There is a campground about 10 miles from the Bear Creek outfitter, called Rock Bridge Canyon Equestrian Park. They have basic tent sites for $10 a person per night with a very nice, clean bathhouse. They also have camper sites with hookups for $25 a night.
There are several trails on the property that you can hike, and the lady who runs it can give you maps and information.
Be aware that there are no restaurants nearby except for a diner in a shell station, and it doesn't serve food on Sunday.
I have run this river many times. It is a great run in the middle of summer. There is water every weekend. We use the Bear Creek Canoe renters at US Hwy 43, Hackelberg, Al 35580 ( 1 800 788 7070 /205 993 4459 ) to haul us back and forth on the river. They only charge us $10.00 per Kayak. It is a pretty float with a a couple of fun play spots. We usually run each spot several times. It is only a short carry up the left side of the river . even with stopping we can make the trip in about 4 hours.
typically, as Tom K. mentioned, Old Mill Falls is split into 3 parts:
1. The main line on river left (anywhere...but good boof center or far right)
2. Sidewinder Falls, the little waterfall pouring into the sluice.
3. A line called "Reverse HammerFactor"... it's like a mirror line of HammerFactor on the Green River Narrows....but a LOT smaller. The problem is the seriously undercut r. right shelf and the potholes and caves in the river left wall that the ledge pours into. The line isn't difficult...but it's easy to slide off the angled shelf into the hole to soon...and/or pitton into a deep pothole/cave. It's a fun line to try if you've got the skills and proper bank support. ;-)
This about the upper two sections of the Bear Creek Floatway.
This a class I (VI) stream that runs weekends all summer thanks to TVA
It's located in NW AL and is a great training stream and students get to
paddle Old Mill Falls which has several lines ranging from II to III in the
upper section. The left side is kind of creeky and can be boofed in the
center while the right side is an easy slide to a 2' drop. There is also an
angled slot that has been run successfully but has a treacherous hole if you
don't hit your line just right.
There is alot of flatwater in the lower section broken up by a few class I
drops. A large rock outcropping is a great place for lunch and to watch
people surfing a very nice class II surfing wave. You can also use this as a
"jump rock" for seal launches as it sits about 6' over a deep pool.
200 yards downstream the entire river funnels into the left side and drops
vertically about 20' into a boulder jumble. (VI) Mandatory portage! The
runout at the base of Factory Falls has some very busy aereated water that
is not easy to enter due to the size of the narrow channel. There is an
opportunity here for stern squirts, enders and loops if you dare, the hole
at bottom may slam you into a rock on river left at higher levels
It's in a scenic gorge so if you catch in the winter you will get to see
alot of high bluffs and waterfalls as your paddling the 4-5 miles of
flatwater to the takeout.
Many who have paddled it refer to it as the "Alabama Death Paddle" but
everytime we schedule a trip we have no trouble filling it. It's a favorite
for novice / newbie paddlers.
It's nine miles long but the actual whitewater totals only 1/4 mile. You can
eliminate 2 miles but you miss Old Mill Falls.
TVA releases 210 CFS but is more fun around 300 CFS. I think I have paddled
it at 450 CFS but some features start to wash out.
Not a bad day trip from Memphis, Huntsville, Birmingham, etc.
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A River Rat's Dream
Sidewinder Falls of Old Mill Falls
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