Grassy Creek is a long time favorite of the Russell Fork crowd, a very fun, very doable steep creek -- continuous and technical ledges and slides with easy scouting.
First run by Jeff "Jabber" Adams and James Stapleton in the early 90's, it's run fairly frequently now. At low to mid levels it is Class III-IV, but large water pushes it to a solid Class V. There are no major undercuts or seives in play on this run, but the bed narrows to 4-6 feet in a couple of rapids and there are very pinny spots below medium level. A couple of spots collect wood, so should always be scouted before running.
The putin is off a wide spot on Highway 80 just below the Gateway Motel (right side as you're heading toward the Breaks Park from Kentucky). The creek runs into Kentucky where it meets the Russell Fork. The takeout is at Ratliff's Hole, a half mile downstream. You should note that the takeout is the regular Russell Fork takeout. Grassy comes into the Fork well below any of Russell's big rapids, just shoals to the takout. The takeout is located at the river access on HWY 80, about 2 miles east of Elkhorn City.
Although the run is pretty continuous, there are 5 significant rapids, in order of appearance: Split Tail (Lickety Split), Double Drop, Confluence into Hatfield's Revenge, Big Bang, HyperSlide into Chokehole.
The first couple hundred yards is fairly gentle, boulder garden, slide, small ledge combos. After a 5 foot diagonal ledge drop (best run on creek left) you'll be nearing Split Tail. This is the one to carry, if you're going to carry one. A wreck in this one would lead to serious injury. Easily portaged and scouted from creek right. In this rapid, the creek bed pinches down to about 15 feet wide to begin down to about 6 feet at the end. The stream flow is split by a knife of rock in the creek bed. At low and medium flow, enter in a left side seam, sliding about 30 feet through a trough, then dropping 6-7 feet into the narrowest part of the bed, where the split stream comes back together. At high flows, enter and run the right side instead!
Double Drop comes up next after a bit of shoals. Once again, the creek pinches down a bit into two quick 6-8 foot ledges with, of course, ledge holes. Best run powering off the left side.
A couple more shoals separate Double Drop & Confluence Rapid. Confluence is a 3 parter, beginning with a long, narrow slide that opens back up (the Nozzle) where Center (right) and Laurel (left) Creeks meet Grassy. From there, the bed widens banking right into another banking slide to the left. This slide ends in Hatfield's Revenge, a nasty creek wide hydraulic. This is the longest rapid on the creek, about 100 yards. Enter Confluence rapid in a seam toward creek right, working left quickly. From there, hang on until the bed opens back up. After you pass the confluence, begin working to creek right. Halfway around the curve, a large curling reaction wave is coming off the right bank. Let it take you toward creek left to punch the hydraulic as far left as possible (if you miss the curler, get far right and hope for the best).
The next major rapid, Big Bang, is about 100 yards down stream. It will follow some ledges and short slides. This rapid begins with a 7-8 foot slot drop followed by a gentle slide that ends in a 9-10 foot creekwide ledge. You can enter this rapid on either far left or far right, although most take the right hand slot. At the bottom of the slot, work down the center right (without getting too far right) and aim just left of a boulder on the ledge. Boof hard into the eddy below the ledge. If you run it right, you'll hear where it got its name.
Catch your breath for the biggest grin of the run! Hyper Slide into Chokehole is immediately below Big Bang, an 80 foot long steep, narrow, curving slide that ends in a huge eddy. (OK, it ends in a huge hole, then a huge eddy.)
Pull out of Big Bang Eddy and make an exagerated 'S' from left to right to left to right into the main slide (which then comes back left). Don't worry about the hole, you're going so fast at that point it barely slows you down. But it will flush your sinuses! Jump out on creek right and carry up & run it again.
Below HyperSlide there are about 200 yards of boulder gardens to the Russell Fork. Be careful not to pin!
Big tree in hyper slide..... I mean a huge tree!! Us that live around here are working on getting it out!!
Check the IFLOWS Page. If the Breaks Park gauge is reading over 1.5" in the last 12 hours, Grassy is probably running.
Gerald has installed a visual gauge on the bridge just upstream of the putin. Haven't had enough water yet to dial in the flows, but 0 would be a minimal level.
There is a rock at the foot of the tree at the bottom of the path leading to the creek. The "Stapleton Minimum" is when the creek is touching the rock. That is a high medium flow.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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Jeff running Hyperslide
Jeff in the hole at bottome of Hyperslide
Jeff at bottom of Hyperslide
Johnny at Hyperslide
Palmer runs Hyperslide Backwards
Robby runs Lickety Split
Palmer runs Lickety Split
Lickety Split scouting
Lickety Split (bottom)
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