Chattooga, Georgia, US/South Carolina, US
|Usual Difficulty||II-V (varies with level)|
|Avg. Gradient||38 fpm|
|Max Gradient||125 fpm|
|CHATTOOGA RIVER AT BURRELLS FORD, NR PINE MTN, GA|
|usgs-02176930||200 - 2000 cfs||II-V||00h58m||777 cfs (running)|
|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.|
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
The upper approximately 2.5 miles of the run is swift water and gradually increased in difficulty culminating in a few Class III ledge drops just upstream of Big Bend Falls. At moderate flows, these drops are easy to approach, scout and run from a boat. Stop on the river right above Big Bend Falls, at approximately Mile 3. The Big Bend Falls rapid is a river-wide waterfall made up of a series of smaller ledges dropping approximately 25 feet. Mile 4 included a number of Class III to IV read-and-run rapids. At approximately Mile 5, you reach four approximately Class IV rapids above the Rock Gorge. The Rock Gorge consists of a series of Class 4 rapids closely spaced in a narrow canyon. Following the Rock Gorge, and approximately 1 mile upstream of Lick Log Creek, the river returns to Class I and swift water. Approximately 200 yards below Lick Log Creek is the required last legal takeout for the run. The next five miles to the 28 bridge consists entirely of swift water but are illegal to boat to protect an artificial fishing experience created by heavy stocking of exotic fish. The total run time is about 5 hours.(adapted from FS Expert Panel Report)
This run is the best scenic run on the Chattooga. The moss covered rock cliffs along the sides, relatively open vistas from the water, and relaxed nature of the trip makes this a wonderful way to spend the day on the water. The rapids are all significant so its a long flatwater trip if you don't have Class V skills.
|Big Bend Trailhead||N34°57.006'||W83°06.870'|
|Rock-in the-Hole-in the-Wall||N34°56.509'||W83°07.237'|
|Lick Log Creek Trailhead||N34°55.821'||W83°07.878'|
Chattooga Cliffs (AKA Section 00)
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)|
|2.7||Big Bend Falls||5.1|
|4.5||Rock-in the-Hole-in the-Wall||IV+|
|5.8||Upper Big Hairy Bastard||IV|
|5.9||Lower Big Hairy Bastard||IV|
|7.4||Lick Log Creek Trail||N/A|
This waterfall is one of the largest drops on the river. Lines exist on the far right and left but the consequences of missing are large. In an emergency there is a trail head just upstream from the falls at the right bend in the river that goes up to the Big Bend road. Low Water
Significant drop signaled by a rocky slide upstream. A rock resides in the middle of the hole in the bottom of the drop. Run to either edge of the hole.
Drop into a large hole that is backed up by a rock that intensifies hole quickly with higher water. Trees tend to hang up here. There is an alternate route down river right if needed. Low Water
Converging water feeds into rock wall on left shore Low Water
Designated Take Out, Emergency Access Point From the river to the parking lot is about 3/4 mile all uphill
This should be the take out except for an arbitrary decision by the Forest Service to protect a heavily stocked artificial trout park on the last two miles of this reach. Boating is banned on this reach with no justification.