To get to the takeout, drive east on 321 from the 441 intersection in Gatlinburg for a short distance and veer right at Roaring Fork Road. Take this for a mile or so and right before crossing over the creek, veer right again to stay on Roaring Fork Road. This road dead ends at Ely's Mill. You can park here when the road is open, or when it is closed you can drive on past the do not enter sign and go another few hundred yards to a small parking area in front of the gate. The hike is around a mile from here to putin above all the good stuff.
This run looks like a lot of fun, but currently requires a good cleaning. There is a handfull of wood that could be trimmed, as this run wouldn't be nearly as much fun if you had to get out every hundred yards. During the hike up you will start on river left and then halfway through cross a bridge over to river right. Right before the road crosses a second bridge over to river left again is an optimum place to put on. This gives you a quarter mile of class 3+ to get warmed up on before the bottom drops out. Putin on any higher the gradient has subsided and there is more wood to content with.
Puting on below the second bridge, the stream starts with a quarter mile of quality micro class 3+. When the stream comes back close to the road, get ready. There is a nice class 4 right above the lower bridge that currently has some wood in it. Right below the bridge the creek drops down several ledges in an ever tightening sluice that then turns to the right and off a ten foot drop. Below here is more steep class 4+ bouncing fun. Then the river funnels up against the right wall and pours through a 5 foot spout. There is another quality class 4 boogie stretch through here before the creek necks down again through another boulder filled series. Run far right to avoid a sieve and run to the right of a large old growth in the streambed. Below here the river runs down a few more great drops in the 4-6 foot range before calming down at the NPS parking lot. There is a little trail to takeout here, or one can continue on down through one more class 3+ and some more class 2 down to Ely's Mill. Right above the mill is a nice ledge run driving right. Below Ely's Mill things calm down to class 2-3 boogie all the way through Gatlinburg and down to the West Prong. Takeouts are plentiful but it might be hard to stop.
10 years ago
by Mark Singleton
There is an afws gauge for the Roaring Fork, and it is located a mile above the run right below where the headwaters comes together. A correlation has not been made yet, but as a general rule, look for the rain to be still occuring or to have just stopped, and the West Prong should be high or too high to catch this one.
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Drop above Ely's Mill
Looking at rapid below lower bridge
Rapid above lower bridge
Some boogie on Roaring Fork
Roaring Fork action
Roaring Fork Gorge from the bridge
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