Gauge Description:

The readings above are for the Oconaluftee River, which is the next drainage to the south of Big Creek. Upper Big Creek is almost certainly running when the Oconaluftee is between 1,200 and 2,400 cfs;  it is generally running when the Oconoluftee is as low 850 cfs. 

It is often true that when the TVA's Little Pigeon at Sevierville (not the same as the USGS's Little Pigeon at Sevierville) gauge is between 1,500 and 3,000 cfs, Big Creek is likely to be running.

The main way to tell if BC is running is to pay attention to the rain. Pin Oak Gap is an excellent rain gauge for Big Creek. It is only 2 miles from the south side of the watershed, and usually if Pin Oak Gap gets rain, Big Creek gets it too. Look for an inch in the past 24 hours during times of good saturation, and 1.5 inches in drier times.

Cataloochee Creek is another indicator. If Cataloochee gets over 350-400 cfs, assuming even rainfall distribution, BC should be running. Usually though, there are usually acute local variations in rainfall totals between these two watersheds.

During wet times, BC is the most frequently running class 4-5 creek run of its character. It runs more often than the West Prong, Tremont, or Middle Prong/Ramsey's. It has been known to run for weeks during rainy summer periods, providing a sweet creeking fix nowhere else to be found.

Currently the only physical gauge is located on the Mt. Sterling Road bridge. The gauge is spray painted yellow and resides on the upstream side of the midstream river left pylon. This gauge is not located in a very good spot and has a significant surge. Take 10 readings every 3 seconds and average them to get a reading that most can agree on. Here is the breakdown on levels:

2.1-2.3 - You must be desparate.

2.3-2.5 - Some people might call you desparate but you can still get your boof on.

2.5-2.7 - This is the realm of legitimate low

2.7-3.0 - perfect for mortals, a nice medium

3.0-3.3 - medium high, with the 3.0 range being the perfect level, and the 3.3 range changing the run from class 4+ to intense and scary class 5.

3.3-3.8 - This is plain high. Many do it at 3.5 once and say that was enough. Fun, but enough. If you do it at 4 feet, once might be all you get from Big Creek ever again. Anything above 3.5 is officially too high for all but a few junkies.

It is often true that when the TVA's Little Pigeon at Sevierville (not the same as the USGS's Little Pigeon at Sevierville) gauge is between 1,500 and 3,000 cfs, Big Creek is likely to be running.

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
OCONALUFTEE RIVER AT BIRDTOWN, NC
usgs-03512000 1200 - 2400 cfs IV-V 01h04m 565 cfs (too low)

gauge graph
RangeWater LevelDifficultyComment
1200 -2400 cfs barely runnable-high runnable IV-V gauge is important or has warning

Reports give the public a chance to report on river conditions throughout the country as well as log the history of a river.