Daddy’s Creek meanders through Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau—most of the year. But, after heavy rainfall, it becomes one of the East Coast’s most exciting free-flowing Class IV whitewater runs.
Until recently, paddling Daddy’s was more elusive than your average weather-dependent creek. The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Management (TWRA) operated the surrounding Catoosa Wildlife Management Area for the benefit of hunters and wildlife. Paddlers complained that too often, when the weather was warm enough and the creek full enough, the boat access was closed. Last fall, thanks to the efforts of non-profits, local paddlers and residents, the TWRA agreed to relax the Daddy’s access rules.
New access dates can be found at https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/twra/documents/wmaseasons.pdf.
When planning a Daddy’s trip, cross-reference the new dates with the official TWRA website; it’s no fun to arrive on a wet warm day only to find the gates locked.It’s also no fun to paddle Daddy’s unless the water levels are just right.
Good flows are 1.8 – 3 feet measured at the Antioch Bridge gauge. While Daddy’s is generally too dry to run in the summer and early fall, there is often enough water between October and April. With some extra time, it’s also possible to add a few miles to the Daddy’s run by taking out at Obed Junction instead of Devil’s Breakfast Table. The last few miles offer more scenery and multiple class two-three rapids.
Navigating a free-flowing creek like Daddy’s requires preparation, skill and luck. And it should never be run when the water is still rising; flash flooded creeks are perilous. Still, make sure there is enough water…and, it never hurts to research online forums. Sometimes good Samaritans post information about newfound river obstructions, or something critical—like a good place to grab lunch.
If you haven’t paddled this creek yet, take advantage of the new rules and paddle it soon.
—By George Lindemann