The HUCs: Watersheds

What the heck are the HUCs?

Concerning hydrology and the United States Geological Survey (USGS), HUC stands for Hydrologic Unit Code. The HUCs, then, are hydrological units.  According to the USGS:

‚ÄúEach hydrologic unit is assigned a 2-digit to 12-digit number that uniquely identifies each of the six levels of classification within six two-digit fields.‚ÄĚ

USGS: Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained

There is an excellent diagram explaining the various number codes on this page.

Wikipedia provides some background information on how the USGS got to its current HUC system:

The United States Geological Survey created a hierarchical system of hydrologic units originally called regions, sub-regions, accounting units, and cataloging units. Each unit was assigned a unique Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC). As first implemented the system had 21 regions, 221 subregions, 378 accounting units, and 2,264 cataloging units.[2][3] Over time the system was changed and expanded.[4] As of 2010 there are six levels in the hierarchy, represented by hydrologic unit codes from 2 to 12 digits long, called regions, subregions, basins, subbasins, watersheds, and subwatersheds. The table below describes the system’s hydrologic unit levels and their characteristics, along with example names and codes.[5]

Wikipedia: Hydrological Code (United States section)

So, the Upper New River Basin is technically a ‚Äúsubbasin‚ÄĚ since it has an eight digit HUC: 05050001.

All the HUCs: 18 in the Upper New Basin

Here we have created a profile for all eighteen 10-digit HUCs, or watersheds, in the Upper New River subbasin.  Check out this map that shows them all in order:

Map of all the HUCs (10-digits) in the Upper New River Basin
All eighteen 10-digit HUC watersheds in the Upper New River subbasin.

Notice how we overlaid the HUC outlines over the Virginia Hydrologic Unit Explorer map, in case you want to go play around with it to compare notes.

Below, we‚Äôve listed each 10-digit HUC watershed in order, starting with the North Fork New River (0505000101).  We‚Äôre profiling each watershed, finding what‚Äôs there now, and what came and went before.

Obviously, none of these lists of places is exhaustive.  We want to continue to flesh them out as we keep exploring each HUC watershed, getting to know the people and places within, both present and past! 

We welcome your suggestions.  Perhaps a story?

Use this table of contents to skip ahead to your favorite HUC, or just keep scrolling!

North Fork New River (0505000101)

Our simplified map of the North Fork New River (0505000101) watershed

The North Fork New River watershed is in both North Carolina and Virginia.  On its edge is the Tri-State Marker, which designates where the states of Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia meet (near Pond Mountain).  Also on the edge is the summit of Mount Rogers, the highest point of elevation in the state of Virginia, within the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.  The Appalachian Trail runs through the recreation area, and continues into Grayson Highlands State Park.

In North Carolina, Three Top Mountain and Bluff Mountain are prominent in this watershed.  In Ashe County, Creston, Lansing, Crumpler, and West Jefferson are scattered throughout.  Elk Knob State Park is also on the edge of the watershed, where the headwaters of the North Fork of the New River are located.

There are nine 12-digit HUCs, or subwatersheds, in ‚Äč‚Äčthe North Fork New River watershed:

  • Three Top Creek – 050500010101
  • Headwaters North Fork New River – 050500010103
  • Big Laurel Creek – 050500010102
  • Upper North Fork New River – 050500010106
  • Middle North Fork New River – 050500010107
  • Big Horse Creek – Whitetop Creek – 050500010105
  • Little Horse Creek – 050500010104
  • Helton Creek – 050500010108
  • Lower North Fork New River – 050500010109

South Fork New River (0505000102)

Our simplified map of the South Fork New River (0505000102) watershed

The South Fork New River watershed is entirely inside the boundaries of North Carolina, including Blowing Rock, Boone, Jefferson, and Laurel Springs.  Appalachian State University is here, and this is where the Blue Ridge Parkway enters (or exits) the southern end of the Upper New River Basin, including the Moses Cone Memorial Park at milepost 294.  Mount Jefferson State Natural Area is here, as are parts of the New River State Park.  The NC Mountains-to-Sea Trail follows the Blue Ridge Parkway along the southern edge of this watershed.

There are ten 12-digit HUCs, or subwatersheds, in ‚Äč‚Äčthe South Fork New River watershed:

  • Headwaters South Fork New River – 050500010201
  • Meat Camp Creek – South Fork New River – 050500010202
  • Elk Creek – South Fork New River – 050500010203
  • Old Fields Creek – South Fork New River – 050500010204
  • Pine Swamp – South Fork New River – 050500010205
  • Beaver Creek – South Fork New River – 050500010206
  • Naked Creek – South Fork New River – 050500010207
  • Peak Creek – South Fork New River – 050500010209
  • Cranberry Creek – 050500010208
  • Prather Creek – South Fork New River – 050500010210

Fox Creek – New River (0505000103)

Our simplified map of the Fox Creek – New River (0505000103) watershed

The Fox Creek РNew River watershed is in both North Carolina and Virginia, including parts of Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, Lewis Fork Wilderness, and Grayson Highlands State Park.  In Virginia, it includes Mouth of Wilson, and in North Carolina, Grassy Creek and Piney Creek.  It also includes part of the New River State Park in North Carolina.

There are five 12-digit HUCs, or subwatersheds, in ‚Äč‚Äčthe Fox Creek – New River watershed:

  • Grassy Creek – New River – 050500010302
  • Wilson Creek – 050500010301
  • Bridle Creek – New River – 050500010305
  • Fox Creek – Middle Fox Creek – 050500010304
  • Fox Creek – Laurel Creek – 050500010303

Little River – New River (0505000104)

Our simplified map of the Little River – New River (0505000104) watershed

The Little River – New River watershed is in both North Carolina and Virginia, including Independence and part of Buck Mountain in Virginia.  In North Carolina, the watershed includes Sparta, Ennice, and Roaring Gap, as well as the Blue Ridge Parkway, including parts of Doughton Park along its southern edge.

There are seven 12-digit HUCs, or subwatersheds, in ‚Äč‚Äčthe Little River – New River watershed:

  • Elk Creek – New River (aka New River – Saddle Creek) – 050500010401
  • Pine Swamp Creek – Little River – 050500010404
  • Glade Creek – Little River – 050500010406
  • Brush Creek – 050500010405
  • Crab Creek – Little River – 050500010407
  • Peach Bottom Creek – 050500010402
  • Little Brush Creek – New River – 050500010403

New River – Elk Creek (0505000105)

Our simplified map of the New River – Elk Creek (0505000105) watershed

The New River – Elk Creek watershed is entirely within the boundaries of Virginia.  It includes the communities of Elk Creek and Comers Rock.  Point Lookout Mountain and Brierpatch Mountain are also in this watershed.

There are three 12-digit HUCs, or subwatersheds, in ‚Äč‚Äčthe New River – Elk Creek  watershed:

  • Elk Creek – Stone Creek – 050500010502
  • Elk Creek – Turkey Fork – 050500010503
  • New River – Rock Creek – 050500010501

Chestnut Creek – New River (0505000106)

Our simplified map of the Chestnut Creek – New River (0505000106) watershed

The Chestnut Creek РNew River watershed is entirely within the boundaries of Virginia.  The towns of Fries and Galax are in this watershed, as well as the Judge Matthews State Forest and parts of the New River Trail State Park.  The Blue Ridge Parkway runs along the bottom of the watershed, including the Blue Ridge Music Center, leading up to Fisher Peak.

There are three 12-digit HUCs, or subwatersheds, in ‚Äč‚Äčthe Chestnut Creek – New River watershed:

  • Chestnut Creek – 050500010603
  • New River – Meadow Creek – 050500010601
  • New River – Eagle Bottom Creek – 050500010602

New River – Crooked Creek (0505000107)

Our simplified map of the New River – Crooked Creek (0505000107) watershed

The New River – Crooked Creek watershed is entirely within the boundaries of Virginia.  The short bottom edge hosts the Blue Ridge Parkway, and there are also parts of the New River Trail State Park in the watershed.  The watershed includes the towns of Woodlawn and Ivanhoe, as well as Ewing Mountain.

There are four 12-digit HUCs, or subwatersheds, in ‚Äč‚Äčthe New River – Crooked Creek watershed:

  • Crooked Creek – East Fork Crooked Creek – 050500010702
  • Crooked Creek – Cranberry Creek – 050500010703
  • New River – Brush Creek – Bournes Branch – 050500010701
  • New River – Poor Branch – 050500010704

Cripple Creek (0505000108)

Our simplified map of the Cripple Creek (0505000108) watershed

The Cripple Creek watershed is entirely within the boundaries of Virginia, including the town of Speedwell.  The watershed contains the Iron Mountains, the Little Dry Run Wilderness area, and the Raven Cliff Recreation Area.

There are three 12-digit HUCs, or subwatersheds, in ‚Äč‚Äčthe Cripple Creek watershed:

  • Cripple Creek – Blue Spring Creek – 050500010801
  • Cripple Creek – Francis Mill Creek – 050500010802
  • Cripple Creek – Slate Spring Branch – 050500010803

Upper Reed Creek (0505000109)

Our simplified map of the Upper Reed Creek (0505000109) watershed

The Upper Reed Creek watershed is entirely within the boundaries of Virginia.  This watershed contains the communities of Rural Retreat and Crockett.  Walker Mountain is along the top edge of the watershed.

There are three 12-digit HUCs, or subwatersheds, in ‚Äč‚Äčthe Upper Reed Creek watershed:

  • Reed Creek – Hutson Branch – 050500010901
  • Stony Fork – 050500010902
  • Reed Creek – South Fork Reed Creek – 050500010903

Lower Reed Creek (0505000110)

Our simplified map of the Lower Reed Creek (0505000110) watershed

The Lower Reed Creek watershed is entirely within the boundaries of Virginia.  It is home to Wytheville and Max Meadows, as well as Cove Mountain and a corner of Draper Mountain.

There are three 12-digit HUCs, or subwatersheds, in ‚Äč‚Äčthe Lower Reed Creek watershed:

  • Cove Creek – 050500011002
  • Reed Creek – Muskrat Branch – 050500011001
  • Reed Creek – Miller Creek – 050500011003

New River – Shorts Creek (0505000111)

Our simplified map of the New River – Shorts Creek (0505000111) watershed

The New River РShorts Creek watershed is entirely within the boundaries of Virginia.  It contains the towns of Austinville and Barren Springs.  The Shot Tower Historical State Park and parts of the New River Trail State Park are in the watershed, as well as Foster Falls.  The watershed hosts Hematite Mountain and Poplar Camp Mountain, and Draper Mountain defines its top edge.

There are two 12-digit HUCs, or subwatersheds, in ‚Äč‚Äčthe New River – Shorts Creek watershed:

  • New River – Pine Run – 050500011102
  • New River – Shorts Creek – 050500011101

Little Reed Island Creek (0505000112)

Our simplified map of the Little Reed Island Creek (0505000112) watershed

The Little Reed Island Creek watershed is entirely within the boundaries of Virginia.  It is home to Hillsville and Fancy Gap, and includes part of the Blue Ridge Parkway on its southern edge.

There are two 12-digit HUCs, or subwatersheds, in ‚Äč‚Äčthe Little Reed Island Creek watershed:

  • Upper Little Reed Island Creek – 050500011201
  • Lower Little Reed Island Creek – 050500011202

Upper Big Reed Island Creek (0505000113)

Our simplified map of the Upper Big Reed Island Creek (0505000113) watershed

The Upper Big Reed Island Creek watershed is entirely within the boundaries of Virginia.  It contains the community of Laurel Fork, as well as Buffalo Mountain and part of the Blue Ridge Parkway along its edge.

There are three 12-digit HUCs, or subwatersheds, in ‚Äč‚Äčthe Upper Big Reed Island Creek watershed:

  • Laurel Fork – 050500011301
  • Big Reed Island Creek-Stone Mountain Creek – 050500011302
  • Snake Creek – 050500011303

Lower Big Reed Island Creek (0505000114)

Our simplified map of the Lower Big Reed Island Creek (0505000114) watershed

The Lower Big Reed Island Creek watershed is entirely within the boundaries of Virginia.  It contains the communities of Dugspur and Willis.

There are three 12-digit HUCs, or subwatersheds, in ‚Äč‚Äčthe Lower Big Reed Island Creek watershed:

  • Burks Fork – 050500011401
  • Big Reed Island Creek-Road Creek – 050500011402
  • Greasy Creek – 050500011403
  • Big Reed Island Creek-Rock Creek – 050500011404

New River – Peak Creek (0505000115)

Our simplified map of the New River – Peak Creek (0505000115) watershed

The New River РPeak Creek watershed is entirely within the boundaries of Virginia.  It hosts the communities of Hiwassee, Draper, and Pulaski.  It is home to Draper Mountain.  Within this watershed is the Claytor Lake State Park, as well as part of the Radford Army Ammunition Plant (New River Unit). 

There are six 12-digit HUCs, or subwatersheds, in ‚Äč‚Äčthe New River – Peak Creek watershed:

  • Big Macks Creek – 050500011501
  • New River-Upper Claytor Lake – 050500011502
  • New River-Lower Claytor Lake – 050500011506
  • Peak Creek-Thorne Springs Branch – 050500011505
  • Tract Fork – 050500011504
  • Peak Creek-Gatewood Reservoir – 050500011503

Upper Little River (0505000116)

Our simplified map of the Upper Little River (0505000116) watershed

The Upper Little River watershed is entirely within the boundaries of Virginia.  The Town of Floyd is within this watershed, and the Blue Ridge Parkway runs along its edge.

There are four 12-digit HUCs, or subwatersheds, in ‚Äč‚Äčthe Upper Little River watershed:

  • Little River – Beaverdam Creek – 050500011601
  • Little River – Pine Creek – 050500011602
  • West Fork Little River – Dodd Creek – 050500011604
  • West Fork Little River – Howell Creek – 050500011603

Lower Little River (0505000117)

Our simplified map of the Lower Little River (0505000117) watershed

The Upper Little River watershed is entirely within the boundaries of Virginia.  It contains communities such as Pilot and Indian Valley, as well as Max Mountain and the Little River.

There are four 12-digit HUCs, or subwatersheds, in ‚Äč‚Äčthe Lower Little River watershed:

  • Little River – Meadow Creek – 050500011705
  • Little River – Big Laurel Creek – 050500011704
  • Big Indian Creek – 050500011703
  • Little River – Lost Bent Creek – 050500011702
  • Little River – Brush Creek – 050500011701

New River – Back Creek (0505000118)

Our simplified map of the New River – Back Creek (0505000118) watershed

The New River РBack Creek watershed is entirely within the boundaries of Virginia.  It is home to the municipalities of Dublin, Radford, Christiansburg, and part of Blacksburg.  The campuses of Virginia Tech and Radford University are both in the watershed.  The Main Plant of the Radford Army Ammunition Plant is here, as is part of the AAP New River Unit.  Walker Mountain serves as the top edge of the watershed, and just north of Parrot, Virginia, the New River exits the Upper New River Basin over Big Falls.

There are six 12-digit HUCs, or subwatersheds, in ‚Äč‚Äčthe New River – Back Creek watershed:

  • Toms Creek – Poverty Creek – 050500011804
  • New River – Dry Branch – 050500011806
  • Back Creek – 050500011805
  • New River – Connellys Run – 050500011801
  • New River – Stroubles Creek – 050500011803
  • Crab Creek – Little River – 050500011802