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Coker Creek Gold:

Coker Creek, is the most popular creek in Tennessee to go prospecting for gold.  However, any gold from the coker creek area can be considered coker creek gold. It all feeds from the same source, which has yet to be found.

There are a lot of creeks in the area between the Ocoee river to the south, and on up to the Indian boundary lake area to the north. Many of the creeks in between have gold in them. Not all of them, but many of them do.

Coker creek is a nice creek that runs from the side of what used to be called Gold Mountain, turns south, and drops into the Hiwassee river. All along this creek you can find gold. The problem is, that most of it is on private property, and we are not allowed to prospect without owners permissions... most will not give it.

There is an area in the town of Coker Creek, called Doc Rogers Field, that has about 2/3rds of a mile of Coker Creek in it. This is open to panning and sluicing all year round right now, with no permit needed, and it is open to dredging from May 1st to Nov. 1st, with a dredge permit from the Tellico Ranger station.

The problem that we are having now, is that so many people have come out to prospect, and hit this section of the creek, that they are tearing the creek apart. This is a bad thing.

The creek is being abused due to so many people going into such a small area. Then you have the people that don't thing the rules apply to them... digging into the banks, dredging up under the banks, leaving big piles of rocks sitting, instead of flattening them out and filling their holes back in when they are done.

Did you know, that if you build a rock dam for sluicing, you are supposed to tear it down when you are done that day? It's in the rules!

When I first started prospecting in Coker Creek, about 6 years ago, I would get on average, a gram, every day, every time I went there. Now days, I hardly ever hear of someone getting a gram of gold from Doc Rogers Field. It used to replenish itself each year, and you could go back to the same spot, and get another gram.. not any more though. There are so many people going to the same area, that it is no longer able to replenish itself each year.

When I first went there 6 years ago, the creek was anywhere from 4 to 10 feet wide. Now, in the same locations, the creek is 15 to 20 feet wide. This is due to so many people dredging right up to the bank, and causing the banks to cave in with a good rain. Sometimes, the bank would cave in while they are working in an area, and they would go get that "Fresh" material, and cause yet another cave in. This has to stop. It is destroying our creek to prospect in.

With this in mind, as well as all the people breaking the rules, and digging into the banks, you can see how the rangers see it. The rangers are about to close Doc Rogers Field for a few years to let mother nature heal her wounds. This has been discussed between the District ranger, Chuck,(our chapter president) and myself. We are working on getting other areas opened back up for creek access, that used to be open for vehicle traffic, but is now gated. If we can get access to these areas again, it would be a good trade to close Doc Rogers for a few years, let it heal, then reopen it and re-close the other areas to let them rest while Doc Rogers is being used again.

This is our hope. However, there are other areas of Coker Creek that have good gold. We are allowed to prospect all the way down to the bottom of Coker Creek falls, where it dumps into the Hiwassee river. There is good gold down there too. However, we are not allowed to dredge down there. Just panning, and sluicing. Underwater sniping is allowed, but we are not allowed to use ANY mechanical equipment, not even air compressors. So, if your going under water, you can snorkel, or hold your breath.

The Polk County area of Coker Creek is about 7 to 8 miles long. There are a lot of good gold prospecting areas in this stretch of the creek. You may need to hike a ways to get to a good area, but when you get there, you find it is worth the extra effort.

Use caution when prospecting along the Polk county section of coker creek. It is mostly in a tight canyon, and when it rains, even way upstream, it can bring the water up deadly fast. I have been down there when it started a downpour, and watched as the water came up so fast, I could barely get my equipment to the truck in time. The water was rushing down the road, and up from the creek. The water level came up fast!

It is a Flash flood area, and there is no warning. If it is raining hard, get back to your car, or you may not be able to get out until it calms down. You definitely do not want to have to walk in the creek for a long distance to get out. Make sure you have a route to escape rising water, if your prospecting down there during the rain season.

The most important thing to note about Coker Creek, is that it flows through 2 different ranger districts, and they have different rules. Get the rules for the area you plan to prospect, and follow the rules for that area. If you don't, we could eventually loose all access to coker creek gold, and that would be a terrible thing for all of us.

Tellico Ranger district covers the Monroe county area of Coker Creek, and the Ocoee District covers the Polk county area of coker creek.

Good luck out there, be safe, and happy prospecting!

Tim L




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