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Difficulty III-IV
Length 5.4 Miles
Gauge N/A
Flow Range
Reach Info Last Updated 07/23/2020 3:48 pm

River Description

"This is a very nice though short section of Sand Mountian action. The falls at the put-in is a classic and the action continues unabated to the lake. As Short and Scarham combine just above the lake to make on last rapid one has to wonder what was covered up by the lake." - Will Thornton

Short Creek is an excellent intermediate creek run, sporting a squeaky-clean 18-foot waterfall, a thick stack of quality rapids, and relatively straightforward (but strenuous) access logistics. Though there is a 3 mile lake paddle, and the water quality is poor (definitive 3 chickens, by the AL WW standard), this reach deserves consideration any weekend there's local water. In addition to the rapids, the wild (and domestic) animals are often entertaining. Deer, coyotes, herons, and eagles are common sights, as well as herds of goats and packs of dogs near the top of the run. 

Short runs relatively frequently, nearly as often as Town Creek. Thanks to StreamBeam, an online gauge exists so you can check the levels before you head out! It can be found at the link below:

The online gauge updates several times per hour. Look for upwards of 1.5' for minimum flow, and above of 2' for good water. There is also an old (faded) painted gauge on the AL 75 bridge, which serves as an alternate put-in if desired. The online gauge reads approximately 1' higher than the bridge gauge, though the correlation is still being developed. Runs down to 4-5" on the bridge gauge have been done without too much hassle, though at that point it's a test of your tolerance for rocks.

The listed address for the put in is approximate – look for a bridge over the creek with a gravel pull off on the river left, downstream side. It is tempting to park at the Hustleville Road bridge to cut off the warmup rapids, but the landowners here have put up no parking signs on both sides of the bridge. If the water is high and you want a more interesting warmup, Drum Creek is a tributary which enters just above the falls and offers some nice class III water. See Alabama Whitewater for a description. The takeout is simple, park at the ranger station on AL 227 near the boat ramp.

Rapid Descriptions

Put-In (Martling Road)

Class - N/A Mile - 0
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The most common put-in is on Martling Road (CR 409), with the other option being the stream crossing at AL 75. It is tempting to put in on Hustleville Road directly above the falls, but the landowners here have put up "No Parking" signs on both sides of the bridge.

There is a large gravel pulloff on Martling Road on the downstream, river left side of the bridge. Park here and carry your boat down to the river under the bridge.

Warm Up

Class - II+ Mile - 1
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The first three miles of river, between the Martling and Hustleville bridges, consist of easy class II/III- warmup rapids. However river-wide log jams are common, so keep an eye out if you haven't been down recently. 

After you pass under the Hustleville bridge, eddy out on the river left bank to scout the main attraction, Short Creek Falls. If you wash too far downstream the bank becomes a bluff and blocks your exit.

Short Creek Falls

Class - III+ Mile - 3.1
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The falls are very friendly and can be run just about anywhere that has water going over. Depending on where you go it’s an 18 or 20 foot drop. The traditional line is about 10 feet off the left bank, over the top of a small curler. Just don’t go too far left, because if you land on the wrong side of the boil at the bottom, it will shove you into the mildly undercut shelf on the bottom left, where an amusing display of carping will likely ensue. Set safety from on top of this shelf. Eddy out behind it, hike back up and run it again. You can paddle behind the falls on the river right side, and watch your friends go over from behind the curtain. Pretty neat.

Grotto Falls

Class - III Mile - 3.8
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After you get bored of the falls, a few class II-III boogie rapids follow. Keep an eye on the scenery ahead; when you see a sheer cliff face ahead on the right as the river bends left, Grotto Falls is coming up. Following a small slide and ledge combo, beach yourself on the large rock outcropping that divides the flow to scout Grotto. The main line is just a couple feet to the left of the rock you landed on, an easy 8-footer with big boof potential. At low water, keep your boat angled right to miss a piton rock on the left side of this drop. This can also be run further river left as a double drop, just stay away from the undercut bank. 

Tornado Sluice

Class - III Mile - 3.85
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Immediately following Grotto Falls is the infamous Tornado Sluice, which has caused many swims over the years. The line is down the turbulent left channel, entering from either side of a rock which divides the flow. You want to be on the right side of the chute as you finish off, angling downriver, to avoid the recirculating eddy and rock wall at the bottom left. If you get pushed into the wall, just ride it out and roll up before the creek gets too shallow.

Divided Highway

Class - III Mile - 3.9
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Another short pool separates Tornado Sluice from Divided Highway, named for a large fin rock which serves as a median separating two potential routes. Most take the right lane, entering just right of center and merging with oncoming traffic to stay afloat. The left line is navigable at medium flow and above, but has potential to cause traffic jams due to a sneaky pin rock. 

Rock Cruncher

Class - IV Mile - 4
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After the triple stack of Grotto, Tornado Sluice, and Divided Highway, the action continues with Rock Cruncher, perhaps the biggest rapid after the falls. Catch an eddy on the left above the entrance to scout the full rapid. If it isn’t an ELF day you can sneak down the left side, bouncing off a few rocks and into the pool below the rapid.  The usual line is to work from center to right into an eddy on the right bank above the main drop; from here the line is down a chute headed back center to miss the big boulder on the right bank. No doubt you’ll spot a juicy mushroom of water at the bottom ripe for a boof – but watch out! A nasty flake rock is right in the center below the mushroom. Skim the left or right side to avoid getting crunched. 

Little Woodall

Class - IV Mile - 4.5
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A few easy rapids follow Rock Cruncher. The next significant rapid starts after a long pool, where the river doglegs right and the left and center are obscured by large rocks. Take the right side here, following the main tongue of current over a few small shoals, then work back left when possible to find a fun boof against the left bank. Get your guard up now, because a dangerously sticky hole known as Little Woodall is coming up soon. After the aforementioned boof, work back to center and then right around a few boulders, and then bolt for a big eddy on the left bank beside a tall rectangular boulder. Most of the current goes river right over a 3-foot, boxed in hole, which I have personally spent time recirculating in and do not recommend that experience to anyone. The conservative line is to bang down the wet rocks at the bottom of the eddy, but if you have the soft goods you can boof the hole. Make sure you have some buddies ready to rope you out from the right. 

Scarham Creek Confluence

Class - III Mile - 4.6
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After Little Woodall, a long boogie rapid leads to the confluence with Scarham Creek. Hike up and take a look at the last rapid on this tributary, known as Terminator (class IV or V), and run it if it looks good to go. Below here the creek widens significantly, and with the added flow from Scarham, presents some good play opportunities to celebrate finishing the hard stuff. Surf waves and fun boofs abound. Look for a good ender hole in the second rapid past the confluence on river right.

Lake Guntersville

Class - N/A Mile - 5.5
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After a number of wide, easy rapids, you'll reach the lake. If you work far right on the last rapid, you'll find a fun 4 foot boof to end the day with. Additionally, the eddy line on far river left (or is it lake left?) presents one last opportunity for stern squirts as the creek dumps into the lake.

Once you reach the flatwater, celebrate the fact that you made it down the notorious Short Crick, and prepare yourself for the 45-minute, 3-mile paddle out. Just follow the channel all the way to the boat ramp. When the lake doglegs to the left for the first time, don’t get too close to the island or you’ll run aground.


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Robert Bone
14 years ago

Witnessed a bad piton running the rt slot boof @ Gratto Falls while making a low water run on 3/12/06. Had run Short 2 days prior and everyone who ran that line had no problems. I probed the area just below the drop on Sun after the piton and there is a boulder or shelf just under the surface across the entire line of the 8' boof. Take caution while boofing this drop, a pencil would probably not break any bones, but it will put a nasty dent in the front of your boat. The main - double drop of Gratto is good to go at both levels.

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Robert Maxwell
15 years ago

Short Creek's Paddlers gage is located on the SR 75 Bridge. There are actually two SR 75 bridges crossing Short Creek. The gauge is on the upstream bridge (NE bound traffic) on river right support. Best seen from river right, upstream side of the bridge.

ELF: 6"
Low: 9"
Medium: 2.0'
High: 3.0'

Short Creek is best correlated off of the USGS Scarham Creek gage.

When Scarham is:

170-200 cfs Short is 9"
350-400 cfs Short is about 2 feet.

As for Town Creek, its not as good an indicator as Scarham, but its a good backup gage:

When Town is:

500-600 cfs Short is 9"
1400 cfs Short is about 2 feet

I have an Excel 2000 spreadsheet that predicts the levels for Short Creek and several other rivers in the southeast. If you

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todd bilbrey
17 years ago

Marty Montana (THE LEGEND!) and I ran Short creek for the first time this weekend. Not sure of the level, but from discriptions' of the 18' I would guess that it was over 14", just a guess. we ran the high point in the center and there was no scrapping, just big smiles. we put in about 2mi. above the Big one, class II with one or two Class III. At this level Great class III/IV with a couple of Class IV+ bekow the falls. I would say that it is a lot harder than Daddy's Creek, TN at 1.9, Little River(sinks section) up to around 4.5', citico @.5 over bidge(only level run), but not as hard as Five falls, Talluha@500. It is a run that is worth checking out. Town was @ 600, but as I said before compare to the discription of the falls I'd say that it was over 14". The area is Beautiful.
WARNING: Better have a shuttle driver, No parking safe parking at put-ins'. Water fall put-in: ranger said that we would Get Towed and Possibly charged with Tesspassing, posted no parking. The lake paddle makes you look forward to the Chattooga Paddle, But the ACTION UP STREAM MAKE'S IT WORTH IT! Once you are pass the 18' water fall the action starts and does not let up till the lake.

No Gage

Gage Descriptions

Based on Town (TVA) with a dash of Locust (USGS)

Directions Description

The takeout is at the Ranger Station on AL 227. Make sure you leave the big spaces near the ramp for trucks with trailers, as fishermen love this spot too.

Put-in is on Martling Road (CR 409). Park in a gravel area on the river left, downstream side of the bridge.

Google Maps should be able to guide you between the two locations.

No Accident Reports




Kellis Kincaid


william w. thornton


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1215606 07/23/20 Kellis Kincaid updated name
1210968 01/26/19 Kellis Kincaid updated description
1189869 11/29/04 william w. thornton n/a
1210965 01/26/19 Kellis Kincaid updated description
1210966 01/26/19 Kellis Kincaid updated description
1210967 01/26/19 Kellis Kincaid updated description
1212883 06/12/19 Kellis Kincaid updated name
1212885 06/12/19 Kellis Kincaid updated description
1212887 06/12/19 Kellis Kincaid directions to the river
1212886 06/12/19 Kellis Kincaid updated description