Little, Tennessee, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-IV (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||150 fpm|
|Max Gradient||180 fpm|
|LITTLE RIVER ABOVE TOWNSEND, TN|
|usgs-03497300||3.20 - 5.00 ft||III-IV||00h28m||1.56 ft (too low)|
This is one of the best runs in the park, and no one ever does it. It runs alot too. It has excellent scenery and class 3-4 creeking. It is similar in difficulty to Upper Tremont, but lacks the bone jarring jank that Tremont is known for. The rock here is smoother and more naturally placed. There are tons of boofs in the 2-3 foot range and high quality rapids throughout, with a nice intense middle stretch of a half mile.
The hike to the putin is 3 miles, but is as easy as hiking with a boat ever gets. A shorter hike can be done 2.3 miles to Huskey Gap Branch Falls, a little feeder coming into the river from river left under a little wooden bridge. For more action that is worth the extra 10 minutes of hiking, continue up to where the big railroad tie bridge crosses the Little to river right. Cross and then putin here on hte upstream river right side.
After puting in there are a handfull of quality boulder rapids down to the short put in at Huskey Gap Branch Falls. If you are putting in here, you can slide in under the bridge and run the last 15 feet of the feeder falls. Its more fun than it looks. After this beautiful and clear pool, the river does several bends away from the trail. During the first bend, most rapids are class 3, but after a junky ledge next to a trailside bench, the second bend prooves more suprising. A bounty of great class 3-4 rapids appear in ever increasing succession, untill after several juicy sets, the big one appears.
Obvious from the trail about a mile and a half into the hike, The Scrambler is harder than it looks. Most of the river drops down a channel on the right with the bulk of the flow going into a rocky impediment. To avoid unknown consequences, hit a huge 6 foot boof into the eddy on the right. Spin back out over the runout and admire from below, the secret class 4 stash of the Little River. There is a sneak on the left that is tight and requires decent levels, but it is fun too, consisting of a smooth double drop with a mandatory backwards finish. You'll see. (This added by Brandon Hughett: the center line of this drop has now been run by several down the main flow of water over the small boulders. However, there must be sufficient water to do this. I've not hit any rocks on the 3 runs I've made and know of a few others who have not had any troubles either. This line looks harder than it really is. Look before you leap and make sure there's plenty of water.)
You are now in the steeper and pushier stretch where there are a decent amount of easy class 4 rapids. The gradient gets close to 200 ft/mile here and the river is chocked full of boulders and smooth metasandstone bedrock. This stretch has the same character as Upper Big Creek, but class 3-4 instead of 4-5. Many good boofs and slots later you reach the last big one, which splits at an island.
At Trials and Tribulations take the left channel and grap a quick scout by eddying out river left. The entrance is a sweet boof left or a tricky drive right. The key is that for the bottom ledge you want to be right, as middle and left have pins and pitons that wouldn't be fun.
Below the second big one, the river tones down to all class 3, with a few more great class 3+ rapids.
You can run the last junky rapid above the bridge at Elkmont Campground, but I like to take out just above it. You will know when you are there when you pass some of the old Elkmont settlement on your left and can see the bridge over the river at the bottom. Get out on the left and walk back to the car.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|1.2||The Melting Pot||IV|
|2.1||Trials and Tribulations||IV|
The river funnels down through a hole studded sluice in the center of the river. At the end of this sluice is a boiling drop that lands you into a undpredictable pourover. It flushes well, but inversions are common.