This photo needs editing.
Difficulty II-III+
Length 5.5 Miles
Gauge LOCUST FORK NEAR CLEVELAND, AL.
Flow Range 2.20 - 6.00 FT
Flow Rate as of: 37 minutes ago 1.09 [FT] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 01/07/2018 1:48 pm

River Description


PUT IN INFORMATION
The 'NEW' putin is on the north side of the US 231/79 Bridge near Blountsville. Put in on the RIVER RIGHT side now. Boaters used to launch on the south side, but that putin is now off limits as the owners are not friendly to trespassers. Please spread the word.  Put in on the north (river right) side of the bridge.

TAKE OUT INFORMATION
The take out is on river right at the CR 160 bridge.  The hike up the hill is short but steep.  There isn't much room for parking here.

RIVER DESCRIPTION
The Locust Fork is an excellent and popular whitewater run in northern Alabama.  The late, great William Nealy even got his start here back in the 1970s and highly recommended the run should you find yourself in the area. 

The river is mostly Class II+ at levels of 2.2'-3.5' and transitions to Class III around 3.5' and up, though they say things get pretty pushy but not too washed out at levels between 4'-6'.  Above Swann Bridge, 1.8' is the absolute minimum, and 1.6' is the minimum to scrape down from Swann to CR 160. 

After the put in there are a few Class II warm up shoals before the first named rapid, House Rock.  House Rock is undercut and the main flow pushes right into it, so best to ferry right and catch the eddy before House Rock catches you.  Next up is Tilt-a-Whirl which features some boulders with a pour over on river right and a nice big wavetrain below.  Just above Double Trouble the river will widen with trees scattered in the middle.  Follow the main flow on river right working your way left to miss the rock at the bottom of the turn; this is S-Turn or Tree Rapid.  Land on the island to scout Double Trouble.  At higher water you can sneak DT left of the island.  The main concern at Double Trouble is the undercut ledge the main current flows by.  Some folks run DT starting right and ferrying left into the large eddy on the left below the first drop, others stay left the whole way.  If you get flipped after the first drop and swim, swim to river left and not right because there is a sieve in the boulder jumble near the second drop. Below DT there is a wavetrain or two before Bullard Shoals, which is rocky, shallow and technical but can grow some huge waves at higher water.  There is a large rock wall on river left just above the Swann covered bridge.  

Below Swann things mellow out a bit until Powell Falls.  Before you arrive at Powell there will be another large rock wall on river left you can see from upstream.  Land on river right or at levels below 5' land on the middle island to scout.  Most run Powell Falls about 5'-10' right of the center scouting island.  The hole/haystack at the bottom tends to flip those who don't brace.  The left side does get run on occasion, but there is a nasty hole that develops at high water which has worked many a non suspecting boater.  For that matter there is a nasty hole that develops on the right side too at higher water, between the now covered island some boof over and the standard right line.  Paddlers have gotten worked here as well, and separated from some of their gear leaving them to paddle out with makeshift paddles fashioned out of sticks and any river booty they find useful.  Skirum Creek rapid is just below Powell and is a great place to catch eddies or ferry.  Skirum Bluff is on river right, with a sandy beach on river left.  There is a great play spot after Skirum Bluff called Ender Hole; on good water days there is usually a large congregation here.  There are a couple more wavetrains before the 160 bridge, which can be surfed at appropriate levels. 

William Nealy did a classic map of this run.

CAMPING AND ACCOMMODATIONS
Boogie Bottoms: offers cabins and primitive camping, 4 miles from take out: http://www.boogiebottoms.com/Rentals.html

Rickwood Caverns offers RV camping, open March-October, 19 miles from take out: http://www.alapark.com/rickwoodcaverns/Camping/

Stoney Lonesome OTV Park in nearby Cullman County offers cabins, tent and RV camping.  35 miles from take out: http://www.stonylonesomeohv.us/

Smith Lake Park in Cullman County offers 9 cabins; 219 full service sites; 5 water and electric sites; and 61 tent sites, 28 miles from take out: http://cullmancountyparks.com/smithlake.html

Horse Pens 40 in Blount County: offers rustic cabins and camping, 26 miles from take out: http://horsepens40.tripod.com/index.html

Rapid Descriptions

House Rock Rapid

Class - II+ Mile - 0.4

Tilt - a - Whirl

Class - II+ Mile - 0.9

S-Turn/Tree Rapid

Class - II+ Mile - 1.9

Double Trouble

Class - III Mile - 2

Bullard Shoals

Class - II+ Mile - 3

At lower levels Bullard Shoals is long, rocky and technical.  Start center and work your way left.  At levels of 3' and up Bullard grows some large waves.

Swan Bridge

Class - N/A Mile - 3.5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Powell Falls

Class - III Mile - 4.6

Skirum Creek Rapid

Class - II+ Mile - 4.9
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Ender Hole

Class - II+ Mile - 5.2

County 160 Bridge

Class - N/A Mile - 5.5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Comments

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Open Boater
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1 year ago

Just a comment on the naming of a particular rapid. When I began paddling in the early 80's what is now called S turn or Tree rapid was always know as raceway rapid. Just a friendly comment from a paddler that paddled during that time. Not sure when the name was changed or who decided that it will now be called one of the two names being used, but would be nice to pay respect to those that knew it back when.

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Judith Ranelli
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1 year ago

There has been some confusion about where to put in for the Locust Fork in Alabama. The 'new' putin is north side of the bridge on 79. Put in on the RIVER RIGHT side now. We have been using this north side as the putin for over a year but not everyone is familiar with it yet. The 'old' putin is off limits and the owners are not friendly to trespassers. Please spread the word.

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n/a
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9 years ago

Amen to that !

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10 years ago

The paddlers that love this run should get together and build a better take-out at St. 160. I propose a 5 story elevator system. Meet me there next April.

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Michael Smith
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11 years ago

made this run yesterday at 3.2 on guage at put in ,great level, no scraping, nice scenery. save some energy for the climb out at the nectar brigde, its steep. especially with an open boat.

Gage Descriptions

Gauge at the US 231 bridge. 2.2 is a really boney minimum.

Around 3 feet things bump up to class 3.

Directions Description


We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

Date Flow Result Factor  
2013-08-15 Medium Fatality Poor Group / Scene Management Read More

Alerts

   

News

article main photo

2008 North Alabama Whitewater Festival

2/26/2008
Ben Van Camp

The 4th Annual North Alabama Whitewater Festival, located on Locust Fork of the Warrior River in Blount County, will be held March 7-9, 2008.  The weekend will incorporate whitewater kayaking competitions, games, live music, raffles, arts and crafts, food, refreshments, camping, and good times.The organizers of NAWFest, in conjunction with American Whitewater, plan to raise awareness and money for local and national conservation groups such as Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Alabama Rivers Alliance, Friends of the Locust Fork, and The Husley Little River Trust.

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Andrea Dover

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mark cumnock

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Paul Martzen

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Judith Ranelli

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1203867 12/25/14 Andrea Dover Updated Take Out Information
1193690 04/29/07 mark cumnock Changed gauge from cfs to ft
1203959 12/27/14 Andrea Dover Updated Reach Locations
1203979 01/04/15 Andrea Dover Update description
1203975 12/31/14 Andrea Dover Updated reach information
1203985 01/05/15 Andrea Dover Updated photos and info
1203986 01/05/15 Andrea Dover Updated camping information
1203969 12/29/14 Andrea Dover Updated Reach Description
1204098 01/30/15 Andrea Dover Corrected Spelling errors
1208635 01/02/18 Paul Martzen Changed put in to north side of bridge
1208695 01/07/18 Judith Ranelli Updated putin information