Alabama Whitewater

Big Creek

  • Run
    Big Creek
  • Class
    I-II (III)
  • Put In
    AL99
  • Take Out
    CR26 on Wheeler Lake / Elk River
  • Length
    5.7 miles (including lake)
  • Gradient
    20, 25, 45, 10, 25, 10(0.7)
  • Watershed
    7.9 square miles
  • Primary Gage
    • Townsend Ford (see text) 0'
  • Indicator Gage
    • none

Description

Big Creek is one of the few whitewater runs in North Alabama that is west of I-65.

from Gary Holder:

Big Creek from O'Neal to Shanghai is an easy I/II run with one Class III waterfall and lots of small river wide ledge type drops on the section above Townsend Ford. Below Townsend Ford the creek quickly transforms to moving water with gravel shoals. The last quarter mile of the lower section is impounded by Wheeler Lake.

One-half mile downstream and just upstream of a multiple box culvert is one of larger small ledges. The box culvert itself has good tilt with surfing options at the effluence. The next rapid terminates under an old iron bridge with a possible hole forming at higher flows on river right under the bridge. Below the bridge, the gradient lets up momentarily until you pass the only gravel type shoal on the upper section. Next up is continuous tilt interspersed with small ledges. A clearing with tributary on the right marks the top of one of the more interesting drops.

Big Drop is up next with scouting recommended on river left. Big Drop has a very obvious horizon line and there is a picnic shelter on river right a few hundred yards upstream that can provide additional notice that Big Drop is imminent. Big Drop is wide and can probably be ran just about anywhere with the more interesting/challenging lines on river left.

Just below Big Drop is a sweet double drop followed by one pool and then boogie water to Townsend Ford. The rapid below Townsend Ford is the longest and most technically challenging rapid on the run. There is an undercut near the bottom of this rapid that could be hazardous to swimmers. This undercut is near or left of center where the water is moving diagonally from river left towards river right and may not be visible at higher flows. After the Townsend Ford Rapid, there is at least one front surfing spot and gravel shoals with occasional imbedded timber.

A practical minimum level would be being able to float across the low water bridge at the put in. It has been run at zero on the Townsend Ford gauge (downstream headwall river right) with a little too much scraping but no walking.

Details

  • Class
    I-II (III)
  • Gradient
    20, 25, 45, 10, 25, 10(0.7)
  • Length
    5.7 miles (including lake)
  • Watershed Size
    7.9 square miles
  • Put In
    AL99
  • Take Out
    CR26 on Wheeler Lake / Elk River
  • Shuttle
    AL99 / CR26
  • Water Quality
    water quality ( 2 chickens | 1 = Good, 3 = Gross)
  • Primary Gage
    • Townsend Ford (see text) 0'
  • Indicator Gage
  • Precip. Gage

Map

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