Fires Creek is a narrow steep roadside whitewater run. Even though it has a large watershed, good access, and is near several whitewater outdoor centers, Fires Creek has attracted little local attention.
Unlike other similar creeks Fires has no single spectacular large rapid. However when the gauge reads 400 cfs or more the creek is literally a 6-mile rapid with a western feel. The run is genuinely fun and very constant in character. Fires Creek is narrow and thus there is always a strainer hazard, but the creek was relatively clean in early 2003.
There is a bridge about halfway down the run but boaters can access the stream to put in almost anywhere. Taking out is slightly more difficult but not a real problem, because of the nearby road. "The two miles above the horse camp from the concrete arch bridge down drop at an average of 200 fpm. Sure didn't feel that steep. Very continuous gradient, no big drops." Brad Roberts, 2003 Clay County AFWS Rain Gauges
Try this Google Maps linke to locate or get directions to the take-out.
I agree with the 400 cfs number as the minimum, but I would look for 500+ before running it again. It was "bang/scrape" at 430 cfs, but a raft (Stinger) was able to complete the bottom half of the run with little more difficulty than the hard boaters on the river.
I think 500, or maybe 550 cfs is a better minimum. Another option is to look at the bridge where the turnoff is for fires creek rd. Look for the Center cement bridge piling to be about a foot underwater, or for all the bolts holding the beams to the cement piling to be underwater.
I re-read Allen's trip reports after my first run of Fires Ck (March 6th 2011) and couldn't describe it better:
It's gorgeous. All the wood around blind corners makes it scary. Otherwise it's a blast. USGS Nantahala had peaked at 1,400cfs a few hours earlier. Fires was dropping gradually, so it may have peaked about the same time. Wonderful, near-bankfull level.
8 years ago
by Mark Mershon
The gauge is on a nearby stream.
Look at the low-water bridge near the bottom of the creek and if water is flowing over the bridge the run is good.
The top two miles are much smaller in width and have a reduced flow. Unless there is really good water consider the horse park put-in.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Last Drop of Side Creek
Fires Creek 3
Fires Creek 2
Fires Creek 1
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!