Mulberry Fork - Above Old US 31 to Whitewater Drive

Mulberry Fork, Alabama, US


Above Old US 31 to Whitewater Drive (Lower Mulberry)

Usual Difficulty II (varies with level)
Length 3.2 Miles

Backender at Lunch Stop

Backender at Lunch Stop
Photo of Hill Harman by Kevin Schaffer @ 1.5 ft

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-02450000 3.80 - 20.00 ft III+ 1y298d03h58m 8.41 ft (running)
From 8 to 12 feet and beyond, the Mulberry becomes a playboater's paradise. Over 12 feet, large waves form that are the best in the South. Gauge (Drainage = 365 sq.mi.) is at the put-in for this reach, thus should accurately show actual flow in this reach.

River Description

Put In Information
Put in at the Garden City River Park, located on Old U.S. Highway 31 past the water treatment facility.  

Take Out Information
The Birmingham Canoe club owns the take out at the end of Whitewater Drive in Hayden, Alabama.  It's advised that paddlers use the changing rooms and don't trespass on nearby landowners property.  Parking in the cul-de-sac outside of the BCC parking lot is also not permitted.  

If the BCC parking lot is full, you must drive back towards the put in, cross the bridge, turn left at Short St (or 10th St) in town, left again on to 2nd Ave/River Rd/CR509 and drive 2.7 miles along this road on river right and park on the side of the road on the bluff overlooking 5-0.

Note on Flow Information
Locals understand the online gauge reads anywhere from 3.3'-3.8' higher than the actual river levels (marked on one of the old pylons of the US 31 bridge).  At one time minimal flow to make the run was 3.8' on the online gauge which meant a level of 0.5' on the bridge gauge.  The description which follows, as well as the flow information, is based on the online gauge.

Also, USGS moved the gauge further upstream two years ago and the new gauge does not correlate 100% with the old levels, however, the flow ranges have been updated on this page to accurately represent the levels using the new gauge.

River Description
One of the most popular whitewater runs in Alabama, the Mulberry is a fun, wide play river enjoyed by both beginners and experts at different river levels. 
Most paddlers prefer flows over 4.5'-5' when the surfing starts to get good, though you can still run it well below 4.5'.

The first mile is pretty tame. After the island things begin to pick up a bit.  There are a number of play spots which come in at various levels.  Below the island, the first good play spot is called Training Wheel.  It's one of the most consistent features on the river at all levels.  The next rapid is creeky and technical at lower levels, and full of waves and holes at high water - at higher water, some beaters affectionately refer to this rapid as 'seat-less chaps' (perhaps because of the wild ride you'll get if you do this one upside down or out of your boat).  You'll know you are getting close to Lunch Stop when you see the rock cliff/bluff on river right.  This is a great place to catch eddies, ferry, surf or practice your combat roll.  After Lunch Stop is Mary's Hole, which is a great surf wave at levels of 4.8' and better.  Last, but not least, is Hawaii 5-O.  There are a series of shoals, which grow large wavetrains at high water, leading into the final rapid.  5-0 is another consistent feature on the Mulberry.  It can be surfed at lower levels, just be cautious as it is extremely shallow at lower flows.       

Note of caution: the higher the water, the bigger the wave trains and holes with very few eddies.  

Alabama Cup Races
The Mulberry is the site of the Mulberry Fork Canoe & Kayak races held in February/March each year.  For more information visit the Alabama Cup Races website:

See Alabama Whitewater for more information.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2015-01-08 18:23:49

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Garden City River ParkN/APutin
1.0Island RapidI
1.4Training WheelIIPlayspot
1.6Technical/Creeky RapidII
1.9Lunch StopIIPlayspot Photo
2.4Mary's HoleN/A
3.2Hawaii 5-OIITakeout Playspot Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Island Rapid (Class I, Mile 1.0)

Stay to the right of the island.

Training Wheel (Class II, Mile 1.4)

Ledge drop rapid.  Makes a great surf spot even at lower levels. 

Lunch Stop (Class II, Mile 1.9)

Nathan Hatch runs Lunch Stop

Nathan Hatch runs Lunch Stop
Photo by Landy Clendenden taken 04/15/11

Easily identified by the rock cliff on river right, a great place to practice ferrying or combat rolls. 

Hawaii 5-O (Class II, Mile 3.2)


Photo of JEREMY by ROB BECKMAN taken 03/09/03

A couple of shoals are just above the surf wave.  Even at low levels Hawaii 5-O is a great park and play spot. 

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
June 1 2005 (4526 days ago)
Heath McClainDetails
me and a few of my buddies were casually dancing to some low-playing modest mouse at the takeout a
few weeks ago.. my cousin noticed a man in complete camo, filming us.. 8 feet away.. when politley
asked what he was doing, he would not reply. to make a long story short he finally cut off his
camera, called us juvanile asshole lickers, and that the authorities would see what we were doing..
he used the example, "would you want your daughters and wives to be video taped by your
neighbors?" (that made no sense to me..) anyway the man's elevator doesnt quite go to the top
floor judinging by his example.. haha. so be careful.. by the way the water is coming up and should
be great it always is.. even with crazy ass mountain people..
March 24 2002 (5692 days ago)
Hill HarmanDetails
As a note, I'm the guy in the picture at the top of Lunchstop. The level says 1.5', but that is
from the bridge gauge at the put in. To estimate the bridge gauge reading subtract 3.3' from the
internet gauge stage reading.
April 17 2001 (6033 days ago)
Matt MuirDetails
Posted on Boater Talk ( on 4/17/01 by "Paddler": All ye Mulberry
Fork boaters take note. Although the water is about gone, a few people go up in the afternoon to
mess around. I was one of them. Last week I was doing a towel change at dusk and our neighbor had a
few choice words for me. Two days later when I went back I had a "little" trouble with my
truck upon leaving the river. The problem turned out to be a half gallon of sand, rocks, twigs,
leaves, and a little water to soup things up in my gas tank!!! Please for your own sake use the
changing room. Also do not drink at the take-out, smoke a bowl or have words with McCrary. I must
point out after McCrary cursed me I simply left. I did not respond in any way as I did not want to
provoke him. ;-O A lot of good that did me. Please get the word out to be careful at the takeout.

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