Old Whiteoak Creek
|Stretch:||Clifty Creek Rd to Clifty Creek|
|Difficulty:||Class IV to IV+|
|Distance:||0.9 miles (plus 0.5 miles in the Emory)|
|Flows:||No gauge currently. Even with the pad of the diagonal bridge supports is low. If it looks high, don't do it.|
|Gradient:||475 fpm for a quarter mile in the meat (223 fpm average for the creek)|
|Put-in:||Bridge over Old Whiteoak Creek on Clifty Creek Rd|
|Take-out:||On the Emory river, just upstream of Clifty Creek. Park at Clifty Creek.|
|Shuttle:||1.4 miles (5 minutes one way)|
|Season:||Fall/Winter/Spring from rain.. needs a lot of rain. Like 2+ inches in the previous 12-24 hours.|
Karl Whip got the First D on this creek several years ago. Since then, it lay dormant, known but not chased. A few groups had swung by after heavy rains to find it too high for their tastes. But everything changed this year. A month ago, a large group of Tony Robinson, Justin Cullars, Steve Sanborn, Sarah and Mike Averdson, Boyd and Sam Ruppelt and potentially others descended on it the same day. They reported back an excellent highwater option, when everything else is flooded, and only 30 minutes from Knoxville. Since that day, several more groups have gotten it, including me.
My day was a week and a half following my torn muscle on Section 0 of the Chattooga. I was not planning on boating this day to continue to heal my arm, but when people mentioned this creek as running I changed my plans as these rains don't come every year.
Arriving at the creek, I find Daniel Talley having just finished a lap. He reported it low. Too low for him to do another lap. Caleb Paquette shows up a short time latter and says it is low as well, and not worth it low as he has done it before at that flow. Next the eternal optimist, Jim Janney, shows up. He, like me, has not done it. We are motivated to give it a go if there is enough water to scrape down. Justin Cullars shows up and we drive to put in. There he too, says it is too low. But, Jim and I prevail and we put on and get Caleb and Justin to join as well!
On the river, I immediately thought that it boated much better than it looked like it would from the road. I was hitting only minimal rocks in the opening section. This section then gives way to low angle slides as it pulls away from the road. Soon, a nice small slide drops you into a pool as the river turns 90 degrees to the south, parallel to the Emory, and only 100 yards away from the large body of water up and over a small hill. Here, the goods start.
The first slide is a bit of a clapper that we ran down the right. A small ledge after that leads you to the biggest drop. This long drop is not a place to be upside down! We started left and head right down and around the corner. It is twice as long as Triple Drop on Little Clear Creek and drops at a similar gradient. Below this rapid, a few more smaller drops greet you before you are deposited into the Emory River. The Emory will be very high if this is running so you make very quick time through the half mile down to the take-out.
This run is very short. But, with the equally as short shuttle and no hike logistics, laps are plentiful. Additionally, there are several other creeks nearby which can also be destinations on the highwater days. Sharing the take-out is Clift Creek. That was out second half of the evening. Another option was Crab Orchard Creek just another 15 minutes away. For us, Old Whiteoak and Clifty Creeks took only 2 hours total. Not bad for an after work option!
Overall we had basically minimum flow for the run. I imagine at higher flow the mellow IV- to IV feel goes away and it becomes solid IV. I bet at high flow it is every bit of IV+.
- Boogie (II+). The river runs along the road. This is class II+ boogie. Stay on your toes for wood in this section.
- All Smiles (III). The next quarter mile is full of low angle slides. These are actually great fun, several are medium length and have an s-turning characteristic. The roto here will be intimidating as it hugs the river tightly..
- Welcome to Whiteoak (IV). The first ledge is sort of like the left side Flight Simulator on the West Tuck. It is shallow and is a bit of a clapper. We were told go left... then that person went right. So we followed right. Maybe at more water you could get left, but with more water the right would also be more padded. As it was, it was fun, just shallow. It was maybe 15 tall top to bottom. There was a small eddy (maybe 3-4 boats) on right (and left) at the lip. Scout right.
Cheap Thrills (III). Immediately downstream was a small double ledge. We boofed far right at the top and then slid down the exit ran right of center.
Magic Carpet Ride (IV to IV+). The main event on this run. This drop we entered left and worked right. It starts with a steep slide which then narrows before going over a non-vertical waterfall of maybe 8 feet tall. This then goes into a few more small ledges. Overall, a really fantastic rapid. I think scout left if you were going to.
Fondue (IV). Immediately downstream you enter the run out. But first, there is one steeper boulder garden. You swing left and it drops through a pinch that is a melter (hence the name). It isn't huge, but the hole could flip those who aren't lined up.
- Boogie (II+). Downstream the river mellows again and you quickly arrive at the Emory. This section of the river is kinda just a manky affair. No real character. Luckily it is short.
Take-out: From Knoxville, head west on Highway 40 for 36 miles. Take exit 350 for TN-29 toward Harriman/Midtown. After 2.0 miles, just before you get to TN-27, take a right onto Pansy Hill Rd. This cuts a corner, then turn right to stay on Pansy Hill. Follow this for 0.8 miles. Just before you cross the Emory, turn left on a sketchy one lane side alley looking rd, Riggs Chapel Rd. This quickly opens up to two lanes as you drive up the river and cross under Highway 27. After 2.4 miles on Rigs Chapel Rd, veer right at the fork to get onto Clift Creek Rd. In another quarter mile you cross Clifty Creek and can park on the far side. There is access to the Emory just across the rd from where you park.
Put-in: Continue up Clifty Creek Rd, steeply at first, for 1.4 miles. Park just past the bridge over the creek.
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