Little Pigeon, Middle Prong, Tennessee, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV-V (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||300 fpm|
|Max Gradient||330 fpm|
|LITTLE PIGEON RIVER ABOVE SEVIERVILLE, TN|
|usgs-03469175||1500 - 4000 cfs||IV-V||8y44d09h02m||227 cfs (too low)|
This run is the mile above the seldom run hike-up Ramsay's run and requires an almost 3-mile hike to get to the putin. The run is well worth the effort, though, with many great drops and the paddle out is on one of the most intense and quality runs in the park. It is a great way to add even more bang to an already solid run.
To get to the putin, hike up the Ramsay's Cascades Trail 1.5 miles to where the Ramsay Prong confluences with the Middle Prong. Ferry across the river here to river left and walk along the bank upstream until you find a faint but easy to follow path. This path will turn into a trail as it soon climbs around 200 feet to the flatter streambed terraces above the river. Upon these terraces the trail remains for around 1 mile, and there are frequent over and under encounters with downed trees. The trail will become a little fainter and then plummet 50 feet down to the river at the Confluence of Buck Fork. Putting in here yields a high quality mile of boating that has a very similar feel to the Lower West Prong, but without the bigger drops of Amtrack or Room without a view. The action is continuous, and though there are a few logjams, all but one is avoidable.
After sliding in, there is a nice boogie section before the biggest logjam. Portage left, or run carefully with two sketchy tree duckings. After this there are no major problems. The run consists mainly of tight boulder jumbles that can be rather blind. There are three standout rapids that have great character. On the first, the river tightens and channelizes against the river right wall of Metasiltstone bedrock. Here the river drops 3 sliding ledges and the currents are fast and unpredictable. After several more fun boulder gardens the next big one is Speckled Falls, a tighter answer to Big Creek's Midnight Hole. Run the center slot and get a big boof off of this sweet 8 foot drop. Watch the hole and the pocket on the right, as they are pretty powerful. The final rapid of considerable note is a nice zig zag affair against a river left wall of bedrock. Watch the pockets and pinch sieve on the left, and enjoy the ride.
After the zig zag rapid is a nice long easy boulder garden before the confluence with Ramsay Prong and the beginning of the really hard stuff of Hike Up Ramsay's.