Mulberry Fork, Alabama, US
|Usual Difficulty||II (for normal flows)|
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
The USGS gauge for this section of the Mulberry has been taken off-line as of 1-1-2016. Local paddlers have made a visual gauge with a river cam here:
The foot correlations on the visual gauge at the link are matched to the old bridge gauge at the putin.
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 2' when the surfing starts to get good, though you can still run it well below 1.5'.
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; a side surfing spot below 2', it becomes a front surfing wave at 2' and above. The next rapid, Eddy Hop, 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 can either be a great surf wave or an unpleasantly retentive hole, depending on level. Last, but not least, is Race Course rapid, which ends with a great park-and-play wave called Hawaii 5-O, right by the beach take-out on river left, owned by the Birmingham Canoe Club. 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. But high water Mulberry becomes a big surfing wave paradise.
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: http://www.alabamacupraces.com/
See Alabama Whitewater for more information.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.0||Garden City River Park||N/A|
|1.0||Glen Clark Memorial||I|
Stay to the right of the island. There is a boof rock in the center of the rapid that forms a great ender spot on the river right corner.
Ledge drop rapid. Makes a great surf spot even at lower levels.
Easily identified by the rock cliff on river right, a great place to practice ferrying or combat rolls.
A couple of shoals are just above the surf wave. Even at low levels Hawaii 5-O is a great park and play spot.