Ok, I finally got my first chance to run the upper section of this creek with two friends in flat water kayaks (and me in my solo whitewater canoe) just yesterday, Mother's Day, May 9, 2010 and it was an excellent overall day on the river! We put in just down stream of the one lane bridge and dam at Coward Mill Rd with the obnoxious barking dogs across the creek and took out just down stream of the Solway Rd bridge where the gauge is located and was still showing about 6.1 ft when we passed it. We did a lot of scraping at a guestimated pretty much minimal running level of 135 cfs. It was reading 141 cfs when I left the house after the 9AM reading on USGS Water Resources at SOLWAY, TN and it read 130 cfs when I got back home after a late lunch/early dinner at Hidalgo's Mexican Restaurant in Oak Ridge. I won't run it at any lower than this, for sure! Class II rapids were definitely more prevalent and more enjoyable on this upper run than they were on the lower run and strainers were not as frequent as I had expected. Although, there was one good sized tree limb lying across the majority of the creek flow right around the Hope Church area just upstream of the Pellissippi Pkway bridges where I had to portage in my open boat since I didn't want to risk going under it while one of my kayaker buddies got sucked into it sideways and swam with minimal to no injuries, thank goodness, and our third party kayaker went successfully under it. Then came the overall best class II rapid of the day just between Hope Church and Pellissippi Pkway which got the flat water kayaker without a spray skirt (the one who didn't swim) the wettest all day! We named it the "Praise the Lord" rapid (because of it's locating near Hope Church). Next up for us is a full run of both upper and lower in a day trip after a solid rain and around 200 cfs of non-scraping rock flow!
Put in at Solway Bridge just upstream of the bridge and gauge there. Paddled under one downed tree somewhere before the Swafford Bridge and swam there in the cross-current because of the angle I had to take to get under the tree while ducking down in my canoe to go under it. Other than that, it was an uneventful and pleasant paddle with occasional class II rapids and a few series of riffles along the way. After a 5 1/2 mile run, I took out at the TVA take-out (followed the AW recommended run to a T) where I had parked my truck at the gate up at the top only to find after walking up the long hill that the gate wasn't even locked (even though it has like 3 padlocks on the chain and appears at first glance to be fully secured). I opened the gate and drove my truck all the way down to the water's edge to re-load for the trip back home. Pretty convenient if it stays that way all the time, but the flat water paddle at the end of this run was pretty brutal. My next run will be the upper section from Coward Mill Bridge to Solway Bridge, which is just short of 4 river miles and no flat water to have to deal with. Hopefully it has more sections of rapids than the lower section does.
"If you get in Beaver Creek before Coward Mill Rd, you'll hit a pretty decent drop (Coward Mills Falls) that is a solid class 2/3 @ 400+ CFS with some decent rapids immediately flowing for the next 1/4-1/2 mile or so. The CMF doesn't appear to be runnable, except for a tight line on the right at anything below 200CFS. CMF is located at 35.96867874332763, -84.14744138717651, with an easy hike up the nearby railroad track to a put-in that is about 1/8 mile upstream." First off, there is not really a very good place to park and leave your vehicle on Coward Mill Rd unless you are close friends with a home owner right there near the creek or you want to leave your vehicle on the East side of the bridge there. You can park right before the one lane bridge and walk your boat through the woods on the very short trail to the creek just after the falls and the bridge but I would not feel good at all about leaving a vehicle there unattended for half the day while paddling. Secondly, CMF does not appear to be runnable right now because of a fallen dead tree on river right where the dam is left open because of the natural rocks right there. As far as the other published "put-in" on Solway Rd is concerned, you could park up the steep hill at "Solway Park" about a block or two away from where you would have to first leave your boat there at Solway Rd bridge over Beaver Creek. The take-out spot described is also inaccessible but there is a public boat launch at Guinn Rd Park a couple miles plus downstream over flat water on Melton Hill Lake. Once I run it from the Coward Mill Road bridge to the Guinn Rd Park boat ramp, I will add another comment on how it went.
If you get in Beaver Creek before Coward Mill Rd, you'll hit a pretty decent drop (Coward Mills Falls) that is a solid class 2/3 @ 400+ CFS with some decent rapids immediately flowing for the next 1/4-1/2 mile or so. The CMF doesn't appear to be runnable, except for a tight line on the right at anything below 200CFS. CMF is located at 35.96867874332763, -84.14744138717651, with an easy hike up the nearby railroad track to a put-in that is about 1/8 mile upstream.
There is a usgs gauge under Solway Road, and it just came online.
There is another staff gauge someone put up 10 yards upstream on river right of the Swafford Road Bridge halfway into the run. Might be hard to read from the bridge, but 1.6 feet is a fine level, and I would imagine 1.3 would be a minimum. Go as high as you want. If it looks good at Swafford or Solway bridges, it will go.
The new USGS gauge is Beaver Creek at Solway. You can reach it on the USGS Tennessee page. I would think 100 cfs would be a minimum, and max is up to you.
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Coward Mill Falls
Mr Bizzle, team upstream
Swafford Road staff gauge
side surf spot
Surfin west knox
Sean Surfing a smoothe wave
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