Turtletown Creek is a cool run, and mainly not for actual run itself. Weird I know, but here is my reasoning and I will admit I'm bias.
I'm biased for the fact the Brian Collins and I got a first D on the run, but that's the tip of the iceberg. I'm mainly more bias due to the fact I spent a couple of summers up in Ducktown ,Tennessee area trout fishing while raft guiding on the Ocoee River, and feel in love with the place.
It has hiking trail beside it for the upper part, so scouting is easy. The trail head is you're put-in, near Farner, Tennessee and you will Forest Service sign if you pay attention and the take-out is off Forest Service road #23,and you will need minor map reading skills, and is on page 26 of my Tennessee Atlas Gazettteer. With today's access issues, this makes it gem just for takeout and put-in alone.
Want a better reason? Turtletown has one of the best watersheds in the area, I have trout fished in the headwaters even in the pastures and caught nice trout, and they love clean water. The headwater area is in pastural land, and acts like a battery on the streamflow, so the creek is slow to rise and fall, and can be based off the Tellico River internet gauge. As Ted Hayes pointed out to me and I agree and have to mention, the river widens out after the put-in, ,and narrows back up at the take-out, so the water by visual only can be deceiving, so you want descent flow at the put-in. The run is short too, and nothing epic.
It has some really nice drops, not that many but two that do situate out on their own and all are straight forward creek boating rapids.
The first big one, is the first big one, named Turtletown Creek Falls just like I said straight forward creekin. But paddlers beware since it is the first real drop of the run, and since the run is pastural until it hits the trail head, it gathers trees like a big toothpick holder. If the trees are gone, at Turtletown Creek Falls the drop will go. It's a tough one, but with a strong group it can be run, and it has been run. If the trees are there, well you're off the hook and will want to walk. If you do walk there are two options, the straightforward point A-point B option is to portage on river left. It is thick over there with rhododendron and mountain laurel and will test you, seeing how your gear will hang up on everything and will be a test of wills to hang on to your boat, while climbing over and under bushes and not drop your boat into a abyss. The second preference is to portage on river right, but this takes you from the action, but is much easier portage so it's really your call on that.
If I was on your trip...we would go river right, (I'm lazy) River right also helps you protect the environment, by not tromping all over 100+ year old laurel.
After the first big one you will paddle some straight forward II-III stuff, and you will come to a big horizon line, and there will be an island. Take-out before the island to limit the pain in the #$%^ factor for scouting. Your other hint will be when you see the tops of trees. Relax, remember straight forward creekin'. The name of this one we named Hourglass. (If you look at the picture Ken Strickland posted on here it looks like an hourglass, so hence the name) So get out of your boat, and now the easy part, the hiking trail is on river right, use it to scout. I recommend all classes of boaters to scout this one. One for safety, but mainly because the drop/slide is so tall, that you need to scout to pick out landmarks to line up on your way down the slide/ falls.
Its really like running two drops, and you can lose your bearings.
Now past Hourglass is another slide , but after running Hourglass it wonÃ¯Â¿Â½t seem like much, might be Class II-III?, then you will have one more major rapid, and your landmark for this one is the Hiwassee Pipe, that is used for de-watering the Upper Hiwassee. Also use the pipe for your signpost for the takeout. Laps can be run here and once you have it wired, running the big ones blind will get your heart rate up for sure. Another option is to paddle the Upper Hiwassee if it is running after paddling Turtletown, but it makes for a long day, and if you want gradient, it's best to stick to running Turtletown Creek.
Footage of this run can be seen on the video Steep Creekin', but a note .The day we shot the footage there was only two of us, and one camera, and setting safety ropes was our precedence, so not all the rapids are on that tape, but is gives you a tease of what is in there.
If you are in the Ocoee River, Coker Creek, and Tellico River area do yourself a favor and check out Turtletown Creek. It's worth it, but like I said I'm bias, and you will be too.
Mark Cumnock Feb 2006
William W. Thornton contributed (2003-02-15):
One of the larger creeks on the southside of the Hiawassee Dries. Starts out with a lot of long class 2 and 3 shoals and slides. Soon there is an big horizon line, this first big rapid, a sketchy 30 to 40 ft. falls. Class 5+. Horrible rhodendron hell portage on the left. Below the falls the creek picks up for a half mile or so to a hugh 60 ft. triple drop slide [class 5] ending in a pool. Several other decent rapids finish out the run into the Hiawasse. We paddled down a couple of miles of big class 3-4 on the Hiawassee Dries to a point where the Forest service road comes along side the river where we took out.
Good run, large watershed runs fairly often. Ted Hayes added (2003-07-14 14:57:26):
The first big drop has been previously run. There is a good line that is presently blocked by wood. I don't know if it would not be easier to portage on river right, because scouting would definately have to be done from that side. The line can't be seen from river left. When you see an island at a horizon line, this is the second big drop Bill referred to. It needs to be scouted from river right as well. We got too close, had to eddy out on the island and walk across to river right. Big drop, but relatively straight forward. Both lines at the bottom were run with no problems. Everything below this was easy to scout with a quick look. We took out right past the TVA flume on river left.
There's no gauge to my knowledge. I thought it looked like a lower medium level, judging by the rapid close to the takeout. But where all of the drops are the stream bed fans out, thus streching the water. If it looks kinda low at the takeout, I'd definately pass.
For a virtual gauge reading www.waldensridgewhitewater.com/Flowpage.htm
Visual inspection. Look at the put-in you want a good flow.
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Turtletown Creek, TN
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