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It was my first time on this run. I chose Blackwater Creek because it was close enough to my parents’ home to allow them to drop me off and pick me up so I could run it without dealing with any type of shuttle or hitchhiking. I tied my 16ft Wenonah Prospector to the top of my 2001 Saturn Coupe, which my father always finds hilarious because the boat is longer than the car.
Most of the trip is fairly easy. There was a good current most of the time, with a few areas where I had to paddle to keep moving near the end. I could see it getting difficult if the water was several inches lower. A foot or more higher would submerge many of the rocks and as long as the current was not too strong, the trip would still be viable and possibly easier in a canoe. A kayaker would want the water to be well up from this level to have a fun ride.
There are two particular points to be wary: two lines of rocks in the curve at 2.5mi (S-(2)-12”D & Island, Foshee), and a series of shoals and rocks in the beginning of Mile 4 that require several maneuvers to navigate. These may cause trouble for novices. Most other shoals and rapids are easy to pass through. There was no point at which I had trouble maneuvering my boat alone, save for the occasional gust of wind blowing me around. There was also a hornet’s nest over the water on river right a short distance after the power lines in mile 3. I saw no activity, but it is best just to stay to the left to be safe.
The creek offers a fairly scenic trip. Much of the landscape consists of forested slopes leading up to cliffs. I only saw 2 houses during the trip and some areas that appeared to be used often, some having “No trespassing” signs posted. There was an interesting cable car setup at one point over the creek.
The put-in and take-out are different from what is described in Foshee’s guide.
Parking at the Walston Bridge put-in is a bit difficult and can be a bit treacherous. There are small spaces just west of the bridge: Room for 2 vehicles on the south side of Walston Bridge Rd just past the bridge; Room for about 5 vehicles on the north side a bit farther from the bridge. There is a blind curve just beyond the parking spaces, so it is not the safest place to cross. Traffic on this road does not obey the speed limit. It would be possible for a 4x4 to pull off the road and down the path, but I could not attempt it in my little car.
The path to the creek is pretty good once you get off the road. There are actually multiple paths. The best path starts at the west end of the south roadside parking and forks to the left heading down to a pair of old bridge support pilings lying on the bank. It has a gentle slope and is covered by pine straw and a few fallen trees. I had no trouble dragging my canoe, fully loaded with all my gear, without damaging it.
The take-out offers better parking. It is on the west side of Hwy 69, at the north end of the bridge. The area is paved part of the way. There is easily room for several vehicles, and higher clearance vehicles can drive most or all of the way down to the bottom. I could get about half way down in my car. From the water, it seems a bit trickier, but really isn’t. Thompson Branch flows into Blackwater Creek directly under the bridge on river left. I had to turn left between the bridge pilings and paddle up Thompson Branch a few yards. I then had to portage over a set of rocks and up an old road on the right (the one you can drive down) to get out.
There is a little place called "The Frosty Mug" on the north side of Hwy78 at the west end of the Black Warrior River Bridge. They make great milk shakes.
From South (Birmingham): Take I-65 north to exit 262B(Finley Blvd.), turn left off the ramp, turn right on Hwy78 west when Finley ends; go about 29.6mi, turn right on Boldo Rd, go 6.6mi (you will cross Hwy69 south of the creek at about 2.5mi), turn right on Walston Bridge Rd, turn right and the bridge will be about 2mi ahead.
You can easily shuttle using either set of roads so you don't have to turn around at the put-in, you can just pull out traveling in the same direction.