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Difficulty I-III+(IV)
Length 4 Miles
Flow Range 1.70 - 8.00 FT
Flow Rate as of: 18 minutes ago 1.65 [FT] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 03/28/2011 4:33 am

River Description

So your friends are running the Cartecay AGAIN for the 100th time this weekend and it just rained. The idea seems horribly boring so you are thinking there must be something else you can do.
There is an alternative, Clear Creek. Clear Creek is the small stream that confluences with the Cartecay at the base of Clear Creek Falls. Perhaps you have looked up it wondering what could be found upstream in that flood scoured riverbed.
Clear Creek was once fairly congested with trees, but the massive and I mean massive 2004 floods following the hurricanes gouged the creek bed free of almost all strainers and debris.
There is no direct gauge for Clear Creek. The nearest stream Fausset Creek is a good indicator. A quarter inch of rain is good enough to make it run since the watershed has been badly damaged by the floods. The creek is as a result rather flashy and drops quickly.

To reach the put in turn right onto Lower Cartecay Rd. after leaving the ÂRiver Right put in from the Cartecay and drive about 200 yards. Take a right on Old Clear Creek Rd. Drive till you see Parker Dr. on your left. Go right here and almost immediately turn right again on Blackberry Mnt. Rd. Basically Stay on Blackberry Mountain Rd. as it twists and turns around along the ridgelines. You will eventually drop down into a river valley with a small bridge this is the put in. If it looks good then you have enough water. The takeout is at the Cartecay DNR takeout. Just go back to Lower Cartecay Rd and go left. Drive till the Rd. ends at Hwy 52. Take a left and drive till you see the DNR sign at the dump and go left again. Drive around the dump and down to the Cartecay river takeout. (THIS IS NOT THE BLACKBERRY TAKEOUT). The shuttle takes about 20 minutes.

Clear Creek could be a great beginner creeking trip. The only downsides are the unreliable water and possibly less an optimum water quality. The creek does drain some farmlands so expect the runoff to have some input from cattle.
Clear Creek starts off as a fairly easy Class I stream with some small shoals and occasionally overhanging trees. The floods of 2004 removed almost all strainers but some trees will require ducking under them. High water could require some short portages.
After about 10 minutes of floating, most boaters will notice the change in stream morphology and the massive rock island and outcrops blocking downstream view. This is the approach to Timber Falls. The medium to low water line is on river right. The drop is a double drop rapid with an undercut left wall. The high-water line is on river left over a single drop.
Almost immediately downstream with river makes a 180 degree turn around a rock outcrop and drops over a ledge into a tight flume. Stay left on the ledge to avoid the pinning rock in this drop.
Clear Creek then pools up above Headless Horseman, the hardest drop. This drop is a single rocky ledge into a narrow flume. The river is undercut on the left and will smack you in the face if the water level is high and you miss the line. There are some shallow rocks on the approach that can nock boats around.

After Headless Horseman the river calms down till you reach the final sliding drop. Both the center and left side of this rapid are good to go. Approximately 100 yards below Finale, Clear Creek confluences with the Cartecay River at the base of Clear Creek Falls.

Rapid Descriptions

Timber Falls (left line)

Class - N/A Mile - 0.4

The left line is a sliding drop.

Timber Falls

Class - III Mile - 0.4
The first major rapid is Timber Falls. Apperently a rd "Timber Falls Rd." comes fairly close to this drop on river right. The rapid is easy on both river left (single drop) or river right (double drop). The lower water line is on river right.


Class - III Mile - 0.5
After a small pool below Timber Falls the river makes a very strong turn around a blind drop. The top drop is a slide with a bad pinning rock on the right. The rapid then becomes a narrow flume and ends in the pool above Headless Horseman.

Headless Horseman (view of approch)

Class - III Mile - 0.6
A solid class III rapid. Headless Horseman is a slide into a vertical ledge with a pinning rock on the right and a big undercut on the left. At higher flows the rock on the left will smack you in the face.

Headless Horseman (bottom + view of undercut)

Class - III Mile - 0.6
You can see the undercut ledge on the left.


Class - II+ Mile - 0.9
Finale is a slideing drop that is fairly straightforward and easy on the left or center. The right line is obstructed with rocks and a tree.

Clear Creek Falls

Class - III Mile - 1.01
Clear Creek enters the Cartecay at the base of Clear Creek falls. An easy walk to the top lets boaters run this drop.


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Christopher Chase Newman
6 years ago

We did a DNR run the other day and even though Clear Creek was low I wanted to hike up and check it out. For anyone who runs the Cartecay because of convenience but also wishes there were more rapids on it.....the hike up to Clear Creek is worth it. Can't wait to go back when there's more water in it. Makes for a long day on the water if you do the Cartecay first and play any at all, so start early.

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Chuck Kirk
7 years ago

As of August 25, 2013 all rapids from Timber Falls down are clean and clear of debris after the recent floods. The high water flushed everything out including several feet of soil from the banks.

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Jon Carlson
9 years ago

as of 4/15/11 all rapids are clear. I ran it at 1.86 and scraped over 2 trees down in flatwater but all rapids are clear and good to go

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Chuck Kirk
10 years ago

The log below Finale is no longer blocking the creek.

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Chuck Kirk
11 years ago

As of 2/28/2009 there is a log that is blocking the right line at Timber falls. 2 other logs block the entire creek as well - 1 before Timber falls that can be squeezed under depending on the level and 1 below Finale that must be portaged.

Gage Descriptions

The gauge is based on a nearby stream and correlations look good.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports




article main photo

Claude Terry, paddler, outfitter, and conservationist, dies

Charlie Walbridge

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!






Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1199715 03/28/11 BradR
1192919 01/30/06 wreeves n/a