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Eagle Fork Creek, Oklahoma
Report by Marc W. McCord
Octavia to below US Highway 259
~ 12.5 miles

General Description

Eagle Fork Creek is a short but interesting combination of whitewater rapids and ledge drop waterfalls along a stream of long pools located in extreme southeastern Oklahoma on the Arkansas border. This stream is alternately known as Big Eagle Creek. Fed by run-off from the Kiamichi Mountains, Eagle Fork Creek is only runnable after recent local rainfall. It empties into the Upper Mountain Fork River just above Broken Bow and below Smithville. While there are populated areas nearby, the immediate vicinity of the stream is quite remote.

Eagle Fork Creek is a series of narrow, twisting, turning channels that demand quick response for a paddler. At normal water levels the creek is runnable by almost anybody, but higher flows require basic canoeing or kayaking experience, and some whitewater skills in fast-moving Class II-III water would be very helpful. There are two dams that must be portaged to avoid a "death sentence", both coming shortly after the put-in at the low water bridge # 1 off Highway 259 above Octavia. Otherwise, the creek is a beautiful stream fed by many waterfalls along the banks, rocky terrain all around and rolling hills typical of southeastern Oklahoma.

Access is good, camping is more than adequate and canoe liveries with shuttle services are available nearby on the Upper Mountain Fork river. Fishing is great, so bring your Oklahoma fishing license, fishing tackle and get ready to catch sunfish of several varieties, perch, smallmouth and largemouth bass and other species. Just make sure you come to paddle after recent rainfall, though you can fish the creek just about anytime there is water enough for the fish to swim.

Location

LeFlore and McCurtain Counties in far southeastern Oklahoma, near the Arkansas border. Eagle Fork Creek flows into the Upper Mountain Fork River in the Kiamichi Mountains.

Distance from major cities

Dallas 220 miles; Fort Worth 250 miles; Austin 420 miles; San Antonio 500 miles; Houston 470 miles; Oklahoma City 185 miles; Tulsa 185 miles (all distance are approximate depending upon starting point, destination at the river put-in and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Cold, clean and unpolluted as it runs off the Kiamichi Mountains. Eagle Fork Creek will be too low to paddle most of the time, but is navigable after recent local rainfall. At flows where the water level is at or below the low water bridge # 1 above Octavia the creek will be too low for a fun trip. Optimum conditions exist when the flow is about one foot above the bridge, and the creek becomes dangerous at 2 feet above the bridge. At high water levels you will need intermediate or advanced whitewater paddling skills and the ability to self-rescue.

Best time to go

Eagle Fork Creek is navigable ONLY after recent local rainfall, but Spring and Fall usually afford the best opportunities, though summer and winter paddling can be done, with good rains, if you are prepared for the elements. It will be hotter than hell in the summer and very cold in the dead of winter. Plan and dress accordingly.

Hazards to navigation

Just below the low water bridge # 1 off Highway 259 above Octavia are two dams with very strong hydraulic currents. These dams have killed many people over the years and should be taken very seriously. It is best to portage around them on river left. A hidden waterfall with a 4-5 foot drop sits about 6.8 miles below the put-in at low water bridge # 1. The waterfall can be a real hazard to bodies and equipment, so scout it carefully, the either run it on river right or portage it on river left. Low-water bridge # 3 at about 8.0 miles below the first put-in can be a major hazard in high-water conditions, so avoid getting sucked under and trapped beneath it. Another smaller waterfall is below low water bridge # 3, at 9.0 miles below the put-in, but it is generally not a major problem. Scout it before running it if you have any doubts about how to negotiate it. The entire run is prolific with a twisting channel with blind turns flowing through rocky shoals and ledges. There are no other significant hazards on Eagle Fork Creek other than the hot summertime temperature and scoarching sun.

River access points

Low water bridge # 1 at 0.0 miles; Low water bridge # 2 off SH 144 west of Octavia at 3.5 miles (this bridge has been rebuilt is no longer truly a low-water bridge); Low water bridge # 3 off a gravel and dirt road running west from Highway 259 at 8.0 miles; Old iron bridge off the dirt road between Highway 259 and Highway 4, just west of Smithville at 12.5 miles (just above the confluence of the Upper Mountain Fork river.) There are no other access points on Eagle Fork Creek.

Campgrounds and accommodations

There are no campgrounds located along Eagle Fork (Big Eagle) Creek. There are at least two commercial campgrounds nearby on the Mountain Fork River between Smithville and Broken Bow. Primitive campsites are at the low water bridges on a first come, space available basis.

Liveries, Outfitters and Shuttle Services

There are at least six commercial outfitters offering rentals, shuttles and/or river information in the general vicinity of the Mountain Fork River, most of which are situated around Smithville or Broken Bow.

Reviewer's comments

Eagle Fork Creek is one of those streams that is fun when you can catch it with water adequate for a paddle trip, but not likely to be navigable most of the time. Its close proximity to the Glover, Lower Mountain Fork and Upper Mountain Fork make it a great place to go when in the southeastern Oklahoma area, and you can combine a run of Eagle Fork with runs on other rivers in the area when water levels are adequate. The scenery is beautiful, with rolling hills and typical Oklahoma-Arkansas border plantlife all around. It is conveniently located to paddlers in Oklahoma, North Texas and southwestern Arkansas.

Technical Data
Class Rating II to III
Length 12.5 miles
Minimum Flow cfs
Optimum Flow 1' above Bridge # 1
Maximum Flow 2' above Bridge # 1
First Put-in Low water bridge # 1
Lat. / Long. 34° 5480003' / -94° 6891022'
Last Take-out Old low water bridge
Lat. / Long. 34° 4519997' / -94° 6647034'
Elevation msl
Gradient 35 fpm (max) / 15 fpm (min)
USGS Gauge Web:
Boats Canoes, Kayaks
Season Only after recent heavy local rainfall
Permits No


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