The Forks of Red Creek

Three features in close succession. The best is the second one. Here’s the rundown: At the top a confluence widens into a basin about seventy feet long. It’s formed mainly by freestone, hence not very deep, but there is a smashing sand beach just up the Left Fork of Red Creek where you can stretch out for a siesta.

The lower swimming hole is the lesser of the three. It’s a scramble getting there and significant intrusion from boulders limits the surface area of the pool. Plus, it doesn’t get much sunlight. It’s probably only good on hot days during a dry spell.

But the middle is a classic. Some very hard rock lines the bed of the creek. It’s interrupted in a few places by slots of softer stone that get worn away and produce deep undercuts in the form of headward erosion. Water pours off in a low plunge across a beautiful sheet twenty feet wide. It’s cut back under the fall lip by four or five feet. Interesting, but not meaningful. What’s important is a similar lip downstream, opposite the fall face. It forces downward rushing water into a hydraulic that digs deeper and deeper into the bottom of the pool. Difficult to explain, but when you see it, you’ll understand.

The water apparently has few nutrients in it, hence no algae. It is however dark red from the tannins vegetation in the Dolly Sods Widerness. The color has the red brick appearance of a very old, very fine wine.

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