Upper Scarham Creek

12 November 1995

by:†††† Murray Carroll

This trip started two years ago when Charlie Stotts and I spent a cold, dreary afternoon riding around Sand Mountain looking at creeks.Scarham was too low to run that day, but after looking at the topo maps we decided that with enough water the upper end of Scarham (Hwy. 75 to Double Bridges) would make a good run.Since that time several of the club's paddlers have been doing the lower Scarham trip from Double Bridges, down Scarham and then intersecting with Short Creek; but no one ever ran upper Scarham.Plenty of water provided the resource for this trip; the Locust was at 5.0, Town Creek at 1300 cfs and Short Creek was at 1'5".A Saturday night check with Sand Mountain regular Mark Dí confirmed that there would probably be adequate water for Scarham.


A lot of calling provided a list of volunteers to try the unknown.I promised either a great time, a complete bust or more than likely, something in between.This was to be the first HCC trip on this creek, a real crap-shoot.We left Huntsville with a diverse group; Jeff Bowen, John Neil, Bob Barnett, Dan Fairfax, Dave Fairfax, Ben Ferrill, and three of Jeff s buddies; a pretty large group for a first trip down a narrow creek.


The creek was running an ideal "bank-full".Upper Scarham comes at you in a hurry, the first rapid is a technical Class 3 which features a large bolder in mid-rapid which must be avoided.From there on down the Class 2 and 3 rapids are interspersed with short recovery pools.As a grand finale there is a 7' slide type waterfall with an angular slot which is a lot of fun.The last rapid has trees overhanging the main flow which can mess up a straight through run.This is really an interesting intermediate run if you like tight creeks and have good boat control.Don't take it too lightly though, there were three swims on our trip with one swimmer caught briefly in a recirculating hydraulic.Dan Fairfax compared this run in stream character and topography with the Emory River Canyon on the Plateau.


After the trip Bob and I road scouted another put-in about a mile above Hwy. 75.This put-in probably would give a little warm-up time before getting into the steep section shortly below the Hwy. 75 put-in.This is a trip I'll definitely do again, I just hope that you can make the next one.