Information on Long Branch (EFLB)
Rating: III-V *
Location: Newton Co.; Go North on CR 28 from Deer toward Wayton and
Parthenon. This road takes you past the Alum Cove recreation area.
Continue for 2 miles North past the rec. area and park on the side
of the road. Drag West down the through the woods aiming for the
confluence of the top two forks. (Elevation 1800) The creek is small
and basically a shallow bedrock shoal for first 0.25 miles. Reach the
take-out by continuing North to the community of Wayton from the put-in.
Turn left (West) on CR 96 at the Wayton Baptist Church. Go 2.3 miles and
turn left (South) on CR 95. Snow cemetery should be on the right.
Continue ~2.5 miles down the mountain to the community of Murray. Be sure
to check out the scenery on the way down. Especially the small but tall
waterfall above the first creek crossing. At the bottom of the hill,
there are a couple of houses on the right then a triangle intersection. To
the left, Willis Park is beside the creek at the low-water bridge and there
will probably be standing water in the field. Park at the community
building next to the park at the intersection. Be sure to thank any
locals and leave a donation for this facility. (Elevation 1065)
Topo Quad(s): Murray
Gradient: 285 fpm (450 fpm for last .4 miles on Long Branch)
Length: 2 miles on Long Branch followed by 4.5 miles on East Fork Little Buffalo
Gauge: Gauge at Richland Campground should to be above 6 or headed that way.
Look for 1.5" or more rain at the Deer and Mockingbird Hill and Murray
rain gages, at the BNR Data Page. Rain must have fallen within the last
6 to 12 hours.
Hazards: Undercut ledges and rocks, overhanging branches, strainers,
waterfalls. Very tight in places (pinning hazards). Watch your
head at 'Duck and Cover'. The last 0.5 miles of the creek is
essentially one long steep complex rapid.
Description: First known descent was March 19, 2002 by Lance Jones,
Cowper Chadbourn, Greg Churan, Heath Day, Scott Hanshaw, Bryan Hughbanks, Mike
Jacobs, Jeremy Kasouf, Nate Kline, Matt May, John McCoy, Jason Mellor, Mike
Oglesby and Ray Skinner. The creek starts out very narrow with a 0.2+ mile
long shoal. Shortly after crossing an ATV trail a third fork enters from the
left. Immediately below this fork is the first set of drops. The first horizon
line is a steep fast slide dropping 12-15 ft followed shortly by a 6-8 ft
waterfall (run on left or right) followed shortly by a 20-ft steep fast slide
into a small pool. Leave the pool far right in a narrow slide, ramp up on the
right bank to avoid slamming the boulder on river left and ride the flume out
the bottom. After these first drops, the creek becomes boulder drops. The next
horizon line is an interesting double drop named 'Duck and Cover'. The first
4-ft drop is under an overhanging rock into a sticky boiling hole. The second
part offers a nasty slot with pin/piton potential on river left or shallow
slide down river right. Lots more nice class III/IV for the next mile with
some nice drops like "Baby Zwick's" and 'Switchback'. Haunt Hollow enters from
river right to add a little more water before the meat of the lower gorge begins.
The bottom gorge offers very steep banks and 450+ ft/mile for a third mile.
Big complex boulder drops with holes, pin potential and undercuts. The portages
are worse! The lower gorge consists back to back drops with small eddys
scattered about. The beginning is a boof from the right aiming left. Go
left of the first rock and boof off the second back to the right. This
avoids the two holes to the right of the rocks and lines up for the final
slot on the right. Small eddys on each side offer a break before dropping
over a 3-ft ledge preferably right. The left side below the ledge feeds a
boiling eddy which pillows on a rock blocking most of the exit. One more
small eddy and through a 5-ft slot drop, eddy left. Boof center over the small
hump into the next eddy on river right. Pin potential in the river right
tongue beside the hump. Below this river right eddy is the 'Particle Separator'.
Name has dual meaning. First, the rapid requires a 3-ft boof to the left over
the broken ledge aiming for a boat wide slot on river left beside the 'separator'
rock and over an 8-ft ledge at the bottom. Going right of the separator rock
will take you into a nasty looking notch. Will probably flush though but it
may be a bumpy ride. Second, it separates the boaters from the walkers
(The portage is high and tough on either bank.) A couple eddys are available
below the ledge before entering the 'Long Branch Saloon'. Majority of
the flow funnels left toward a house size boulder. Enter the door to the
left onto the tongue beside the pillow and get ready for a punch in the
face from the hole at the bottom of the 10-ft drop. At high water this
hole could become nasty as the creek is constricted between the large
boulder on the left, the cliff on the right and water pouring straight
down into the deep pool. Out of the pool and work between some rocks
and back to the right. Boof off the 5-ft ledge onto a sluice/slide.
Follow the flume around the sharp left hand turn, avoid the left bank
and eddy right. The main rapid is next. The gorge ends in a bang with
'Freeride'. This rapid drops 45-50 ft over 100 yards. A long complex
solid class V rapid starting with 3 boulder slot moves followed by a 5-ft
boof into a small eddy on the left. There is no stopping after this eddy
until the pool at the bottom. The creek turns sharply right over a cluttered
4-ft rock pile. Best line is middle to right, ride the bow high on the
right bank as it turns back to the left. Negotiate a route through some
trash rocks down the right side as the creek turns back to the left. Line
up for an 8-ft boof onto a slide. Hit the boof right with left angle to
avoid the right shelf rock and the hole and undercut wall on the left. Once
on the slide, quick acceleration takes over to the final 10+ foot waterfall.
Punch through the curler pushing you right on the approach to the waterfall.
You want to be left to avoid the large boulder on the bottom right side
of the pool. Just around the corner from the pool is the East Fork Little
Buffalo. The creek enters ~ 0.5 miles below Johnson's Falls so get ready
for 4.5 miles of big water through the meat of the EFLB at flood! This is
class IV+ big water with juicy holes, swirlies and crosscurrents. Like other
micro-volume creeks, meaningful ratings are difficult to establish on the
accepted International scale. At lower levels, the creek will seem like a
very technical Class III, with much rock bashing, scraping, and some
portages. At higher levels, several rapids are solid Class V. Thanks go
to Lance Jones for the description of this run. See Lance Jones' Pages
for more info.
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