Paddler Shawn Malone.... Photo by
access at the cemetery is closed down forever.
The homeowners were broken in to.
The cemetery has been vandalized
NO PUBLIC ACCESS under any
circumstances. No if ands or buts.
You trespass you get a free
nights stay of public housing and married to the
man with the
most cigarettes .
You will need to put-on at Hwy
111 on Boardcamp Creek. Here is a link to the
new put in for
A Special thanks to Randy Hale of North River Geographic for donating his resources, effort and time to make this map. To blow it up and for finer detail please click on the picture. You will need a PDF reader to enlarge the map.
*big file warning :)
From Matt Wallace:
Big Soddy Creek is by far the scariest thing I
have paddled. It is also the best run on the
ridge for a class V boater. This run has been on
my radar for quite some time. After talking with
several of the older and established boaters in
the Chattanooga area, I got an overwhelming
response of, ď Itís Dangerous and I donít like.
I wonít go back.Ē I only talked to a few boaters
that really LIKED the run. Being I hold them in
high esteem, I knew this was going to be a good
Seldom do runs live up to the danger hype given
to them, Soddy does! When Mark said, ĒThink Fist
on the Russell Fork.Ē He wasnít lying, Fist
would make some of these rapids look clean. This
is not a place to test your limits or to prove
yourself. Even the easy rapids have Class V+
consequences. Boat scouting is not advised for
this run. This is a run where you take a solid
crew and you watch your friends back. Ropes
should set precedent over cameras here.
That being said, for all the danger there are
rewards. For those boaters looking for complex
boulder garden rapids in a pristine gorge, you
will be pleasantly surprised. You are likely to
see nobody else other than your group. For all
the danger and intimidation of the rapids they
flow together incredibly well. The highlight of
the run is definitely Skywalker. This is a three
part rapid, this is definitely the most
rewarding and most consequential rapid on the
run. There are no big drops on this run , there
is only one slide; this is a boulder garden run.
Everything is 100% run-able, but this doesnít
mean everything has to be run to have a good
High water would be a nightmare in there also,
when you are at the takeout be wise. There is no
gauge there right now so use discretion or go
with somebody who has been. Theyíll know if it
is good to go.
In my opinion this is one of the three the best
run in the Chattanooga area (the other two
arenít Bear and
gorge is beautiful, the water quality is good,
and the rapids are phenomenal. This being from
someone who enjoys mank. For a boater who is
able to block out the dangers, stick the lines,
and isnít too prideful to walk if things arenít
going great Big Soddy will offer up a rewards.
If you donít like scouting, sieves/ undercuts,
and technical whitewater, this probably isnít
the place for you.
I doubt this run will ever become popular, due
to the extreme danger . When it comes to Big
Soddy itís not if but when. BE CAREFUL, SCOUT,
Paddler Shawn Malone.... Photo by
From Ryan Allen :
A new bridge which consists of a felled tree at
river level during low water (will be under
water at high flows) with hewn boards on top and
lots of rope on Big Soddy Creek, somewhere
before the last big rapid. Looks like Cumberland
Trail people put it there I wrote them and
email. this one is at the bottom of a class III
or easier rapid, there are some eddies to catch
at low flows to avoid the "bridge". looks like
it will get washed away eventually and all the
rope will then be in the river bed. looking at
their map they plan on installing lots of these
"bridges" on creeks that are kayaked: Possum,
Rock Cr., Deep Cr, Big Soddy Etc
(Editor's note and
page update) We have updated this page since
talking to Matt Wallace and Billy Smith , we
felt it was time to let more of "the cat outta
the bag" so to speak. We felt Soddy and still
feel that Soddy is a dangerous run. Dangerous
enough not to give much information out about
it. We felt if you had the the skills to run it,
you didn't need a guide book or our advice. But
now that that is being explored once more, and
now paddlers with the right skill set are
paddling it .It will hopefully be networked and
will help keep this run safe and access issues
at bay. So we felt it was a good time to update
this page with more detail and no more holding
that information that we held under the table.
Our notes come from this author, and
conversations from Tom Bowen, Billy Smith, Andy
Mitchell,Scott Shoup and Matt Wallace. Special
thanks to all who gave us pictures and their
Paddler David Dehart.... Photo by
Big Soddy Creek
Its in my opinion this is the most dangerous run
on Walden's Ridge. It's undercut...all of it.
The undercuts are exposed undercuts too (ie.
manky with screw-up rocks) and beckon you to
join them. Even the fun rapids have penalty
points, and the mentality on the this run is not
if, but when. Class V skills are needed and you
need to be in the mindset, that it could be the
day. As Matt Wallace described: This is the
place where the rule , "Don't look at the
undercuts... look away from them" is used. (or
you go straight into them )
Now the good part:
Soddy can also be
run VERY LOW, the undercuts are more exposed,
but when others aren't running this one will be.
If it looks boney at the take out, you can still
run it. This one once dialed in on your flowpage
and gage reading skills ,it runs MORE than the
North Chick. When the
North Chick is on the LOW side, this is the
time to go explore Big Soddy. Use the railroad
bridge at the take-out.
Water hitting the footer of
the river left side of the bridge is ALOT of
water for a first time level. Make note of that
reading! More have been hurt in the gorge by
thinking it didn't have water. Well 9 times out
of ten, its got more than you think. Just cause
the others are low on Walden's Ridge , that
doesn't mean Soddy is. Its watershed is bigger
that you think, and it has some of the most
protected watershed(s) on Walden's Ridge.
Note on a real paddler's gage...4 gages that I
know of have been placed and removed, this is a
swimming beer drinking hole in the summer so not
much gets to survive there : )
Use our flowpage and the railroad bridge for
Paddler David Dehart.... Photo by
I always liked a
strong group that you could count on. This is a
good one to be in the mindset it's okay to walk
some, get the run dialed in first then come
back. Memorizing the lines on this one is very
Did I mention it was undercut? Think Fist on the
Russell Fork, and you get the idea.
The put-in CAN BE had at the cemetery YOU MUST
BE MINDFUL OF BEING A STEWART OF THE PADDLING
COMMUNITY. Be mindful here. You use Gray Creek
to get to where you need to be.
is not recommended.
This is the place where you practiced your lines
and mental game to be ready to paddle here. You
know you have the confidence to stick your lines
and have the presence of mind to rescue yourself
and can foresee problems before they happen. You
know that you need to "set up a rope here...I
have a feeling something could happen here" is
your thinking of the day, and today is the day
kayaking is a team sport. A strong group with
rescue skills is needed for this run. You need
more than a throw bag to be safe. You need to be
the boater than sees his lines as wide as his
boat and knows he can stick them without doubt
or is timid .Bear
Creek is a fun run.
From Billy Smith:
The nature of the run is that the holes are
sticky and seem to feed back onto themselves and
you need be comfortable with that , due to the
fact beside that hole, is some mank in the
approach with some undercut on the side once
into or leaving the drop.
As with all Walden's Ridge runs it seems you
will paddle awhile before the bottom falls
out...then you will come to your first major
Photo by Shawn
Its an attention
getter and your benchmark for the rest of your
day. It gives it all to you. You get a boof that
lands you into an approach with a big hole, with
some run out heading towards another boof and as
most holes on Soddy. It gives you the added
excitement by feeding back into itself. MANY
walk this one. The higher the water it just gets
meaner. At lower water it gets mankier with some
bite and wants to flip you and humble you. To
remember this one for your first run, its a 10
foot boof into a hole then onto a 6 footer...the
tight line for most is on the left. Many walk
this one , there is plenty of more action
downstream. I have know of three personal
accounts of concussions and broken bones and
near misses occurring from this rapid.
From Daniel Talley reflecting
on Skywalker ...
New Years Day 2000
is when I almost lost my life at Skywalker. I
was rockclimbing underwater on the river left
boulder. The few times I resurfaced I thankfully
found my buddy's rope. He then had to scramble
off the boulder for a few minutes before he
could pull me out. My boat (which was a serious
part of the problem...riot glide...doh...plus
juicy med./high level) stayed in the hole for at
least 10 minutes only resurfacing a few times,
wedged on the bottom. It's a VERY dangerous run"
Its one of the longest scouts of the day...plan
Damnation Alley: a.k.a. Game
You just walked or ran Skywalker...but don't
think you are off the hook.
The next section has about 20 + major rapids
coming at you. This is the serious section that
continues for 2.5 miles . Most groups swap
leads, and swap scouting here to keep their pace
going. This is a place to keep an eye on your
friends mental outlook and paddling skills. Boat
scouting this section could be career ending.
Not watching your buddies back could be just as
bad. Stay on your toes here. Soddy throws under
cuts, holes feeding back into themselves and
with little maneuvering room , and the need for
hull speed with little time or room to get it
abounds throughout this section. You need to be
in good creekin mental and physical condition
for the section also.
Named by Andy
Mitchell. Pictures do this one no justice. .
Scott Shoup has given us excellent pictures to
help you visualize this rapid, but beware the
pictures don't give you the dynamics of what is
truly going on here. Beware of gateway of rocks
for your approach to this rapid.
Note for you Deep Creek
paddlers. This rapid is above the confluence
with Soddy and its a straight shot to the car.
Speaking of pictures, Soddy doesn't let you take
many...you're too busy.
Photo by Shawn
Soddy in the summer ...........................
At the Takeout Section in the Summer at the Bluehole on Soddy
Paddler Andy Mitchell running the mank
Photo taken by Scott