Pine Creek, Tennessee, US
Bend in road to Big South Fork
||IV-V (for normal flows)
This run is too short and sieved out to be a classic, and the water quality is as bad as it gets.
(straight piping upstream
But, it has some great drops on it and if you need a fix and nothing else is going, this will do
the trick. This is a good run when the North Cumberland plateau is the only place that got
The run is a little under a mile, and at levels of around 5 feet on the USGS gauge, it is class
4-5. Above 5 feet it is solid 5, but nothing really seems class 5+. At lower flows, there are some
sieves that surface, but the run is easier with a more class 4-4+ feel to it, with maybe one 5.
A good putin is where a little tribuatary comes in on river right, flowing under the road through a
culvert. You miss one good class 3 above here, but there is a gigantic logjam currently blocking
the top, so the culvert region prooves to be a prudent spot to launch. This stream has lots of
wood, sieves, undercuts, so be very careful and pay attention. All the rapids are dangerous, but
most are not very hard.
The first third of a mile is mostly class 3-4. There are around 4 rapids that are bouldery
non-steep affairs with some pins and nasty spots. All boat scoutable.
The next third of a mile is the steep stretch, with 6 main drops dropping around 130 feet total,
for a 400 ft/mile gradient. That's serious shit on the plateau, so scout everything and don't miss
eddies. You will portage at least once.
The first drop of the steeps is what many call Friendly Falls. This is the easiest and most
relaxing drop. It is a low angle shallow bedrock slide tilting slightly right and dropping off of
an 8 foot ledge. The ledge is diagonal upstream to the right, with a v notch at the far right. The
more water you have the further left you can go and away from the notch, though at lower water its
fine to go in the notch since that's where the water is and you are not likely to get beat down in
a hole. The second drop is about 5 feet and is a steep sliding bedrock finish, after another low
The very next drop, Lesser of Three Evils, should be scouted. There are 3 routes:
River right would require very high water and is undercut. Center is tight and questionable but
runnable. Left is the easiest and cleanest, but has a nasty cave at the bottom. The drop is a 4
foot boof that should be boofed right. Land on a good left stroke so the water barrelling in from
the center slot doesn't throw you in the cave. The runout or second part falls from this hanging
pool into the right channel via a nice shoulder boof of 3 feet. Scramble to far right and beach up
in the shallows to scout the next rapid.
Potty Training is next. A junky Jonesesque entrance leads into 2 options: a scrapy ledge drop on
the left with a thin entrance, or the spout on the right. The spout is more ballsy and more fun,
and the sneak is probably not available at lower water. Run down the right bank watching out for
pin rocks and you can either enter on the right wall curl and come back left for the drop, or you
can run the left side of the slot off a hump for a more direct route. Watch the hole against the
left wall though, to the left of the hump. This drop is similar but smaller than Double Drop on the
Lower Cullasaja. The hole at the bottom doesn't seem to be a problem. After this run the left of
center slot, avoiding the undercut left wall and then off a 2 foot ledge on river left.
Now you are above the hard rapid. The left side of the river is a sieve and the right funnels down
a junky entrance and off an 8 foot ledge that lands right in front of a nasty boulder pile. Missing
a boof is a good way to vertical pin and or get beat in the hole. This rapid is serious class 5 and
you will want to portage it with good water. There is an eddy at the bottom of the 8 foot drop, but
ending up here, you will have to get out and walk around the bottom 4 foot choke. Running direct
against the left wall will pop you over the choke if you keep your bow up. Keeping your bow up is
absolutely mandatory though. You can portage on the right, though portaging on the left sets you up
better for a good angle on the next rapid, Kamode Falls.
Right below is Kamode Falls, a sweet ass 8 foot boof. At high water you really don't want to mess
up, as the hole is terrible and could kill you. At levels below 5 feet though, the hole is not much
of an issue. Either way, for a clean line, start river left and drive in low and boof the ledge in
the dip on the right side into the river right eddy. At high water this is serious class 5, due to
the next rapid being a big sieve portage.
Right below and through a class 3 junk pile is the final big drop, Double Drydocker. The right side
could be runnable with really high water, (higher than you want the rest) and is a nasty sieve.
Don't go in there for god's sake. The whole middle is a 15 foot slab slide at about 30 degrees. The
left is a crack in the slide where the drop goes vertical and hits a bad shelf halfway down. Unless
you are in here above 5 and a half feet, you will be getting out and carefully balancing on the
middle rock and then you will slide down into the pool below. At high enough water, you could drive
straight up and over the lip of the slab and on down the slide, but if you go right you are done,
and going left will likely be painfull. At low water you can get out right in front of the lip but
with good water you will catch an eddy right above on the left and then jump the 3 foot channel on
river left to get to the launch spot.
From here the gradient flattens and you have two class 3 rapids right below before you flatten
completely and dump into the big south fork. This lower stretch below the portage is a quarter
Please check the USGS staff gauge on the river left wall on your way out and post the level here so
we can dial it in.
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Last Updated: 2006-08-13 16:27:54