Little River (Lower Townsend)
|Stretch:||Special Peoples Park to Canyon Exit|
|Flows:||225 cfs to ?,000 cfs (obviously would be more class II at higher flows). USGS Little River above Townsend gauge|
|Gradient:||17 fpm average|
|Put-in:||Public access side of the Special Peoples Park on US-321|
|Take-out:||Small park on US-321 just downstream of the canyon|
|Shuttle:||3.1 miles, 5 minutes one way|
|Season:||Fall to Spring, Rain fed (occasional summer off of large storms)|
This was the first trip to the river I took solo with Aster. We had 2.25' on the gauge, which we all thought would be a more satisfactory flow as you can kayak the upriver sections just a smidge higher. However, the river gets wide a few times and this resulted in some shallow sections. I would say that while the 2.25' was a fine flow, it was also probably as low as I would try to go.
The trip is nice though, it goes through the first gap between the Smokies and the Valley downstream, giving nice forested scenery and at times, almost a canyon feel. However, the road is not far away through most of the float so the sound of the highway is present. There are also houses throughout the run so seclusion is not the name of the game. Some are rundown, some are pretty nice. On the bright side, this means that on either side of the river you have an egress path in case you run into issues or decide this isn't for you.
The day we did this, Aster and I joined, Jim/Cassie/Layla, and Jeff Moore. We got to the end of the day thinking our excitement was over for the day. Cassie and I stayed with the kids while Jim and Jeff retrieved the put-in car. Minutes after they left a motorcycle pulled up and asked us if we had a cell signal and there had been a terrible accident and help was needed. We were able to get a 911 call out and began to lightly worry that Jim and Jeff may have been involved. Our cell signal disappeared and we couldn't get a message out to see if they were stuck in it the traffic or what. And hour went by and our worry turned more significant. Finally, they drove up, the accident happened a few cars in front of them, so they ended up having to wait a while to get past it and then in the huge traffic line that developed to come back through it downriver. We were glad to see them though!
- Boogie (I). There is boogie throughout the run, no large flat pools. Which is great, as so many class I runs have big flats to have to paddle.
- Gap Entrance (I to I+). After the initial long straight away, the river makes a sharp right turn and you get the biggest waves of the day. We just ran down the middle.
- Wide (I to I+). The river makes a left bend and opens up into a wide section. This part is the low water limiting factor in my mind as it was shallow. I could also see the precision required to dodge rocks and pick a deep water line could give people a challenge if they are not accustomed to the river or having great boat control.
Take-out: From Walland, continue on US-321 towards the Smokies, away from Maryville. Follow for 2.4 miles to the river access spot on the left.
Put-in: Continue for 3.1 miles into the outskirts of Townsend. Turn left into the “Special Peoples Park." Note, the first entrance is reserved for people with disabilities. Therefore, use the second entrance which as far as we could tell was a separate, and open access portion of the park.
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