This would be the most popular run in Alabama except for the access. You have to get in High Falls Park, which is usually open after 10am on weekends (and closes at 4pm - be sure to get your car out by then or pay the fine to get it out after hours), and then walk down a hill. Except for one V (Blockage), the rest of the run is consistently fun, open, creeky, class III. There are something like 18 class III rapids, for not one of which do I know the name. At low to medium water, there are many excellent play spots, eddy lines, and splat rocks to keep more experienced paddlers entertained whilst showing newer friends down their first creek. After 3-4 miles of good stuff you will see a house high on the canyon rim, signalling the approach of Blockage, just around a right-hand bend in the creek. The vast majority will walk around the Blockage (or Sleeping Giant Falls), an easy V with a bad looking pin/undercut at the last drop. Be sure to eddy out well above to keep inexperienced paddlers from washing down unintentionally. The portage can be done left or right, but most people prefer right, which offers a better view of the rapid itself from the big scouting rock at the bottom.
After Blockage, the creek gradually begins to lose steam. Then you paddle the lake for 1.5 miles and grunt up a hill at the takeout. The takeout trail starts next to a small, old fishing shack. Follow the trail straight up the holler (don't turn right and walk back along the lake, or you'll end up at a very creepy cemetery with a single grave), and soon you'll arive at the switchbacks. Turn right after climbing the first set (but not the second set), and keep following the trail as it begins to get narrower and more overgrown. You will hopefully find a dirt road, and after making another right turn there you'll arrive at your car. The legality situation at the takeout has been much improved since Alabama PALS purchased the land and donated it to the state park; however as always, be courteous and aware of the adjacent landowners in the area.
High Falls have been run a number of times and have a number of lines. At very low water, people have run far right in front of the natural arch. Above 900-1,000 cfs, a bouncy line opens up on the left, requiring a careful approach to avoid a very hard hit. At high water, the single drop in the center becomes an option as well. There are stop signs at High Falls Park that the new sheriff demands you stop at. He also requested in a beligerant tone that all who enter should check in at the office. He made mention of the 15 mile an hour speed limit as well.
Description provided by Ken Pevahouse with updates from Kellis Kincaid.
Four paddlers, Mark D’Agostino, Gary Holder, Doug Klaras, and David Curry had the unique pleasures of paddling one of the best Class III+ creeks in the area under almost perfect conditions. The weather was warm, around 65 degrees with no wind and a clear blue sky. The water level was around 400CFS, a nice level for good technical paddling. Town creek is almost continuous Class III drop/pool rapids with nice drops of around three to five feet.
The run starts at the base of High Falls, one of the most spectacular cascades in the Southeast, complete with natural bridge. In the middle of the run there is a rather lengthy portage around the Class VI rapid, The Blockage. This rapid is a congested boulder field with several blind cut throughs and ends with the entire creek converging to an eight-foot waterfall that lands on top of a rock. Mark showed his aversion to carrying his boat by running the first two thirds of the rapid with Gary running safety for him on the shore. He came to his senses before the last drop, took his boat out and carried it around the rest of the rapid. On previous trips we have been treated with at least one eagle sighting. We came up short on the eagles, but did see at least one kingfisher. The trip was so enjoyable that even the flatwater paddle and half mile uphill takeout didn’t seem all that bad.