Elk Creek, East fork - First bridge to second bridge

Elk Creek, East fork, Virginia, US


First bridge to second bridge

Usual Difficulty III-IV (for normal flows)
Length 2 Miles
Avg. Gradient 165 fpm

Adam Enters Pinch

Adam Enters Pinch
Photo of Adam Goshorn by Brandon Hughett taken 10/07/06 @ Medium

River Description

East Fork of Elk Creek is located along Forest Service Road 35 just outside the James River Face Wilderness Area in central VA. I wouldn’t suggest driving far for this little gem, but if you’re already in the area and everything else is high it’s worth a look. This small micro creek rarely has enough water, but when it does it rewards paddlers with 2 miles of non-stop class III-IV boulder action with the best rapids contained in the final 1/2-mile. The continuous nature of this creek is reminiscent of paddling in the Smoky Mountains of TN and as with all small creeks paddlers should be on the constant lookout for wood. Luckily much of this creek can be scouted from the road while running shuttle. When it has enough water to paddle there are few eddies on the entire creek so take the time to check for wood before putting on, then you can enjoy bombing down. On 10/7/06 we only had to get out around 2 trees.

With its easy access I wouldn’t be surprised if this creek had been previously explored, however it runs so infrequently I have my doubts. Anyone with additional information or photos is encouraged to comment here or contact me. My knowledge of the history of this run is as follows: Craig Granfield and I (Adam Goshorn) ran a section of this creek including Folded Falls early in the spring of 2003. John Howard also reports a run on Folded Falls later that same spring. Brandon Hughett and I made a run on 10/7/06 from a little below the first road bridge (near Sulfur Springs Trailhead) to the rapid below the second road bridge.


Lat/longitude coordinates are approximate, from Google Maps.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2009-03-26 06:30:56


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Put InPutin
1.6The PinchIII+Photo
1.7Bow Up (part 1)IVPhoto
1.7Bow Up (part 2)III+Photo
1.8Above Folded FallsIIIPhoto
1.8Folded FallsIII+Photo
1.9TakeoutTakeout Photo
2.1Last DropIII+Takeout Access

Rapid Descriptions

Roadside (Class III+, Mile 1.5)

Adam finishing Roadside

Adam finishing Roadside
Photo of Adam Goshorn by Brandon Hughett taken 10/07/06 @ Medium

The Pinch (Class III+, Mile 1.6)

(AG) Brandon finishes the Pinch

(AG) Brandon finishes the Pinch
Photo of Brandon Hughett by Adam Goshorn taken 10/07/06 @ Medium

Bow Up (part 1) (Class IV, Mile 1.7)

Adam hits the boof at Bow Up

Adam hits the boof at Bow Up
Photo of Adam Goshorn by Brandon Hughett taken 10/07/06 @ Medium

Bow Up (part 2) (Class III+, Mile 1.7)

Adam finishes Bow Up

Adam finishes Bow Up
Photo of Adam Goshorn by Brandon Hughett taken 10/07/06 @ Medium

Above Folded Falls (Class III, Mile 1.8)

(AG) Brandon above Folded Falls

(AG) Brandon above Folded Falls
Photo of Brandon Hughett by Adam Goshorn taken 10/07/06 @ Medium

Folded Falls (Class III+, Mile 1.8)

(AG) Brandon melts into Folded Falls

(AG) Brandon melts into Folded Falls
Photo of Brandon Hughett by Adam Goshorn taken 10/07/06 @ Medium


(AG) Upstream view from the bridge

(AG) Upstream view from the bridge
Photo of East Fork of the Elk by Adam Goshorn taken 10/07/06 @ Medium

Last Drop (Class III+, Mile 2.1)
Just beyond the take out bridge is one more good boulder drop that is worth doing and hiking back up to the road.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 4 2011 (2754 days ago)
Phillip Merica IIDetails
D-Lowe and I ran this Sat. 4-16 after alot of rain. I would say it was med-high level and Very
continuous. I would give it a 4+ at this level due to the lack of eddie service, almost none. Most
all of the wood was avoidable in one way or another. Would be nice to see again after some wood
removal. I called it after about a mile or so due to a busted boat and shoulder. It is a little
abusive for us open-boaters, though I think it may have been a first OC1 descent. Overall,Very
Narrow, Fast and Continuous. Think I'll let it simmer down a bit next time. Flip
February 23 2009 (3554 days ago)
John Details
3 of us ran this at LOW...below what i would consider a minimum, but we did it anyway. after seeing
the creek at the takeout bridge i said no way; but it looked a little better upstream. we scraped
all the way, gorilla walked through alot of stuff between drops. we still hit all the drops and the
pools were still deep. only had about 3 portages due to wood. was a good time anyway and a good
'pre-flow' scout run.
February 21 2009 (3556 days ago)
Brandon NutterDetails
I haven't been yet, so I can't speak to actual putin / takeout locations. But from Adam's
description, it sounds like the creek runs along FS Road 35. Doing some preliminary research (in
case we get some rain), I found the following on a USFS trail description for the Sulphur Springs
trail that gets you to FS Road 35: From Va. Route 130 at Natural Bridge Station, turn south on Va.
Route 759. Go 3.2 miles and turn east (left) on VA. Route 781. (At 1.5 miles pavement ends and at
1.8 miles road designation changes to FS Road 35). If you make a scouting run, let us know what you
find out.

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