Chattahoochee - 8 - Metro Columbus/Phenix City

Chattahoochee, Alabama, US/Georgia, US


8 - Metro Columbus/Phenix City (Columbus Whitewater Park)

Usual Difficulty II-III+(IV) (for normal flows)
Length 2 Miles

Group photo on island

Group photo on island
Photo by David Bazemore taken 11/11/13

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-02341460 700 - 30000 cfs II-III+(IV) 00h22m 2090 cfs (running)

River Description

Columbus Georgia has created a fun whitewater park that offers something for many skill levels.  You can run the entire 2-mile course or, if you wish, simply park and play at the Wave Shaper island or CutBait Rapid.

Park and Play trips, attempt to visit (if skill level permits) when releases are at 3 or 4 units (surfing and hole work are possible @ 2 Units). You can surf The Good Wave or play in Work Out Hole above Wave Shaper Rapid.

River Running : Below 3 Units, river running with complete trips are usually the preferred activity. Also great opportunity for eddy work at Tie Snake Rapid at 1 or 2 units.


Please be aware levels go up and down daily and often become big water in couple of hours. Please be sure you are aware of the range for the day you are paddling and understand what conditions are created at those levels.


From the takeout, drive up 11th Street to 2nd Avenue and turn left. Drive approximately 1.9 miles to 35th Street and turn left. Drive one block to 1st Street and turn left. On the right is the Georgia Power sign. Turn on the blacktop road immediately after the Georgia Power sign. Follow this road a few hundred yards to the parking area. There are only 8 parking spots, so plan shuttle accordingly.

Please do not leave anything in your vehicle at the put-in. Advised that you leave all items in the vehicles remaining at the takeout parking garage for safekeeping.
This is a rather remote spot and break-ins do happen.


The takeout parking garage address is 1028 Front Ave., Columbus, GA 31901

The cost to use this parking garage is $2 and is the safest area to park. On the weekends and after 5pm during week, parking is free in the garage. Parking spots around the parking garage are time limited during week - so plan accordingly.
Please be considerate and do not use the reserved parking spaces - as of Oct 2015 they will ticket ($30) parking in designated spots.

Outfitters and Shuttle Service:

OUTSIDE WORLD COLUMBUS - 1025 Broadway, Columbus GA 706-322-4200  (706) 566-8821 Great people for a shuttle ride!

WhiteWater Express shuttle information & store. (706) 321-4720  1000 Bay Ave Columbus, GA 31901


Two blocks east from Wave Shaper Island is Broadway and multiple restuarants are available by foot from Waveshaper Island.

Misc Links:

A great write up about some of the play features in Columbus by some of the Jackson Team! See the YouTube video by Team Jackson

Dam Release info is released daily.

While on the link below, you must change the release selected from "Morgan Falls (Bull Sluice Lake)" to "North Highlands (Bibb Mill Pond)". This dam is directly upstream of put-in for this reach.


Release Translation

1 Unit = 1200cfs

2 Unit = 4500cfs

3 Unit = 8000cfs

4 Unit = 12000cfs 

Georgia Power Release


USGS for 14th Street - Columbus Georgia


Considerations for Water Level Interpretations

  • - The Georgia Power website is great and it appears that the "Turbine Release" info is realtime but this site has limitations. The CFS discharge only reports flows THROUGH the turbines of North Highland Dam, any water flowing over the dam is not included in this value. So be mindful that during flows that exceed 13.5K, water will be spilling over the dam and this CFS value is only to determine turbine release not river flow. Though on the average, Georgia Power wants all the water through the turbine so this CFS value is usually the entire flow of the river.
  • - The USGS page for this reach includes the entire flow of the river in its reporting and updates once an hour at about 15 minutes after the top of the hour.

Permit Information

Permit not required. Local ordinances require life jackets while in the water and this is enforced.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2015-11-13 14:14:58


Stream team editor

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.1Ambush RapidIIPutin Access Playspot Photo
0.680 KII+
1.1Stumpy HoleII+Access Playspot Photo
1.5Tie Snake RapidIIIWaterfall Photo
1.7Monkey WrenchIIPlayspot
1.8Work Out HoleIIPlayspot Photo
1.9Wave Shaper RapidIIIPutin Takeout Access Playspot Photo
1.9Cut Bait RapidIVPutin Takeout Access Hazard Playspot Photo
2.0The Good WaveIIIPutin Takeout Access Playspot Photo
2.0Great WaveN/APutin Takeout Access Playspot
2.1RehabN/ATakeout Access Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Ambush Rapid (Class II, Mile 0.1)

Ambush Rapid

Ambush Rapid
Photo by David Bazemore taken 11/12/13

There is a wall of rock a couple hundred feet after the rapid that requires a quick right line folllowed by a left line. At lower release levels this is an easy section.  At higher levels the water has boils and moves much faster.  This picture was taken during 1 unit of flow.


80 K (Class II+, Mile 0.6)

A small feature that has one line that drops in a hole.  The hole can be strong at certain levels.  Run the left side to avoid the hole if you feel the need.

Stumpy Hole (Class II+, Mile 1.1)

Mason Hargrove learning to Fly

Mason Hargrove learning to Fly
Photo of Mason Hargrove by Matt Hargrove taken 10/04/15 @ 9000 cfs

A pourover hole on near Georgia riverbank - the hole is in at approx 9000cfs. A good spot for loops.

Tie Snake Rapid (Class III, Mile 1.5)

Tie-Snake rapid

Tie-Snake rapid
Photo by David Bazemore taken 11/12/13 @ 4000 cfs

This picture was taken at about 4000 cfs. Scout before running.  The preferred line at this level is far right in the rapid.  Boof a small rock ledge and ride the boil past the hole on river left.  The hole is mildly retentive  at this level.  Also rolling in the hole puts you against the rocks.  At this level there are river right and river left sneak lines.  Each sneak line has some of its own features.

Monkey Wrench (Class II, Mile 1.7)

At 9000 or better there is an amazing playspot river right, but must be caught on the fly, no eddie access. A quick recovery is essential for eddie recovery. A little shallow on surfers right - be mindful of aerial tricks.

Work Out Hole (Class II, Mile 1.8)

Work Out Hole

Work Out Hole
Photo of Clay by David Bazemore taken 11/18/13

A great spot to play at various levels at two to three units.  A quick recovery is needed to keep from washing down into Wave Shaper Rapid.  This hole is immediately above the Wave Shaper Rapid.

Wave Shaper Rapid (Class III, Mile 1.9)

Wave Shaper Rapid

Wave Shaper Rapid
Photo by David Bazemore taken 11/14/13

This picture was taken at 9000 cfs.  At this level it is a fast moving feature with lots of action below the rapid.  Current is very strong under the surface.  You are led directly to The Good Wave below this rapid.

Cut Bait Rapid (Class IV, Mile 1.9)

Cut bait hole

Cut bait hole
Photo by David Bazemore taken 11/14/13

At low flows this section is shallow but runnable.  Rolls can lead to injury during low flow.

The Good Wave (Class III, Mile 2.0)

Good Wave

Good Wave
Photo by David Bazemore taken 11/14/13 @ 4000 cfs

This feature exists at every flow level.  As levels rise it becomes a tremendous wave.  At flows above 8000 this becomes a class 3 wave.  If the pool behind the wave is high and the flow is at least 8k there is marginal eddy service. At 13K there is reliable eddy service.

Great Wave (Class N/A, Mile 2.0)

Directly downstream of  Good Wave. A nice wave to work on surfing. At 2 units the shelf rock that forms rapid is close to surface so keep that boat upright. This wave tends to wash out after an hour or so of 3 or 4 unit release as the pool fills in.

Rehab (Class N/A, Mile 2.1)


Photo by David Bazemore taken 11/18/13

Rehab is the name given to the swim one makes to the steps downstream during higher flows.  Attainment upstream during big releases is incredibly challenging.  The walk back to the island gives you time to reflect on why you missed your roll.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
October 4 2007 (3311 days ago)
Murray LambDetails
GPB article today about new and exciting kayaking below Phoenix dam due to low water opening up
coweta falls region. (see link) if anyone has info locally
please post thinking about a road trip.
October 30 2003 (4746 days ago)
Van AtkinsDetails
Eagle/Phenix Dam is runnable and has been run. I'd post the video on here but I don't want to
encourage anyone else to do it. I ran it when there was just enough water going over to get a clean
move off it. The danger is that there are only a few safe landing zones where there are not rocks
at the bottom and it's impossible to judge where they are from the top. I had someone on the island
below to line me up correctly. We measured it at 22ft. The play spot on river right is good at
optimum levels, but very rarely do they run a good level consistently. With the normal release you
have to be there to catch the water rising when there is a short interval when the hole is good,
but then quickly washes out. At a good level, it's a nice spot where you can spin,cartwheel,blunt,
and loop. ( See loop video above). You can predict when the release will start by looking at the
usgs gage at 280. The release times generally run in patterns which are apparent in the 7 day
graphs. There is a smaller shallow hole, as pictured above under "cartwheel hole" which
is pretty fun in a short boat. The big hole in the middle line, known as the cut bait hole, at the
normal release is very trashy and should be avoided.
Van Atkins
October 10 2003 (4766 days ago)
Sent: Monday, October 06, 2003 12:00 PM
To: ''
Subject: RE: [Paddlers4Christ] Chattahoochee at Columbus

Looks like you have gotten interested in something I have been wanting to do
ever since a couple Columbus, GA paddlers put me onto that spot. I was
leading them down Potato Creek when they told me about it and they said they
often play it after work in the evenings when they release. They said the
flow does not usually come up to a good playable level until after 5 or 6
PM, but then again that info was based upon the drought years we have been
having before this year; this year I am sure the release is a different
story with more water being released more often. The gauge to look at to
check and see if it is running is at
&agency_cd=USGS which is located at US280 which is just south of this park
and play spot. I have been down there a couple times to check it out and
possible put-in and take-outs and to look at the dams they are talking about
removing. There is an awesome river walk they are developing on the
Columbus side that is going to go several miles all the way from well below
the last rapid/the play spots clean up to the dam at "Bibb City". That
river walk they are developing looks like it is going to be a real family
friendly environment for family walks or bike riding. You could bring both
your boat and mountain bike down to this one. The parking and put-ins for
the park and play spots are right now on the Phenix City, AL side to the
north of the Dillingham Street Bridge and south of 13th Street. To bad the
river walk and the park-and-play put-ins are not on the same side of the
river. The rapid there is called Rock Shoals and the dam on the upstream
side at the top of the shoals is I believe called the Eagle Phenix Dam. I
ended up finding three different places to park and then carry the boat to
the base of Rock Shoals. The next dam just a little further upstream is
like approximately a 12 foot high dam and then there is the City Mills Dam
further upstream. Then another couple miles or so further upstream is
approximately a 35-40 foot high dam that they generate electricity at around
the "Bibb City" area of north Columbus. It would really surprise me if they
take that dam out at "Bibb City" but I imagine there is some really good
whitewater behind it. Further yet upstream above US 80 is a substantial dam
called Oliver Dam. Probably zero chance that one is coming out, but we can
always dream. :-) When I have seen the play spots at the base of Rock
Shoals I think the flow was around 10,000 CFS. The Eagle Phenix Dam is at
the top of the rapid. You can paddle up to the bedrock at the base of the
shoals and carry your boat up the portions of the bedrock that is out of the
water and either run a very creekish type of run on the far river right, a
high volume flow run down the middle with a huge hole at the bottom, or a
high volume run down the far river left that ends in some good size wave
train waves at the end. Looked like several of those waves in the wave
train were very playable. I would like to find out from the locals what
that center hole is like before I pop into it or at least paddle out there
and get right to it and study it for a while before I jump into it. Since
the Eagle Phenix Dam is your basic low head pour-over type of dam, the
danger here is the water could rise on you very quickly when they start
releasing water from the dam at "Bibb City" so be careful if you decide to
hike up the shoals itself and have an idea when they tend to increase the
flow amounts. From the times I have checked the internet gauge, I have seen
it go from 1000 to 10,000 CFS very quickly. If it looks low and you do not
know when they will be increasing the flow, then the safe thing to do is do
not climb up on the shoals. At 10,000 CFS there are definitely play spots
to be found; my guess is at 1000 CFS there is nothing there worth the drive
to get there. Let me know if anyone else has any other info. Thanks,
Mark Hicks <><
September 30 2003 (4776 days ago)
Good looking playspot!! Are the dams runable? Whats the word on dam removal??

The water looked pretty clean, I'm guessing west point lake traps the nasty stuff drifting down
from atlanta.

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