Chattooga, North Carolina, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV-V (varies with level)|
|Avg. Gradient||78 fpm|
|Max Gradient||174 fpm|
|CHATTOOGA RIVER AT BURRELLS FORD, NR PINE MTN, GA|
|usgs-02176930||350 - 1200 cfs||IV-V||00h36m||100 cfs (too low)|
|Due to an arbitrary decision by the Forest Service, the river is not boatable unless the river has previously exceeded 350 cfs the same day.|
Legal access to portions of the Headwaters began in December 2012
The new rules include:
These severe restrictions are the only of their kind in the entire Unites States, and are intended to benefit anglers who pursue heavily stocked non-native trout. The artificial fishery created by the USFS-sanctioned stocking has significant impacts including hatchery pollution, backcountry helicopter disturbances, near elimination of native brook trout, user created angling trails, and the elimination of nature based paddling from the upper Chattooga River. Ironically, the USFS decision actually harms anglers across the Country by creating potential competition for wild rivers that are currently shared by all forms of backcountry recreationists, and by degrading the rights of anglers to fish from a boat.
During a press briefing, the acting Sumter Forest Supervisor, Monica Schwalbach, stated that the US Forest Service has determined that boating on the upper Chattooga -- even in unlimited numbers -- "would have no impact on the resource."
AW has been working for a decade to bring responsible, nationally consistent river management to the Chattooga, and this work continues today.
For more information about American Whitewater's efforts to remove this boating ban go to the Chattooga Project page
Approximately 2 miles downstream of the Green Creek put-in, a river-wide logjam formed around two large boulders that created three narrow channels. The log jam appears to be from old floods and appears to function as a strainer for most floating debris coming down upper reaches.
A small ledge defines the beginning of the whitewater immediately downstream of the logjam that continues approximately 1.2 miles down to Bull Pen Bridge. The upper 2/3-mile has the most difficult rapids. The river enters a narrow canyon defined by steep rocky cliffs overhung above by dense vegetation. The rapids are close together, constricted and easy to approach and scout at this flow. The rapids are generally Class IV or V-, with one difficult sieve that may be boatable at higher flows. Strainers and sieves are common on this reach and a portage or two can be expected. After "the Sieve" the river mellows to Class III-IV the last mile to the bridge. The run required 2.5 hours for a 4 mile trip. (adapted from FS Expert Panel Report)
This run is about the unique river features and closed in feel of the river. It is a lot of work for the few rapids and would be visited to experience an almost primordial sense of the river. The entry hike of almost two miles is long but easier than many other runs such as the Toxaway, Horsepasture or Ravens.
The upper two miles of the Wild and Scenic corridor runs through private property. The property owner does not allow the Forest Service access for management or study and denies access to the river. The river corridor in this section is not protected with conservation easements and has no protection against development.
|Bull Pen Bridge||N35°00.938'||W83°07.589'|
This section of the Chattooga has special concerns about large woody debris for fish habitat. Please respect the environment and leave wood as you find it, even if it adds a portage. The Chattooga has a remarkable ability to clean itself and the rapid may be ready next time.
For more information about woody debris in rivers go to Large Woody Debris and Stream Ecology
Permit must be obtained at Green Creek Trail, County Line Trail, or Bull Pen Bridge in NC, Burrell’s Ford Rd (GA side of the river), Warwoman Campground (FR 86) and Overflow Creek in GA, or Hwy 28 boat landing, Low Water Bridge, Earl’s Ford, Sandy Ford, Fall Creek, Thrift’s Ferry, Hwy 76 / Bull Sluice lot, and Woodall Shoals in SC.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.5||Log Jamb (Impaction)||N/A|
|0.9||Potholes Left, Logs Right||IV+|
|0.9||Beauty and Beast||IV+|
|1.1||Whoa Nellie! (aka Sieve Rapid)||5.1|
|2.0||Bull Pen Rapid||5.0|
You reach the put in after a 1 mile up and down hill hike to the confluence of Green Creek and the Chattooga. Start on Chattooga trail and hike 3/4 mile. When you see a piece of large cable on the right side of the trail go 100 yards further and look for Green Creek trail to left going downhill beside a small water seep/stream. (Green trail on map) If you get the wooden handrail you went too far.
Trail leaves out of back right and permit box is 100 yds down the trail on left.
Slide drop between two holes
Two large boulders catch all the logs headed down the river. A must portage. The best route is to the left. Be careful of shifting logs. These trees are big enough to break a leg or worse if they move and they are stacked like pickup sticks.
Narrow turbulent drop into a pothole lined gorge, long runout and setting safety not possible for entire drop.
Easy line with a lot of hazard. The obvious line is left but this leads into a pothole that feeds a pinch point. The actual line is farther right beside the large rock. The line was right beside a partially submerged log on our trip.
Long approach into last alleyway. Initial approach relatively easy but a must catch eddy before a fast chute feeding into a strainer with a thin line on the left.
Sieve with thin line on left. Easy portage on bedrock around left side. Often holds wood, no eddy above. Scout from above Beauty.
Tight alleyway that ends in sieve rapid. No vegetation grows by the river due to stripping during large floods. Portage Sieve Rapid on the right over the large rock being carefull of the surrounding undercuts and siphons.
This drop is not runnable at low water and is very difficult to portage at high water. At low water the entire river goes under the rocks on river right. At high water a large hole forms at the bottom. First run on 1/11/14 by Russ Langley at 1500 cfs.
See the video here:
Angled ledge with potholes and undercut rock on right side but clear line down left. A log is wedged in the veil parallel to the drop. Whoa Nellie! can be seen in the background at an unrunable low level.
Down the middle, watch for hidden wood
Blind ledge with line on left
Chattooga Meeting this Saturday, 9/29
September 25, 2007
Chattooga Meeting Poses New Challenges
October 5, 2007
More Chattooga Delays - Another Season Lost
December 20, 2007
Surprise: More Chattooga Delays
March 7, 2008
USFS Announces More Chattooga Delays (Again)
June 26, 2008
USFS Chattooga River Proposal Released
July 2, 2008
Nationwide Chattooga Comments Needed
July 9, 2008
Yet Another Chattooga Delay, Again...
December 19, 2008
AW Seeks to End Chattooga Delays (NC/SC/GA)
May 28, 2009
USFS Offers Brief Chattooga Update
July 10, 2009
USFS Decides No Upper Chattooga Boating This Winter
October 30, 2009
USFS Withdraws Chattooga Decisions and Analyses
December 22, 2009
Paddlers Get Their Day In Court on Chattooga
October 14, 2010
Paddlers Succeed in Chattooga Hearing - Case Moves Ahead!
December 4, 2010
Call for Chattooga River Comments
July 29, 2011
Conservation-Oriented Paddlers File Comments On Upper Chattooga
August 31, 2011
Court Sides with Paddlers on Several Chattooga Issues
February 23, 2012
Chattooga River Update - Some Boating Possibly Allowed Soon
March 16, 2012
Upper Chattooga Rules Shared - Paddling to Start Soon!
November 27, 2012
Chattooga Court Hearing Marks Progress for Paddlers
December 6, 2012
Comment Opportunity on Upper Chattooga Access
October 28, 2014
Court Finds 2012 Chattooga Decision Legal
November 11, 2014
Forest Service Supports Chattooga Trails (NC/SC/GA)
May 20, 2015
Report covering the recreation users, use, economic impacts, and economic benefits of the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River.
Letters in opposition of paddling on the Chattooga from Paul Broun, Robin Hayes and J. Gresham Barrett - Congressional Representatives