Obed River (Canyon)
|Stretch:||Devil’s Breakfast Table (Daddy’s Creek) to Nemo|
|Difficulty:||Class III to IV|
|Flows:||>500 cfs on Obed at Lancing. To put in on Daddy’s you need at least 1.1’ on its gauge.. Check out USGS's current gauge and AW's current Daddy's Creek gauge.|
|Gradient:||26.4 fpm average, 45.7 fpm from miles 5.1 to 6.8|
|Put-in:||Either Daddy’s Creek at Devil’s Breakfast Table or downriver at the confluence|
|Take-out:||Nemo Bridge on Catoosa Rd|
|Shuttle:||11.5 miles, 20 minutes one-way. (all good dirt)|
|Season:||Winter and Spring, Rain.|
|Featured in Video A Wet State #97|
Very similar to Clear Creek into the Obed, this run offers very nice scenery along with nice class III to IV whitewater. It makes sense that it is similar to Clear Creek since Clear Creek is a tributary that enters half way down this run… and thus both runs share the same paddle out. And I gotta say, that although this run can be done down to 500 cfs, the paddle out at 1,000 is a bit of a drag. I even thought when we did Clear Creek at 2,600 cfs the paddle out was slow and the pools long. But is that enough to keep people away, not at all. Why? Because this run has some great scenery, and when the rapids are going, they are very enjoyable full of moves, lots, and waves, and of course the river tends to hold water well after the rain has fallen allowing desperate weekend warriors to get their fix when the rain water has subsided.
There are two methods of entering the canyon. Either via Daddy’s Creek which adds a 2.3 mile paddle in and reduced the shuttle from ~40 minutes to ~20 minutes, or the direct approach which involves the longer shuttle and a 1 miles hike. All said, Daddy’s is probably the quicker option and you get to paddle more. However, At the lowest flows, Daddy’s will not have enough water to float down. Our day of 1,000 cfs on the Obed was approaching the low water limit of Daddy’s (1.1’).
The rapids are a nice mix of class II during the paddles in and out, and class III to III+ rapids. Rock Garden is a standout rapid that in addition to having more challenging moves also has some consequence to it. Scout this one if you are stepping up on the run as it is harder than the rest and approaches class IV. It is however, easy to walk if you decide to.
But as I said, the main attraction here is the scenery . With bluffs rising high above you, you feel as if you are deep in the wilderness. Additionally, overnight beaches and swimming holes are available for those wanting to draw out the experience. Or if you prefer, you can also mix a multisport trip and take climbing gear with you to climb some of the bluffs that surround the river. All in all, it is quite a nice section of river!
- Daddy’s Creek: The first 2.3 miles are a nice pleasant class II float to the confluence with the Obed. The river has few pools in this section so the miles go by fast. A few rapids perhaps get to a class II+ level, one in particular is against the left wall where the water deflects right and through a small hole.
- The Obed enters on the left. The river keeps moving though due to the size of the river, certainly some of the pools become larger.
- Action Starts when you see the canyon walls begin to rise up off around you. The first few rapids are read and run and class III-.
- Ninety Right-Ninety Left (III). A fun rapid which is obvious as the river is blocked by large boulders. We entered down a small channel one channel off of the right shore and made a 90 degree turn left to drive down the main chute. Fun and unique move.
- Oh My God (III). I honestly don’t remember the specifics of this one… except that I wanted to slide a rock on it but thought better of it since everything is sandstone. In general we went down the middle and drove left at the bottom in front of a large house sized rock.
- Rock Garden (III+ to IV). A nice rapid with some fun moves to make. At the low water you want to avoid being left early as it is rocky. At all flows you want to avoid being right at the bottom as there are some pin spots and a sieve in play. At the low flow we had the line was to eddy out right half way down which is definitely a class IV move in terms of difficulty and consequence. From there, ferry back hard left and drive through a hole to stay moving left. I have to imagine this rapid gets a lot easier when you can just stay left the whole way at higher flows.
- Submarine Falls (II+ to III-). Straight forward but powerful, this rapid consists of one sharp drop in the center/right channel that you want to hit hard and straight. The hole flushes, but packed enough power to flip an unwary boater.
- Clear Creek enters on the right. Rapids ease and are less frequent. However the pools are longer and more frequent.
- Widow Maker (III). I don’t know if each of these rapids have different names, but this straight away is rather fun and is one last hurrah before the real flat water starts. The first was where a nice section of bedrock crops up on river left and funnels the water down through several nice waves. The second one was just a nice wave train that had a nice surf wave that had an eddy just to the right of it for easy on the fly boarding.
Below, the river was more flat than not.
- The Emory enters on the left, and at the low flows was not more than a trickle. However the river changes name and adopts the Emory as the new name.
For more details on the run, see the AW write-up
Take-out: From Knoxville, head up 162 then 62 to the town of Wartburg. On the far side of town, turn left on N Kingston St and follow it for 0.2 miles before turning left on Main St. In 0.1 miles when Main St bends right, go left on Bonifacius St and follow for just 0.2 miles before turning left on Catoosa Rd (I think actually Bonifacius turns left and at the 90 degree bend and then the road name changes to Catoosa). Either way, then follow it for 5.5 miles down to the river.
Put-in: Continue on Catoosa Rd over the bridge rising steeply. As you level out follow the road on a quick jog to the left and then back to the right. After a total of 1.9 miles turn right at the fork to enter Catoosa Wildlife area and follow Island Creek up. You stay on this road for 7.1 miles before getting to a large four-way intersection. Turn right and drop down the 2.5 miles down to the parking area at the bridge over Daddy’s Creek.
Alternate Put-in: If you want to hike into the confluence instead, you can see the trail on google maps. Go back to Wartburg and leave town heading North on Main St (Old Highway 27). Just down the grade take a left on Montgomery Rd. Follow this for 2.9 miles before turning left on TN-62W. Follow this for 4.7 miles before turning left on TN-298 S. After 2.3 miles look for the left on Potters Chapel Rd. Just after the clearing on the right there is an old dirt road that drops approximately one mile down to the water. This options takes 38 minutes of driving plus a mile of downhill hike. It is longer overall, so if Daddy’s has water… put in there. Why wouldn’t you?
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