Information on Upper Ellis Br.
Location: To get to the put-in, take Hwy 170 from West Fork to Devils
Den State Park. Three miles before you reach Devils Den
turn right (west) on the Zinamon Church Rd. (unpaved).
Follow this road for 1/3 to 1/2 mile and turn left by the
American Trash sign (the second left off of the Zinnamon
Rd.). Go approx. 1 mile down this road and take the
first dirt road to the right (if you reach a house you've
gone too far). This road is very rugged and steep and
you'll pass several "NO HUNTING" signs on the way down.
It's private land, and getting permission from the hunting
club that owns it might not be a bad idea. I spoke with
a man who lives close to the creek, and he said no one would
mind, but it never hurts to double check. Go as far down this
road as you dare (4WD is mandatory); the road ends very
near the creek. Carry down and put on the creek, or carry
downstream on the old roadbed on river left until the creek
widens a bit. When you get past the last big rapids, carry
back up the old road on river left. No shuttle required.
If you want an extended run, you can take out at the bridge
near Devils Den, just before the creek joins Lee Cr. It's
4.5 miles to the bridge and chock full of trees most of the
way. You can't say you weren't warned.
Topo Quad(s): Strickler
Gradient: 180 fpm
Length: 0.25 to 0.5 mi. (or 5 mi. to Lee Cr.)
Gauge: None. Only runnable soon after heavy local rainfall.
Drive to the put-in or the bridge near Lee to check the creek.
Hazards: tight and continuous rapids, overhanging limbs and strainers
Description: This small stretch of Ellis Br. was first run in November
1996 by Bill Herring and Randy Childers. The entire creek
is runnable, but the most challenging rapids are
encountered in the first 1/2 mile. After that point the
gradient diminishes and the trees close in - an
unpleasant combination. The uppermost part of the creek
is very, very narrow and steep, and with enough water (a
rare event) the rapids are continuous class III+ for 1/3
mile. After a couple of warm up drops, a large class
III+ staircase drop is encountered. After some serious
tree dodging there's another big drop. This rapid got
the name Runaway Rapid when Bill Herring dropped his boat
while portaging a tree on the steep left bank above the
rapid. The boat successfully made a first descent of the
rapid before it was extracted from the creek. This rapid
is actually a series of falls dropping more than 15 feet.
The right side of the second drop is a vertical pin
waiting to happen, and the last two drops are the largest
and fastest. Hit an eddy very quickly after Runaway
because a deadfall blocks the creek just around the
corner. After quite a bit of fast action another large
drop comes into view. This one consists of a fairly
straightforward single drop over a slanting rock. This
is the last of the big drops on the creek, and it may be
to bony to run if the water is not high. Unless the
creek is really roaring, it's probably a good idea to
pull out on the left just below Runaway, and start the
short drag back up to the car. If you go further down,
the gorge gets deeper, making it harder to carry out. As
a result of it's proximity of Fayetteville (35 min) and
the potential for a very short but exciting kayak run,
Ellis Br. makes a good one to catch when heavy midday
rains bring the creeks up but there's not enough
daylight for a longer run. All boaters should be good at
rock dodging in tight class III-IV rapids, and a flip
could be a very bruising experience. Pinning is par for
the course, but bank support for pinned paddlers is easy
to set up ahead of time on this ultra narrow creek.
Return to Index