Here in Mid/TN, we rely heavily on playspots to hone our whitewater skills. Truth is, there’s just not alot of gradient in our streams, creeks, and rivers. But there are some hidden gems. Here’s some up to date information on several local playspots.
2122 N Thompson Lane
This one is easy. You go to the liquor store/ tobacco outlet at 2122 N Thompson Lane and park out back. Walk down the hill to the Greenway and go left. In about twenty yards you will see Harker’s Crossing Plaque, follow trail behind that to waters edge. Launch your boat and paddle around the trees. This is Harkers hole. To take out, paddle down to the wooden dock and get out there. In summer, watch out for Poison Ivy! A good CFS for this feature is anywhere from 280CFS to about 650CFS. any higher, but it’d seem like it’d just wash out . This is a fun place to practice, but beware it will try to flip you at higher water levels 3-400cfs. When it does, tuck up tight, its a little shallow, and head busters do wash out of the feature from time to time during high flows. But usually when the water goes back down, the locals go back and put the rocks back. Go give it a try and tell us what you think on our Nashville Whitewater Facebook page.
2. Nice Mill Dam
This is a washed out low head dam. At high water levels this thing is a killing machine, but when the waters down, its pretty safe. There’s a nice spillway where the water comes in fast over some rocks, creating a nice surfing hole. Its very dynamic, changing with the water level. Its very shallow here, so hit your roll, or expect to swim and be washed into the trees.
Here is a map link for Nice Mill Dam Recreation Area:
3. The Crumbles/ The Pipeline
This spot, also called Ransom Mill Dam , is located off Medical Center Pkwy in the Boro, where Med Center Pkwy crosses the Stones. This spot features a double ledge drop of about 4 ft each with a nice surfing hole at the bottom. If the water is so high its spilling over the top of the dam all the way across, stay far away from here. Several people have died here, including those who’ve been trying to rescue others. The dam forms a keeper hydraulic and is not friendly. About 50 yards down from the Crumbles lies the Pipeline. If someone was willing to do the work, the Pipeline could be a premier surfing spot.
4. Bragg Hole
Bragg Hole is located behind Bragg Dog Park in the Boro. Its just a single pourover with 1 eddy. At lower water, it’s very sticky and it seems it’s only mission is to suck you down and flip you. At higher water, this can be a primo surfing spot. But it is extremely shallow, so tuck up!
5. Suck and Tuck on the Duck
Formerly called “the redneck hot-tub” due the the locals having spa day on the back side of the dam. These locals will sit on the spillway right in the middle of the hole while you try and surf around them. Last year we even hosted a Hometown Throwdown there! To get here you take 65 south to 840west to 431 south. Follow 431-S till right before it crosses the Duck River, then turn right on Hardison Mill Rd and take your first left down the gravel driveway. Go down to the water and put your boat in. Paddle approx 100yds downstream and you’re there! Update! the recent building of a bridge has changed things. Now, you must park on the side of Hardison Mill Rd and walk down a trail to the water.
6. Harpeth Hole
Harpeth River, Franklin, TN
This is a very local spot located on the Harpeth River in Franklin, TN. Only recently found, Harpeth Hole is a spot where the river narrows substantially around the side of an island, then is funneled into a 12′ wide spillway/hole. To get here, take 65 south to the Cool Springs exit. Turn right and follow to Mack Hatcher. Turn right on Mack Hatcher and follow to Hillsboro Rd. Turn Right on Hillsboro Rd and follow to Fieldstone Pkwy where you will take a left. Follow Fieldstone Pkwy to the last left before Cotton St. Once you take that left, park and walk toward river. Find trail, follow it, and when it forks go left.
Unfortunately, no picture exists of the Ledges to my knowledge. Somebody go get one!
7. The Ledges
Need some boof practice? Has there been a BIG rain? Check out Overall Creek in the Boro. Im not totally sure of the put in /take out, but I’ve ran it. Its pretty much fast moving flat water till you get there, then its a 50 yd wide double ledge drop of about 15-20 feet. It’s a great spot to practice that boof because of the easy portage area on river left. But be careful on river right, it drops the highest and then after the second drop you must make it back over to the left, or be swept into a wall of trees. Not a place I’d want to be in big water, so if it’s big, stay on the left side until you’ve scouted it and know what you gotta do at the bottom. Not a problem for running it, then heading back up and running it again, and again, and again. The paddle out is as uneventful as the paddle in. The put in is off Asbury Lane and take out is either Nice Mill Dam Recreation Area for the scenic route, or Broad Street for the shortcut.
8. Rock Crusher
This one, named for the large rock crusher machine that sits on river left above the hole. This was created by miners depositing unused rock into the creek. It’s about an 8-10 ft slide leading to a big hole at the bottom. it is accessible via car or truck, but is located on a quarry access road, so watch out for dump trucks! Would be great to get a team of volunteers for some strainer relief. From what I remember, there’s a large tree that beached itself on river right, at the top of the rapid, then after the recovery area, there’s a large strainer pile up against the bridge pylons but was it passable on river left. Downstream from here are more rapids, but you’d have to take out on the Duck River bridge (very steep and rocky).
This one I also don’t have a photo for, yet…
9. Jailhouse Rapid on Mill Creek
This is a short practice run located on the Mill Creek Greenway. The only work tha’ts been done here is the cutting of trails in to access the site. The rapid consists of one five foot slide drop through slits in the rock (there’s really no way to explain it better, its weird). After that, the creek widens and pours over a small ledge. Afterwards it narrows and goes through a sharp left turn and boulder garden. I’ve never been here at higher water, so I can’t say for sure, but it would seem that this place would be a great place to practice eddy hopping, surfing, ferrying, and maybe some eddyline based tricks. To get here, take I-24 east out of Nashville and get off at the Harding exit. Turn left . Drive across one major intersection, pass the Sam’s Club on the right, then prepare to turn right. Look for signs that say Department of Corrections Transfer Center/ Mill Creek Greenway. When the road forks stay to the left. Down a ways you will approach a big metal gate. If its open, you’re in luck, they’re having a soccer game at the field there and you can get alot closer in your vehicle. Walk to the other side of the field where you can put in on a boulder outcrop. Take out at the TSRA provided takeout and walk back up!
Picture Coming Soon…
10. Warner Hole
Little Harpeth River
This one is very accessible. In fact, if it had just rained for two days straight and then the sun came out, you could have a surfing party here. Yes that’s right, just above the hole is a huge picnic pavillion with grills and firepits. Why you ask? Because this feature is smack dab in the middle of Edwin Warner Park on the southwest side of Nashville. This area is just a spot where the river tumbles down a set of shoals, the very bottom being Warner Hole. This hole is a river wide feature that is pretty retentive, allowing for flat spins, 360’s, and more. I’ve only surfed here at minimal flows, but I don’t remember it being very deep, so if you get rolled here, tuck up tight! To get here, find where the little harpeth flows through the park near the picnic areas. I think it’s the second to last pavillion on the left. Park, and play all day.
11. Hehnen Hole
North of Cookeville, TN in Jackson County
This one is on Spring Creek at Tom Hehnen’s house. The feature is hand made from stones in an area that would normally just be flat water. This thing is seriously very nice. It’s just retentive enough to hold you in spins, cartwheels, and is deep enough for enders, loops, and other cool tricks I can’t do yet. Soon… This place is to be the site for our Muddy Rivers Festival/ Spring Creek Classic’s freestyle event March 21-23, 2014. Tom’s house is at 2947 Spring Creek Road in Jackson COunty. He’s cool with folks coming over and having a surf, but I’d recommend sending him a message first and let him know you’re coming!
Rock Island State Park, Rock Island, TN
In the world of whitewater paddling, us Middle Tennesseans are used to having to drive 3-6 hours at least to get to some action. Get this. Rock Island State Park is only a two hour drive from Nashville, but contains some of the BEST whitewater in the Southeast. This place is the Jackson family’s playground and has been for years. This place is primo. Let’s start from the top. Two rivers, The Caney Fork, and The Collins River come together just above the gorge and are dammed off. Most of the water is used to power two generators and when they’re running the water comes out just above the surfing area, at the Powerhouse. Any extra water spills from the spillways on the dam. When ever there’s big rain, this dam HAS to spill, because there’s no storage area behind the dam. So as long there’s big water flowing over the dam, you can assume the Spout is running. The Spout is a twenty foot high waterfall that drops into a big pool. I’m done it. So much fun, but if you’re older than thirty, its gonna hurt a few days after. After each drop, first man back up drops a throwrope for hoisting boats. There’s a nice eddy at the top to put your boat in, and then ten yards down and you’re off! One one thousand, two one thousand, three… SPLASH!!! It’s a rush. And I’d say that twenty feet is about as high as I want to go. Some of us have to go back to work on Monday.After you finish doing laps off the waterfalls paddle downstream about 100 yds and take out on left. Make sure you take out here, because the next rapid’s for experts only, Seive City. This rapid gets its name because of the constantly breaking and shifting limestone shelf rock that collects here. There’s plenty of places here that would permanently end your paddling career. So if you are crazy (or Skilled) enough to run it, make sure and scout it first so you’ll know your line. And then just for good measure, have one of your buddies set safety.
Below Seive City, the river flattens out for a short distance, passing the powerhouse. When you pass the powerhouse, take note of the super strong eddy line where the water comes out of the powerhouse. This eddyline is a favorite of local squirtboaters, although, I really dont get it. I like to stay on top of the water, as much as possible.
After you’re past the powerhouse, the river picks up speed and flows around a big rocky beach. This is where the surfing section of Rock Island exists. The first wave is called top wave, Rodeo Hole is the big madness close to the bottom of the beach. Beyond that, stay to the right to run through the backstage area, head left to run brave wave. At one generator its manageable, but at two its hardly thinkable. and right below it exists a wall that the water all pounds against. People have died right here, so if you dare venture on this side, stay far away from the river left wall. The other side, Backstage, is super cool and is manageable and much safer. At one gen, this side is a little boney, but feels creeky. At two generators, this side has an awesome wave train right through the middle of it. Big fun! After this section, hike back up, or head on downstream for some more fun. After about 300 yds of flatwater in the Blue Hole, you will come to an island. Go right at the island for a big fun wave train, go left for a scrapey, boney, creeky, descent. When the lake is down, this last wave train goes a ways out into the lake and contains a couple really meaty holes that come as a surprise, but in essence, the recovery area is a lake. Thats pretty safe. After your run, use the lake to practice your flat water skills, or head to the boat ramp to shuttle back to the top.
These next three spots were just fed to me by Marshall Spencer, somebody go get some pics!