You can put-in below Kinlock Falls, or above it if you want the thrill. It is a straightforward III+ 24' high two part slide into a deep pool. If you like what you see, by all means have fun**. Use extreme caution while walking along the path around the falls, the bluff walls are sheer and the footing can be treacherous during icy winter weather. Fatalities have occurred in this area due to slips and falls. The first mile below the falls is probably the most unique and beautiful in the state. The stream is tiny, "micro" would best describe it. The canyon walls plunge nearly directly into this water wonderland. During winter, the canyon walls are coated with sheets of ice and long, sparkling icicles. The stream is so small that at one drop, a wide beamed tandem canoe would probably not pass through. After the first mile more feeder creeks join the flow and the bluff line backs slightly away from the waters edge. Thompson Creek joins the flow to form the Sipsey River after 2.75 miles. The trip description from this point on is the same as the Thompson Creek trip and includes one Class II/III rapid. (Murray Carroll)
This is indeed a very beautiful run, especially so with leaves on the trees. As of June 2001, there were several logjams that had to be dealt with. Two of these were big and no fun. Still a great trip. These may be gone as of mid 2002. (**Mark D')
It was Thursday. The Bankhead was being hammered with rain. Mark and I both had weaselly excuses for not being able to paddle when the water was optimum: like work, or picnics, or other insignificant (compared to paddling) reasons. By Sunday, when we were able to make it, a lot of the water had already run out. Fortunately, Hubbard Creek still had enough water (by Mark’s prognostications) for a reasonable paddle. We headed for the headwaters of the Sipsey.
The water at the put-in was pretty low, not much more than a trickle, but we figured it was enough for adequate lubrication on the big slide just a few hundred yards downstream and to scrape the rest of the way to the Sipsey. We tossed the boats onto the creek.
We did a careful bank scout of the 25-foot high slide, which is called Kinlock Falls. Mark’s most important goal was the placement of my camera for a good picture of him. Mark had a smooth, straight down the gut run which produced a good picture. For my run, I sideslipped a bit toward my on side, giving at least the impression in the picture that I was side surfing my way down. In this case, the picture was far more important than running the slide.
From that point on, it was a 9-½ mile race to the takeout: a real cardio vascular workout. The Bankhead scenery was spectacular and incredible: beautiful waterfalls on the side creeks, clear water, rock overhangs, and fern covered cliffs. The scent of magnolia blossoms filled the air. Even at the speed we were traveling, we were able to take in a good bit of it. The only problems we had between the put-in and the confluence with Thompson creek were several massive logjams that had to be portaged.
Between Kinlock Falls and the takeout, there is only one rapid of significance, Ship Rock Rapid, a pretty good Class II/III chute between large boulders with a big rock at the bottom. I caught the eddy on the left at the top and Mark grabbed the one on the right. I went first, figuring I could run it straight down the left and use what appeared to be a nice pillow of water to bounce off the rock at the bottom. I got as far as the pillow; the rock grabbed me and held me there while the creek proceeded to fill my boat with water. I had to do quite a bit of rock bracing with paddle and hands to keep from going for a swim. After what seemed like an eternity (actually about 3 seconds), I slid off the rock and into the eddy below with half a boat of water. Mark saw my folly and ran to the right and had no problem, but only after I had set up to take his picture.
The rest of the trip was uneventful. It was just a long paddle through more spectacular scenery under perfect weather conditions. The whole trip took less than four hours, including time to scout Kinlock Falls and make at least two major portages around logjams. On the way home, we made the obligatory stop at Lamar Marshall’s store in Wren to look at the museum like exhibits and fill my comeback cup with coffee.