Big Creek watershed flows north from the Big Frog wilderness to the headwaters of Parksville Lake just above the private boater takeout for the Ocoee. The run remains in a remote gorge with excellent scenery.
The action starts about a half mile into the run. The first horizon line will signify a slot rapid on river left. Around half way through the trip rapids of difficulty will become more frequent. Scouting may be necessery at a few blind drops. One rapid is a 10ft ledge off the left side into a big pool. The right line drops off into a nasty boulder sieve. Once you come to rebar and an old dam, the gradient picks up again droping around 50 ft in a few hundred yards creating some nice drops to end the run.
As with all small watersheds watch out for wood on this one.
Here is a video of all the major rapids:http://vimeo.com/9566577
Ran Big Creek on 3/6/2011 at 6". Significantly higher then I've done it before. It felt like a nice low medium. So, I'll have to revise my earlier estimates of low, medium and high levels.
ELF is probably -3 inches
Low is 3ish"
Medium 6 to 8
High is probably 12
Since I know the run, I would try it at 12, I wouldn't recommend it if you haven't done it before. But don't worry, wait 2-3 hours and it will be medium!
This is a micro creek and collects a lot of wood. This weekend the first drop in the first gorge was blocked by wood and had to be portaged. At 6" the water was so high, it made scouting "Scream Like A Little Girl" very difficult. (best scouted on the left) All drops MUST be scouted due to wood. At 12" I don't think there will be any eddies on the approach to "Scream" so, be very careful once you are in the middle of the first gorge.
More water makes the second gorge great. The auto boof on "Big Bottom" is amazing.
This weekend Holly Creek at Chattsworth was over 1000 and still rising when we put on, Mill Creek at Crandal had just peaked over 300. And Big Creek was falling. So again, to catch Big, you must put on shortly after the rain ends. There seems to be only a 6 hour window of runnability on this one, even in the best conditions.
Put it on your radar. Its worth a trip.
Big Creek is a fun class III - IV+ (Vish) run, however don't expect non-stop action from top to bottom. About 1/2 mile into the run is "The Dunkin' Hole". After that the creek is continuous Class II-II+ boogie with a couple of Class III's thrown in. After about 4 miles you come to the first Class IV-IV+ gorge. The gorge is about 1/2 a mile long with 3 sweeeeet drops including "Scream Like A Little Girl". A fun 10 footer. Then Big creek settles down once again to class II-II+ boogie water. When you see the old rebar/pipe on river right and the river takes a turn to the left, you are at the "Loop". This marks the beginning of the second gorge. It is also about 1/2 mile long with a set of great drops. Shortly after that is the confluence with the Ocoee and the take-out. Its a lot of fun and worth doing, but don't expect non-stop action from top to bottom.
Big Creek is one of those runs that start dropping within an hour or two of when the rain stops. Look for about an inch of rain at the TVA Ocoee #1 and #2 gages and at 02385800 HOLLY CREEK NEAR CHATSWORTH, GA. Using 02385800 HOLLY CREEK NEAR CHATSWORTH, GA as an indicator: look for Holly to be spiking above 600 cfs and going towards 1000. Big Creek will start dropping hours before Holly peaks. So, if Holly is dropping, its probably not worth driving up to Big Creek.
The paddler's gage is on the upstream river right of the put-in bridge. If the level is around 6", the creek will fall about 2" per hour, at 0" it will fall about 1" per hour. 0" is a good medium. -4" is probably a minimum, with +4 to +6 as a high. I wouldn't put on above +4 if you havn't run the creek before or if you aren't a solid class V creeker. If you get there and it's too high, go run Go Forth Creek then come back and check the level.
When we ran the creek TVA Ocoee #1 had 1.4" of rain #2 had 1.3" rain. USGS Holly Creek got 1" of rain. The rain stopped 5 hrs before we got to the put-in. Big Creek was at around 3 ft in the early AM. Probably crested 8-9 hrs before Holly Creek Crested. We put on at 14:00 when Big Creek was 0" and falling while Holly creek was 1290 cfs and still rising. At 19:00 when we went back to the put-in Big Creek was -6" and Holly Creek was 1370 cfs and falling after cresting at 18:00 at 1390 cfs. The key to catching Big Creek is to pay attention to what time the rain stopped. The TVA gages are useless for this but the USGS Holly Creek rain gage is great!
Hope this helps! Paddle Safe! -- Rob
The footing ledge on the put-in bridge needs water even with the top of it for a minimum.
Permits are not required for this reach.
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The Major Rapids of Big Creek,TN
(RM) Big Bottom
(RM) Scream Like A Little Girl - Milt
(RM) Scream Like A Little Girl - Sean
(RM) Scream Like A Little Girl - Peter
(RM) Scouting above Scream
(RM) The Slot wash out
(RM) 1st Gorge - 1st & 2nd drops
(RM) Class III eddie hop
(RM) Tree Limbo
(RM) Below Dunkin' Hole
(RM) The Dunkin' Hole - Sean
(RM) The Dunkin' Hole - Milt
(RM) The Dunkin Hole and ledge
Big Creek 2nd Gorge
Big Creek Small Drop
Big Creek 1G 3D
Big Creek 1G2D
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