Thunderhead Prong, Tennessee, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||300 fpm|
|Max Gradient||321 fpm|
|LITTLE RIVER ABOVE TOWNSEND, TN|
|usgs-03497300||3.60 - 5.50 ft||IV||00h30m||2.38 ft (too low)|
This is the most quality section of whitewater in the whole drainage of the Middle Prong of the Little. It is short but very sweet. It is about 0.6 miles from the confluence with Sam's Creek down to the putin for Upper Tremont at the confluence with Lynn Camp Prong. In this stretch the river averages over 300 feet per mile, which is quite intense with good water. At low levels this run is class 4, but at high water, have the class 5 skills to have good chances of survival.
Hiking up, you will cross an iron footbridge. You are just upstream of the biggest rapid on the run, which pretty much runs all the way down to Lynn Camp Prong. Take a quick look to make sure its clear of wood and remember to turn the game on when you get here on the creek. Continuing upstream through the great rhododendron scenery the smokies are famous for, take an occasional look at the creek to ensure that no wood lurks. It was totally clean as of 12/06 except for one spot halfway down. After crossing over a branch coming in from your right, be ready to start looking for the confluence with Sam's Creek. Some have hiked higher on both branches above here, but it's mighty small.
After sliding in, run a short boogie series before launching a blind and totally awesome 8-foot rocket launch of a boof. The stream then picks up and holds to class 4 all the way down to the footbridge before the last big one.
The big one is best run down the middle with lots of speed and no flipping over. There are holes in here with good flows so heads up on that too. When you get to the takeout, hike back up for many more, or head down Tremont with good water and watch out for the rocks!
Best run in the area for sure!