Clear Fork - 2. Brewster Bridge to Burnt Mill Bridge

Clear Fork, Tennessee, US


2. Brewster Bridge to Burnt Mill Bridge

Usual Difficulty II+ (varies with level)
Length 10 Miles
Avg. Gradient 14 fpm
Max Gradient 40 fpm

Adam Garrett @ Swimmers

Adam Garrett @ Swimmers
Photo of Adam Garrett by Brandon Garrett taken 07/15/03 @ 100 cfs apx.

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03409500 300 - 4000 cfs II(III) 00h54m 2130 cfs (running)
High, pushy flows. Expect some big holes.

River Description

This run starts off with under Brewster's Bridge. There's ample parking at the put in and good river access.

The first few miles are pretty calm. You will travel through a narrow sandstone gorge before the action picks up. At mile 4 the first rapid of significance will appear. Look for a large over hanging rock on river right. This is Decapition Rock. At lower flows the river forces you to go under the overhang, but at flows above 1500cfs the river is to high to pass under the overhang. This forces you to boof over the big rock in the middle of the river. Scouting is best on river right. If you have to boof this drop, be aware that the hole at the bottom will be very sticky. At levels over 1500cfs I would classify this as a III.

There are a few more small rapids before the confluence with Whiteoak Creek, which comes in on the right. (There is some beautiful scenery up Whiteoak Gorge, making it a fine run, if you don't mind the flatwater paddle-in). Not far down stream there will be a long flatwater section and a sandy beach area on the right with a rope swing. You are now less than 3 miles from the take out. After the beach there are some faster sections of water.  

The next rapid of significance is Swimmers Rapid about 0.7 miles downstream. This is a small ledge that has a large "flipping rock" in the middle. Best run from right to left to avoid the rock. At higher levels this becomes a riverwide hole. There is a large recovery pool at the bottom.  

About 1 mile past Swimmers, there are two campsites on river left. If you look closely you will see trails leading to the river from the campsites. After the campsites there are a few short rock gardens before the long flatwater paddle to the take out. Beware at lower levels as the flatwater section can be dangerous on river right. There have been numerous drownings on these sections. This is not a problem if you stay in your boat and don't get out to swim.

The take-out is on the left before the bridge.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2011-05-14 10:30:22

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Brewster's BridgePutin
4.0Decapition RockII+Hazard
8.0Swimmers RapidII+Playspot Photo
10.0Burntmill BridgeTakeout Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Brewster's Bridge
Put-In point.

Decapition Rock (Class II+, Mile 4.0)

At lower flows, run right under the overhang. At high flows (over 1500cfs), boof off the center rock and paddle hard through the hole at the bottom. Also be aware of the overhang at higher levels. It is perfectly head high and would make for a hard hit if you're too far to the right.  

Swimmers Rapid (Class II+, Mile 8.0)

Adam Garrett @ Swimmers

Adam Garrett @ Swimmers
Photo of Adam Garrett by Brandon Garrett taken 07/15/03 @ 100 cfs apx.

Run right to left. Watch out for a paralling flipping rock on your right when you begin with left angle.

Burntmill Bridge

Burnt Mill Bridge

Burnt Mill Bridge
Photo by Adam Garrett

Take-Out Point

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
March 15 2009 (3598 days ago)
I ran this section yesterday on 3/14/09 from 2PM put in at Brewster Bridge to 6PM take out at Burnt
Mill Bridge when water levels had to have been nearly at or possibly even above flood stage and
would like to remain anonymous here due to the fact that I broke the number one rule of whitewater
paddling by going it alone with no support whatsoever. Water levels must have been about at the
2000 cfs not-recommended due to "too high" at the time I ran it. "Decapitation Rock" looked and
sounded a whole lot more like "Sheer Suicide Rapids" to me and I scouted it from river left after I
heard the sound of the rapids coming up in front of me. At only mile 4 of an 11 mile run and
staring at a rapid that I would classify as easily a III+++, I decided right then and there that I
was not about to run this monster and risk my life and I portaged about 50 - 60 feet worth of some
very large boulders to access the very tail end of the rapids formed by the funneling effect
straight down river middle between rocks/boulders on both sides of the river at the rapids'
starting point. From Decap Rock onto "Swimmers", and before Decap Rock but just to a lesser extent
really, the whole run was dispersed with very exaggerated sections of wave trains that kept me
stopping several times along the way at the flat water sections to dump my open boat out due to it
being splashed into and filled up in the bottom. When I finally got to "swimmers" it was
unrecognizable to me upon entry because the huge rock in the center of the river was completely
invisible and the river center path looked eerily smooth as silk to me until I hit it head on and
it flipped me. I didn't have nearly enough speed built up to jump the gigantic hole I was staring
into for what seemed to be an eternity of a matter of only a split second or two in reality.
Anyway, I swam and swam hard through the rest of the roughest wave train I think I saw on the whole
trip after quickly catching up to my boat and finally getting to a place where I could kick my way
to the side at river right and onto a very makeshift "survival" beach to regain some body heat and
at least enough conscious thought back to my brain to finish up the run. By the time I finally saw
Burnt Mill Bridge come into my field of view on river left, my Left arm was so sore I could hardly
paddle on that side anymore and was forced to paddle on my "weak" side to the shore which was not
the easiest of tasks with the water level well into the trees at that point. The motto of this
story is to never ever, ever, ever, ever paddle alone people!!!! SF was still here to tell about
it. Somebody up there must like me. You think??? Peace and safe paddling to all! 3/15/2009
January 13 2008 (4025 days ago)
Alex ZendelDetails
We did this reach (Brewster to Burnt Mill) as an overnighter for my friend's 35th birthday -
1/12/08 - 1/13/08. I was in a kayak and my friends were in a small raft. The level at Burnt was 700
cfs when we put on and 500 cfs when we took off. It felt slightly low on day one above the White
Oak Cr confluence, medium low on day one below the confluence and low on day two. Regardless, they
didn't have too much trouble getting their small raft, loaded with two people, two dogs and
overnight gear for three, downstream. This is a scenic run with good wilderness quality.
Recommended. A US Park Service ranger pulled up while we were preparing to put on. He advised us to
not leave our rig near the new high bridge at Brewster's. Aparently, local teen agers enjoy hucking
stuff off of the bridge - TVs seem to be their favorite. Park outside of the drop zone!