We
paddled from the southwest corner of Cades Cove to the Abrams Creek
Campground, entirely within the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
In these 10 miles the stream drops 600 feet through frequent class
III and class IV rapids and spectacular scenery. As far as I know,
Abrams has not been included in any published guidebook, although
there is a description on the Internet. My exploration trip report
appeared in
The Eddy Line
in May 1990
.

Despite
the presence of a large front throughout the Southern Appalachians,
only very light rain had fallen in the Abrams watershed area when we
put in at 12:45 p.m., so it turned out that we had less than my
recommended minimal level. In 1990 we had a low medium level, and I
had written that the Little River Maryville gauge that day read 425
cfs. Friday’s level there this year was 477, so I anticipated that
we would have plenty of water. However, the 425 cfs reading in 1990
must have been on the Little River’s Townsend gauge, which was about
280 this day, not on the Maryville gauge. A Townsend reading of 350
cfs might be a reasonable minimum. We considered taking off a few
hundred yards into the trip. However, we had already set the three
hour (!) shuttle and decided to stick it out.

Actually,
most of the river could be negotiated without scraping, although when
the stream widened, the flow sometimes got painfully thin. The
overcast skies threatened showers all day. However, it never more
than lightly misted during the trip, though we got drenched at the
take-out while loading the boats. Nevertheless, we all seemed to
have a great time and certainly got plenty of challenge and practice
maneuvering.

Paddling
were Brian Cathcart, Ed Green, and Jeff Lankford in kayaks and Sid
Cathcart, Robert Mingus, Jason Schnurr, and I in solo open canoes.
Beth Thompson and Roxanne Lankford helped with the shuttle. This was
a strong crew who did well, although we had our share of swims in
some of the more challenging spots.

We
lunched atop the spectacular 24-foot Abrams Falls. Our kayakers were
tempted to give it a try and scouted a good while before agreeing
that the low water level made the run too dangerous. Ed, who lives
in Sylva, North Carolina, vowed to return on foot in the summer and
sound at the base of the falls the pool, which appears to be deep on
the left side of the river. Jason and Jeff took the lead in carrying
out the portage, which was expeditiously undertaken with long lines,
carabiners and bucket brigade cooperation.

Just
past an island a mile after the falls the steep series of drops,
which I rated class V in 1990, were challenging but considerably
easier at this lower level and were negotiated aptly by all. We took
a leisurely pace, played a good deal, and finally took off at 6:00
p.m. The Cathcart family, Jason, Ed, Beth, and her daughter Amy
spent the night together by the side of the river at Abrams
Campground, the put-in for the
Lower Abrams Creek, a lovely class
II-III run of 7 miles @ 50’/mile, with 2 miles of Lake Chilhowee at
the end. The rest of us returned to Cades Cove well after dark and
finally supped together in Dillsboro at about 11 p.m. We had a long
day but a great trip. Thanks friends.

by
Roger Nott
Saturday, April 12, 1997