Located just north of Jasper, Blackwater creek is a scenic 4-mile trip with Class II rapids and shoals. This makes a great introductory whitewater trip for the beginner and seems to run more often than many other rivers in the state. This is probably due to higher rain amounts to the west and a swamp upstream acting as a capacitor for the flow. Blackwater will go up to a level after a rain and then hold there for a day or two rather than falling off sharply.
At 500 cfs, there is a great surfing wave adjacent to a Boy Scout campground which is complete with picnic tables and shelter (a great place for lunch). There is one good, long Class II+ rapid with a good surf spot in the final drop. Ideal level is between 500 and 750 cfs. A 1500 cfs trip will be a quick run with fast water and big waves; the longest rapid may have big holes at this level. Over 500 cfs, there is a fair bit of play on several spots along the river.
If you're looking for a shuttle, the owner of the craft shop adjacent to the take-out bridge will provide this service for a fee. As a footnote, fishing in the spring is said to be excellent on this creek. (Murray Carroll)
The second week of December is a wonderful time for Christmas parties – early enough to minimize conflicts on people's social calendars but late enough that people are already in the Christmas spirit. My calendar showed a full weekend of parties starting Thursday night, so obviously I lied when the phone rang at 8:01 Sunday morning and the voice at the other end asked, “Did I wake you?” Now I was a bit groggy, but when my buddy Chris Parker started talking 340 cfs on the Locust Fork I managed to struggle out of bed to check the internet and call the River Chick. Indeed the Locust Fork was running 340 cfs – AT SAYRE!! The gage at Cleveland (the one that matters) read something like 42 cfs and 1.25 ft. Well, I’m out of bed and moving now and Chris is still trying to set the hook with talk of 240 cfs on the Blackwater Creek. Stuff like, “You know, the hardest rain was west of here.” and “Murray says 300 to 600 cfs is good, so it may be scrapy, but it’s worth a look.” So around 10:30 I hooked up with Chris, Richard Brown (a.k.a. The Turtle) and Kerry Appleton in Hartselle and off we headed for Jasper.
10:30 and headed for Jasper – should anyone be concerned about this? Did I mention that my social calendar was full? Well, Sunday night’s engagement was just Kelli’s family – something about her little brother’s birthday… Well, It turns out that Mr. Foshee’s maps don’t provide a lot of detail (street names, etc.) so we took the scenic route to find the river and run the shuttle, but we finally made it and there was water! The gauge read about 0.5 ft, but we were afloat.
(A bit of bad news for you downriver folks, The Turtle seems to look to Chris as his mentor and the two of them wore out every 6” high wave on the river.) This is not necessarily a challenging river but there are some interesting class II drops and a few nice play spots. I know many people don’t think it counts if you flip while playing, but I thought the whole point of a decked boat was that you just roll over and do it again. I’m not going to mention any names, but it wasn’t me and The Turtle never came out of his boat either. We pulled off the river in the twilight and left Chris with the decomposing deer while we ran the shuttle. One dead battery and a big loop through the back woods of west Alabama later and we were back at the Shell Station in Hartselle a little before 7:00 pm. “Yes, I’m alive. Sorry I’m late. Please call Kim and tell her Chris will be home in half an hour.” With another couple of hundred cfs of flow, Blackwater Creek looks like it would be a nice change of pace from the Locust or Mulberry. It was definitely a nice change of pace from the last 2 months of dried up nothing. In case you were wondering, Kelli’s family must love me, because they waited on the cake and ice cream until I got there. Happy 30th Birthday, Kerry!