Little Pigeon, West Prong, Roaring Fork - Second Bridge down to Park Boundary

Little Pigeon, West Prong, Roaring Fork, Tennessee, US


Second Bridge down to Park Boundary

Usual Difficulty IV+ (for normal flows)
Length 1 Miles
Avg. Gradient 400 fpm
Max Gradient 400 fpm

Roaring Fork action

Roaring Fork action
Photo by KE

River Description

This section of the Roaring Fork is located at the end of an 8 mile loop road. The problem is that the road is one way, requiring a long and slow drive to get to the putin. The obvious option here is to simply drive to the takeout, where the road is still two way, and hike the mile to the putin.

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.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2007-01-28 11:26:30


Rapid Descriptions

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User Comments

Users can submit comments.
July 1 2009 (3251 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

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