CHATTOOGA RIVER & TRIBUTARIES

A Note about River Etiquette:
The Chattooga River Wild and Scenic corridor and the Ellicott Rock Wilderness Area are enjoyed by individuals of varied backgrounds and interests. Always respect the activities of others. Consider other's access to solitude and quiet, particularly the fishermen and hikers. For example, it is customary to paddle on the opposite side of the river when passing fishermen, leaving their fishing water undisturbed. We all share this great space.

West Fork
The West Fork of the Chattooga begins at the confluence of Big, Holcomb and Overflow creeks and continues down stream to its entrance into the Chattooga River, 7 miles in length. The Overflow Creek, above Overflow Creek Rd. Bridge is comprised of large waterfalls.
Below Overflow Creek Rd. Bridge, the water is calm. Perfect for an afternoon float trip in a canoe or inner-tube. The last four miles are the only section of the West Fork, where paddling is legal.

Section II
Section II runs from Hwy 28 Bridge to Earl's Ford, a stretch measuring just under 8 miles in length. Paddling and tubing are permitted on this section, and though it flows parallel to the road, developed access is minimal. The Russell Bridge and parking lot is a river access point, as well as Low Water Bridge (also known as Long Bottom Ford). From that point on you, you must continue on to Earl's Ford. There is one significant rapid in this section, a class II, known as Big Shoals, scouting is recommended. It can be portaged, when desired. Most of this section of the river is a scenic float trip, hence the allowance of tubing. It is illegal to paddle above the Hwy 28 Bridge.

Section III
Section III runs from Earl's Ford to the Highway 76 Bridge, 14 miles. It has an excellent mix of rapids, mostly class II and class III, however many of them require scouting for the Chattooga novice. Some of those recommended for scouting include: Dick's Creek (aka First Ledge) the line is about 20' off shore, river right; Second Ledge, the line is about 10' off shore, river left; and Painted Rock, the move is river left to river right. The Narrows is also another foreboding space on the river. While it is difficult to scout (it is canyon-like with steep, rock walls where the river narrows) the general rule is to eddy hop and stay right at the bottom. While the left bottom drop does not look dangerous, it is. The largest rapid on Section III is also almost the last, Bull Sluice, a mandatory scout. This class IV-V rapid, dependent on water level, will be the greatest moment in a Section III trip, if run. However, for those who have not yet developed the whitewater skills to run it, it can easily be portaged on the right (west) side. Just be aware of slippery rocks and snakes.

Section IV
The last seven miles of the Chattooga River is where the best, most exciting whitewater and scenery can be found in the Southeast. Class III and IV's are common, with one class VI (Woodall Hole).

Bridge to Woodall
The first two miles of Section IV (Hwy. 76 Bridge to Woodall Shoals Beach) are a collection of rapids closer together, as well as, longer and larger than those located upstream. Most of the rapids in this portion of Section IV are class III drops or technical shoal-type areas. Among the rapids located in this stretch are Surfing Rapid, Screaming Left Hand Turn, and Rock Jumble, all located above the long calm spot known as Sutton's Hole. At the end of this portion are Woodall Hole and Woodall Shoals. It is important to make note that Woodall Hole is a class VI, Keeper Hydraulic. This rapid combination should always be scouted, taking out at the upper end of the rock formation forming Woodall Hole, on river left. This is also the method of portage. The Hole may be cheated on far river right when the water level is high enough. The shoals extend for approximately 200' beyond the initial ledge at Woodall Hole.

Seven Foot Falls
A few hundred feet down stream of Woodall is Seven Foot Falls, the first, very large drop on this section of the river. Always scout these rapids. Seven Foot is a very tall, complicated drop, run sideways left to right. Beware of the left tongue in this drop.

Stekoa Creek and Long Creek Falls
One mile down stream of Seven Foot, Stekoa Creek enters the river on river right. Approximately 200' downstream of Stekoa, Long Creek enters the Chattooga. Long Creek Falls is worth a pause to see and is only approximately 50' from the river's edge, but be cautious on the slippery rocks and do not climb onto the waterfall. A variety of plant and animal species, some rare, make this location their home and stepping on some plant-life can kill it.

Deliverance Rock and Raven Chute
Further down stream of Long Creek Falls are the rapids Deliverance Rock and Raven Chute, both large rapids with undercut rock and pot hole hazards. Deliverance Rock is the rapid with the bus-size boulder at the bottom right and Raven Chute is easily identified from the 200' tall rock formation (Raven Rock) encircling river left, just down stream of the rapid.

Camp Creek
Approximately one mile downstream of Raven Rock is the high water takeout for Section IV, Camp Creek. This river right, small beach and trail are the last chance for an exodus, before entering the Five Falls, the major rapid section of Section IV.

Five Falls
The Five Falls are the crowning achievement of the 250 million year old, geological processes of the Chattooga River. Five class IV-V rapids; Entrance (First Ledge), Corkscrew, Crack In The Rock, Jawbone and Sock-em Dog, in rapid succession, in a narrow, boulder-strewn strip of whitewater emptying into a pool of water known as Dead man's Pool. The gradient drop of the five falls averages almost 300' per mile, an extreme loss of elevation in whitewater terms. It is an area of dangerous hydraulics and unseen underwater hazards, some of which are almost certainly fatal. Never attempt to raft or boat the Five Falls of the Chattooga River without a seasoned, professional guide, and/or extensive class IV, or above, personal whitewater experience. Even then, it is recommended you go for your first trip with someone with Chattooga River experience and only after extensive research on the river and area.

Shoulder Bone
Dead Man's Pool flows into Shoulder Bone Rapid, containing hazards of its own. Do not ease up your guard, just when you have managed to successfully navigate the Five Falls. While this location is a breath-taking sight and ride, it is equally as hazardous.

Lake Tugaloo
The Chattooga River flows into Lake Tugaloo, less than half a mile below the Five Falls. Lake Tugaloo is an undeveloped, isolated body of water surrounded by high, rocky ridgelines, created when the lower Chattooga was flooded by the creation of a Hydraulic Dam. Just under three miles from where the Chattooga River joins Lake Tugaloo, is the take-out. Private boaters are required to paddle the length of this. The commercial outfitters have motorboat tows meeting their trips at the base of the Chattooga, reaching the landing in approximately twenty minutes. However, generally the motorboat operators are not permitted to provide private boaters with a ride. The paddle across the lake for a private boater in a kayak is approximately 40 minutes (with no breaks).