in, I still park by the tracks.
Continue South on 25-W until you get to highway 90. Turn Left on Hwy 90 and park either on the side of the road near the bridge over the Clear Fork or drive on down and park in the area under the bridge. This put-in is actually on the Hickory Creek. Even though this put-in adds a mile or so of flat water, it is easier to park. I haven't been to this put-in since 2002 or so. Recent reports in 2009 say that the road to under the bridge is now impassable due to kudzu.
Rapid Descriptions: (rapid names were made up by me and my friends.....apologies if they already had names before this)
The rapids on this run get progressively better (bigger) as you go down the river. The first couple are class II but the last 2, called "train wreck" and "salad shooter", are class III. Between these last 2 rapids is a big haystack shaped rock with a sign hanging on it. This commemorates the troop train wreck that happened here during WWII.
The rapid before train wreck (it has no name that I know of) is mostly a wavetrain, but the waves are playable, you just don't have a lot of eddies. You have to just catch the next wave after you fall off of one. At 1000 to 2000 cfs, the waves are quite big and lots of fun.
Train Wreck rapid is best run on the right side of river left (left of the huge rock). From upstream it looks like you can go to the right of the big tall rock, but I wouldn't try it without looking at the drop from the downstream side first.
Salad Shooter is arguably a class IV rapid at higher levels (above 1000). The most "exciting" route at higher water is to take the first drop about 8 feet from the left bank, then take the second drop however you happen to hit it. At lower levels this is the only route you can take, but at higher levels you can take an easier route on river right.