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Difficulty III-V
Length 2 Miles
Gauge Little Buffalo
Flow Range 5.00 - 10.00 FT
Flow Rate as of: 1 day ago 1.395 [FT]
Reach Info Last Updated 05/22/2017 1:32 pm

River Description


Note: The Steep banks, trees tend to clog the creek with wood from time to time, so keep look out.
 

This is a very small creek 2 miles long, plus the last 3.5 miles of the EFLB. Each mile of Long Branch drops 267 feet, but each mile also contains a shorter steeper gorge where the main action awaits. The put-in only drains 0.5 square miles of watershed, which doubles just before the upper gorge drops start. The lower gorge drains only 2.3 square miles. Gradient #s are for Long Branch only. Tight slots, fast slides, waterfalls, undercuts, deadfall. Highlights are the first and last sets of drops. Must run the last 3.5 miles on the East Fork Little Buffalo which will be at high water.

Put-in: Go North on Hwy 327 from Hwy 16 at Deer and head toward Wayton. This road takes you past the Alum Cove NFS recreation area. Continue for 2 miles North past the rec. area and park on the side of the road. Aim West down the through the woods aiming for the confluence of the top two forks. (Elevation 1800).  The map indicates the target parking spot.

Take-out: Reach the take-out by continuing North to the community of Wayton from the put-in. Turn left (West) on Newton CR 8500 at the Wayton Baptist Church. Go 2.3 miles and turn left (South) on Newon CR 8610. Snow cemetery is on the right. Continue ~2.5 miles down the mountain to the community of Murray. Be sure to check out the scenery on the way down. At the bottom of the hill, there are a couple of houses on the right then a triangle intersection. To the left, Willis Park is beside the creek at the low-water bridge and the will probably have standing water in the field. Park at the community building next to the park at the intersection. Be sure to thank any locals and leave a donation for this facility. (Elevation 1065)
Alternate is to park on the river left on the road by accessing from Hwy 16 at Swain. See the East Fork Little Buffalo for description. Parking area likely will be underwater and very few wide spots are available are on the road, so parking is sparce.
 

Description

The creek starts out very small and narrow with a 0.25+ mile long shoal, then a third fork enters from the left, you may have to carry to this point at low water or due to downed trees. Immediately below this fork is the first set of drops known as the waterpark. A slide into an auto-boof, a 10 foot waterfall, another slide with a double autoboof, finishing with a ramp to the right into a flume.

After these first bedrock drops, the creek enters boulder drops. The next horizon line is an interesting double drop named 'Duck and Cover'.

Lots more nice class III/IV for the next mile with some nice drops like "Baby Zwick's", as it resembles the move from Zwicks on the Green Narrows, and 'Switchback'. Haunt Hollow enters from river right to add a little more water before the meat of the lower gorge begins.

The bottom gorge offers very steep banks and 450+ ft/mile for a third mile. Big complex boulder drops with holes, pin potential and undercuts. The portages are worse! The lower gorge consists of back to back drops with small eddys scattered about.

Just around the corner from the pool below 'Freeride' is the East Fork Little Buffalo. Long Branch enters ~0.5 miles below 'Johnson's Falls' so get ready for 3.5 miles of big water through the meat of the EFLB at flood! This is class IV+ big water with juicy holes, swirlies and crosscurrents.

If you have the time and energy at the bottom, catch a quick run on Stepp Creek, which enters the EFLB at the takeout.

 


 

 

Rapid Descriptions

Put-in Parking

Class - N/A Mile - -0.3
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Park along Hwy 327 about 1.8 miles north of Alum Cove Rec. Area.  Head downhill to the West to the creek.

The Waterpark

Class - IV Mile - 0.2

The first horizon line is a steep fast slide dropping 12-15 ft with an autoboof into the small pool, followed shortly by a 8-10 ft waterfall (best run on far right), followed shortly by a 20-ft steep fast slide with a double autoboof into a small pool. Leave the pool far right in a narrow slide, ramp up on the right bank to avoid slamming the boulder on river left and ride the flume out the bottom.

Duck and Cover

Class - IV+ Mile - 0.4

After these first bedrock drops, the creek enters boulder drops. The next horizon line is an interesting double drop named 'Duck and Cover'. The first 4-ft drop is under an overhanging rock into a sticky boiling hole. The second part offers a narrow slot with pin/piton potential on river left or shallow slide down river right.

Baby Zwicks

Class - IV Mile - 0.75
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Rapid with similar move as 'Zwicks' on the Green River Narrows in NC.  The drop is not as tall nor the hole as sticky.

Switchback

Class - IV Mile - 1
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As the name indicates, a tight move requiring a switch of direction.

Entrance to Lower Gorge

Class - 5.0 Mile - 1.6
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Entrance slot feeds a couple of holes banked by a sieve. Two more defined drops immediately follow, both of which have potential for pins.  The first as the creek turns to the left, the second as the creek turns right. A decent eddy is available before the next rapid.

Particle Separator

Class - 5.0 Mile - 1.7

2017 flood removed the 'Separator Rock' from the middle ledge.  More of a straight forward run down the middle. Aim for the boof in the middle or left of the bottom ledge and avoid being pushed into the right side.  An undercut boulder looms at the bottom right below the bottom ledge.

The name has dual meaning from the First Descent run. First meaning, the rapid required a 3-ft boof to the left, over the broken ledge, aiming for a boat wide slot on river left side the 'separator' rock and over an 8-ft ledge at the bottom. Going right of the separator rock would take you into a nasty looking notch which is not recommended. An undercut boulder looms at the bottom right. Second meaning, it separated the boaters from the walkers on the first descent (The portage is high and tough on either bank.

Long Branch Saloon

Class - IV+ Mile - 1.75

This one directly below 'Particle Separator'.   An entry rapid drops back the the right to set up for the main drop. Majority of the flow funnels left toward a house size boulder. Enter the door to the left onto the tongue beside the pillow and get ready for a punch in the face from the hole at the bottom of the 10-ft drop. At high water this hole could become nasty as the creek is constricted between the large boulder on the left, the cliff on the right and water pouring straight down into the deep pool.

Exit from the pool leads to a small boof into a water slide flume.

Freeride

Class - 5.1 Mile - 1.8

This rapid drops 40+ ft over 100 yards. A long complex rapid starting with 3 boulder slot moves followed by a 5-ft boof into a small eddy on the left. There is no stopping after this eddy until the pool at the bottom. From this eddy it drops over a cluttered 4-ft rock pile. Best line is middle to right, ride the bow high on the right bank as it turns back to the left. Negotiate a route through some trash rocks down the right side as the creek turns back to the left. Line up for an 8-ft boof onto a slide. Hit the boof right with left angle to avoid the right shelf rock and the hole and undercut wall on the left. Once on the slide, quick acceleration takes over toward the final 10+ foot waterfall. You want to be middle to left at the lip to avoid the large boulder on the bottom right side of the falls.

EFLB Confluence

Class - Mile - 2
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Shift gears and get ready for some big water class IV-V downstream.

Comments

Gage Descriptions

Look for 1.5" or more rain at Deer, Mockingbird Hill and Murray within the last 6 to 12 hours.

Also look for the Buffalo at Boxley gauge to be > 6.5 ft.

Permits

NA

Directions Description


Put-in: Go North on Hwy 327 from Hwy 16 at Deer and head toward Wayton. This road takes you past the Alum Cove NFS recreation area. Continue for 1.8 miles North past the rec. area and park on the side of the road. Drag West down the through the woods aiming for the confluence of the top two forks. (Elevation 1800).

 

Take-out: Reach the take-out by continuing North to the community of Wayton from the put-in. Turn left (West) on CR 8500 at the Wayton Baptist Church. Go 2.3 miles and turn left (South) on CR 8610. Snow cemetery is on the right. Continue ~2.5 miles down the mountain to the community of Murray. Be sure to check out the scenery on the way down. Especially the small but tall waterfall above the first creek crossing. At the bottom of the hill, there are a couple of houses on the right then a triangle intersection. To the left, Willis Park is beside the creek at the low-water bridge and the will probably have standing water in the field. Park at the community building next to the park at the intersection. Be sure to thank any locals and leave a donation for this facility. (Elevation 1065)
Alternate is to park on the river left on the road by accessing from Hwy 16 at Swain. See the East Fork Little Buffalo for description. Parking area will be underwater and very few wide spots are on the road, so parking is sparce.

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