After a hard rain, 2-3 inches at least, this run can be caught if you are prepared, otherwise it drops quickly. There is no gauge as of Feb 2019 so you will have to judge it by eye. There is a shoals upstream of Jenning Mill Road (about 450 yards downstream of the first tunnel) that can be used as a gauge. If it looks like you can scrape down the shoals, there is probably enough water in the creek.
Putting in above the first tunnel (see Access tab) gets you tunnel #1 and a fun, safe rapid. The shoals mentioned above is shortly after that. From there to Epps Bridge the creek, while flat, flows very quickly so you have to be on constant alert to dodge trees, pipes and root undercuts. From Epps bridge to the abandoned wooden bridge is a mountain like environment with a couple of small rapids. After the wooden bridge be alert for a small dam with water siphoning through one or more gates. The gates are runnable, if free of wood, but are really a tight squeeze. The gates feed into a large slide. There is a house on river left so scout or portage on river right.
After more tree and pipe dodging is the moment of truth for this run. Get out and hike up to Timothy Rd or enter the 2nd and 3rd tunnels on this creek. Tunnel #2 is 800 feet long and is four parallel tunnels, each very sizeable in width and height. The catch is Tunnel #2 takes a 30 degree bend to the right, half-way into the tunnel. Until you pass the bend, the tunnel is completely pitch black. While logjams do form at the entrance of Tunnel #2, none have been observed in the tunnel. However if there was a logjam in the tunnel and the flow is high, well that is the stuff of nightmares. One way to derisk entering the tunnel is to have a high powered lamp (1200 lumens) and try to peer into the tunnel. If the flow is moving and not getting back up, it is likely clear. All four channels of the tunnel are the same, so pick which ever one is flowing the best. After exiting tunnel #2 and wondering what the big deal is, there is short stretch of fast moving water then you are at tunnel #3. Tunnel #3 is much shorter and does not have a bend, so you can see all the way through it. If you feel tunnel #3 is a no go, you can hike up river right to the exit ramp for the loop, leave your craft and go get your vehicle.
After clearing the tunnel sections and merging with Barber Creek, quickly get river right so you can scout and portage the dam. The dam can be extremely dangerous at certain levels with at least 2 drownings occuring in the dam's hydraulic.
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Permits are not required for this reach.
For the whole enchilada, drive to GPS point 33°55'35.9"N 83°27'55.3"W. This puts you in the back lot of an apartment complex. Hike down to the Creek. At this point you can put on or to get a bit extra fun, cross the creek and hike to the other side of the loop through the river right or middle tunnel and put in above a 3 foot drop that leads into the river left tunnel. You are technically not trespassing but you are at the back of a golf course so act like you belong here but don't dawdle.
If you do not want to run the double tunnels at the end of the run, take out river left just before the first of the two tunnels and hike up to Timothy Road. It is a brutally steep hike but there is a good trail.
After running the loop tunnels and dam section, the take out is the same as for Barber Creek. Walk up to Macon Hwy on a paved drainage ditch downstream of the bridge. It seems to be OK to park in the Mama's Boy parking lot.
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Claude Terry, paddler, outfitter, and conservationist, died on November 20th, 2019. He was 83. A microbiologist by training, Terry began paddling in the mid-1960's while a professor at Emory University. He took to whitewater readily, and it became an important focus of his life. In 1969 he met veteran paddler Doug Woodward, and in 1971 the two became the technical advisers for the movie “Deliverance.” Afterwards, Terry and Woodward purchased the rafts Warner Brothers used in filming and bought 19 acres near the river. This became Southeastern Expeditions, one of the Southeast’s first whitewater outposts on the Chattooga. In 1974, Terry took then-Gov. Jimmy Carter on three trips on the Chatooga River, totaling 57 miles. This inspired Carter to get the Chattooga included in the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and influenced later decisions protecting rivers across the U.S.“Terry adopted me as one of his students,” Carter told Outside Online in a 2017 interview. “it opened my eyes to the relationship between a human being and a wild river that I never had contemplated before that. When I got to be president I vetoed 16 different dam projects all over the United States.” Terry eventually quit his Emory University job and started full time career in environmental advocacy, including founding American Rivers, a principal U.S. conservation group. For the next 30 years he specialized in environmental projects involving rivers and wetlands and later, when he became a board-certified toxicologist, he developed an expertise in hazardous waste cleanups. He was an active paddler until sidelined by Parkinson's Disease. A passionate teacher and advocate, he is sorely missed by all who knew him. Click through for an excellent obituary and a photo of Terry taking Governor Carter over Bull Sluice!
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