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Difficulty IV-V
Length 0.85 Miles
Gauge Pine Creek one mile above Big South Fork confluence
Flow Range 125 - 350 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago ~ 25.3421 [CFS] ℹ️ ⚠️
Reach Info Last Updated 08/13/2006 4:27 pm

River Description

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 significant rain.

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 angle ride.

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 mile.

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.

Rapid Descriptions

Twist and Shout

Class - IV Mile - 0.3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Biggest of the paddle in rapids, it is a right to left affair through some frumpy holes with good water.

Friendly Falls

Class - IV Mile - 0.35
Good fun. Double drop of around 15 feet.

Lesser of Three Evils

Class - IV+ Mile - 0.4
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Boof right through the left slot, away from the bad cave on the left.

Potty Training

Class - IV+ Mile - 0.45
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
At high flows, there is a sneak, but the main line goes down the right side off of an 8 foot converging slot drop.

Big Sunshine

Class - 5.1 Mile - 0.5
Serious 8-10 foot drop with serious consequences. Portage right is easier, left lines you up better for the next rapid.

Kamode Falls

Class - IV+ Mile - 0.55
Sweet boof, bad hole at high flows, sieve portage right below. Boof right.

Double Drydock

Class - Mile - 0.6
At all but the highest levels, you have to portage the top of this one. After getting onto the shallow slab in the middle, its a simple 15 foot slide to the pool below.


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Allen Brown
15 years ago

I ran into a television news crew with camera from Knoxville on 07/16/05 while running the BSF. They were doing a story on how the town of Onieda, TN pumps thier raw sewage straight into this creek. Just thought you might want to know.

Gage Descriptions

The Big South Fork is a relatively poor indicator of what this creek is doing. All it says is what the region has as far as water. This creek has around a 12 square mile drainage, so if the rain fell here, it will go. Look for around 3/4 inch of rain as a minimum at the afws Onieda gauge. It holds for a whole day, better in the winter.

There is a USGS staff gauge a tenth of a mile above the BSF confluence on a river left wall. From the takeout walk along the creek untill you see it. It was done at 5.3 feet, which felt like a medium high level, with clean in between but some terminal holes. I would think a low minimum would be around 4.5, but post your trips so we can dial this one in. This reading is way more important than the BSF reading, unfortunately there is no online connection.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports




Kirk Eddlemon


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1193816 08/13/06 Kirk Eddlemon n/a