Hunt's Branch - HWY 80

Hunt's Branch, Virginia, US


HWY 80 (Upper Grassy)

Usual Difficulty V+ (for normal flows)
Length 0.7 Miles
Avg. Gradient 440 fpm
Max Gradient 440 fpm

First drop on Hunt's Branch

First drop on Hunt's Branch
Photo of First Drop, Hunt's Branch by Steve Ruth @ low

River Description

Hunt's Branch is often referred to as Upper Grassy, although it is a separate creek that runs in to Grassy. Russell Fork veterans might recognize this creek as the one the runs behind the Gateway Motel and up Highway 80 toward the Breaks Park. It is narrow, technical and continuous, falling 280 feet in only .6 of a mile.

The creek was first run by James Stapleton and Jabber Adams around '92-93. It wasn't fully run again until '02. Only a handful of locals have run this up to now. Must be scouted before running for wood and seives. Very few places to stop! Recently it has been run at lower water levels and paddlers have seen boards, tires, gas tanks, etc. in the narrow creek-bed. There is also a major logjam that must be portaged about a quarter-mile into the run.

The creek doesn't run that often, but catchable in periods of rain. And if you miss it, you can always run the Russell Fork instead.

The putin is located in the wide space on the right side of HWY 80 about .5 miles above the Gateway Motel/Laurel Shop. Putin just below the culvert that runs under 80. You can either take out at the Grassy Creek putin, about .25 miles below the Gateway or run on down Grassy to the Russell Fork and on to Ratliff's Hole.

Run Description (provided by Matt Delong): When putting in just below the culvert (there are a few smaller rapids above the bridge) you will encounter a series of slides leading into the first major rapid. A large blasted rock—which serves to narrow the creek plenty enough to dislocate your shoulder—has been conveniently placed at the top of Slideways. There is also a second nicely placed boulder at the bottom right of the drop that should be avoided. Slideways can be scouted from the road, and is followed by boulder gardens leading into an 8-foot vertical drop that can be run anywhere except river right. This fun drop is followed by another, slightly steeper stretch of boulder gardens with two trees to be avoided near the end.

A well-deserved break begins after this set of rapids, but is followed by an 8-10 foot drop with a must make eddy. This narrow drop should be run on the right side with right angle to catch the river right eddy. Be sure to keep an eye out for nails or other sharp metal objects while portaging the logjam. Also, you may find yourself portaging slightly downstream to avoid the double undercut which well positioned for decapitations at lower water levels.

After a little warm-up the creek turns down and right into the meat of the run. You will need to stay away from river right on this first rapid and then be prepared to navigate some very tight passages. Further downstream is a 3 foot drop shortly followed by an 8 foot drop underneath a log followed by a fun slide that should be run to the left.

Following this rapid is Clay’s Cavity, the climax of the run. Clay’s Cavity consists of two large rocks, one at the top of the drop and the other at the bottom, aligned so that boof angle and boat placement is critical. This rapid can be easily scouted from river left to avoid filling the cavity in the left side of the bottom rock. Just downstream lurks another set of decapitation rockshelfs, but there is some room for error on this one.

Another break begins after the undercuts with some fun slides and smaller drops, but Hunt’s Branch isn’t finished yet. Next to the Gateway Motel you will find the steepest stretch of boulder gardens with a little wood thrown in to make it interesting. Some of this boulder garden can be seen from the road, including the pin rock in midstream just before the confluence with grassy. Keep paddling from here and enjoy some much less demanding, but equally fun water on Grassy Creek.
StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2006-03-24 08:47:48


Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.

No Comments

Do more than just check gauges; join over 5,000 AW members today.

Or, consider donating