Chattooga - Rock Gorge - Burrell's Ford to Lick Log Creek

Chattooga, Georgia, US/South Carolina, US


Rock Gorge - Burrell's Ford to Lick Log Creek (AKA Section 1)

Usual Difficulty II-V (varies with level)
Avg. Gradient 38 fpm
Max Gradient 125 fpm


Photo by Brian Jacobson В© 2007 @ 1.6-1.6 at Burls

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-02176930 200 - 2000 cfs II-V 00h21m 98.2 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.

River Description



The new rules include:

  1. Allow paddling to occur between Green Creek and Lick Log Creek (about 15 of the 21 miles of the Upper Chattooga),
  2. Allow paddling to occur between December 1 and April 30, on days when flows have hit 350 cfs or higher.
  3. Permit must be obtained at locations shown below.  Burrell's Ford (GA side) is easiest for this reach.
  4. Leave paddling banned on the uppermost two miles, the lower four miles, and all tributaries all year. 
  5. It would also ban paddling from May 1 through November 30 on the entire Upper Chattooga, and on all days when flows have not hit 350 cfs or above.
  6. Impose no direct limits on other similar visitors.


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

This page was put together from information gained during the Forest Service Boater Trials as shown in this video and Trip Report

River Description

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.

Emergency Locations

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'


Reach Profile



Related Reaches
Chattooga Cliffs (AKA Section 00)

Ellicott Rock (AKA Section 0)

Rock Gorge (AKA Section 1)


Woody Debris

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 Information

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.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2013-04-19 14:30:28


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Burrell's FordN/APutin
2.7Big Bend Falls5.1Waterfall Photo
4.5Rock-in the-Hole-in the-WallIV+Hazard Photo
5.2Maytag5.0Hazard Photo
5.6Harvey WallbangerIVPhoto
5.8Upper Big Hairy BastardIVPhoto
5.9Lower Big Hairy BastardIV
7.4Lick Log Creek TrailN/ATakeout Photo
11.328 BridgeN/AAccess

Rapid Descriptions

Big Bend Falls (Class 5.1, Mile 2.7)

Big Bend Falls

Big Bend Falls
Photo of Big Bend Falls by Todd Corey В© 2007 taken 01/05/07 @ 1.5 (Burls)

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

Rock-in the-Hole-in the-Wall (Class IV+, Mile 4.5)

Rock in the Hole in the Wall

Rock in the Hole in the Wall
Photo of Wade Vagias by Brian Jacobson В© 2007 taken 01/05/07 @ 1.5 (Burls)

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.

Maytag (Class 5.0, Mile 5.2)


Photo by Brian Jacobson В© 2007 @ 1.6-1.6 at Burls

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

Harvey Wallbanger (Class IV, Mile 5.6)

Harvey Wallbanger

Harvey Wallbanger
Photo of Don Piper by Brian Jacobson В© 2007 taken 01/05/07 @ 1.5 (Burls)

Converging water feeds into rock wall on left shore Low Water

Upper Big Hairy Bastard (Class IV, Mile 5.8)

Upper BHB

Upper BHB
Photo of Ben Ellis by Brian Jacobson В© 2007 taken 01/05/07 @ 1.5 (Burls)

Blind approach into slide.

Lower Big Hairy Bastard (Class IV, Mile 5.9)
Boulder garden rapid with hidden holes

Lick Log Creek Trail (Class N/A, Mile 7.4)


Photo taken 01/19/13

Designated Take Out, Emergency Access Point  From the river to the parking lot is about 3/4 mile all uphill

28 Bridge (Class N/A, Mile 11.3)

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.

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  • Chattooga Headwaters (NC)
    The US Forest Service has banned boating on the upper 21 miles of the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River.