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Difficulty III-IV
Length 1.2 Miles
Flow Range 1200 - 2000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 38 minutes ago 216 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 12/06/2019 2:15 pm

River Description

Cliff White first clued me in to this run. Kelly Creek is short, small, fun, and very close to Birmingham. The good part begins in Kerr Gap just off I20 exit 147, east of Birmingham not far from Moody. It is somewhat similar to Chitwood, but runs longer due to an upstream swamp. The swamp acts like a sponge, making flow peaks less severe. I agonized over whether to list this as a III or a IV. The vast majority of the run consists of class III's, but there are a couple rapids that are at least III+'s and may be solid IV's at some levels.

There is a short warmup after the Hwy 78 bridge, then the class II and III begins. You pass under a railroad bridge, and the drops get gradually bigger. There are a couple easily avoided undercuts. The rapids are all drop/pool. Two of the rapids towards the end are fairly large and might be IV or IV-. It's hard to characterize the boundary between III and IV on micro creeks. Do yourself a favor and don't go downstream of the first Winnataska Dr. bridge. Below there lies only Gum trees and flatwater as far as we could tell.

*update 12/2019 - Kelly as a new gauge thanks to Streambeam.  The gauge is at the takeout bridge and the link is here:   Correlations to the putin painted gauge will be added when available.

Kelly Creek also has a USGS gage many miles and tributaries downstream.  It seems that about 1500 cfs on the gage is a good low/med level. We ran it with about a 2' air gap under the put-in bridge river left piling horizontal cross member.

If you follow Winnataska Dr. to the next bridge downstream, you encounter Camp Winnataska. Next to the camp is a big 30-35 foot two part slide falls. To run it, you would have to do a 4 mile bridge to bridge (Winnataska Dr. to War Eagle or CR27) run because the folks at the camp are not going to let you take out on their land. I think this stretch will be quite flat except for the falls. There is something called Dukes Mill at War Eagle Rd, so perhaps there is another feature there to be investigated. We felt that 1500-2500 cfs would be a good level to run the falls.

All from Alabama Whitewater.

Rapid Descriptions


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Judith Ranelli
2 years ago

The USGS gauge is so far downstream, it may show Kelly as running when the creek has already dropped out. There's a painted gauge at the putin. I asked a friend who paddles Kelly Creek often about his recommended levels on the painted gauge; he replied: "2ish and rising is min, I've run it at 5+, and would do it again, but only with a really strong group. Of course, right now, I wouldn't run it before checking the tree situation." Another friend reported that at 4 ft it was "pretty intense, continuous class III+, two big logs halfway is a mandatory portage". The two large trees across the creek have been there for some time and have caused some serious incidents.

Gage Descriptions

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Directions Description

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Judith Ranelli




Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1213974 12/06/19 Judith Ranelli updated description
1213975 12/06/19 Judith Ranelli updated description
1213976 12/06/19 Judith Ranelli updated stats
1195764 08/12/09 Rob Added Lat/Lng coordinates and run length
1193695 07/11/05 n/a n/a