This photo needs editing.
Difficulty II-V
Length 3.8 Miles
Flow Range 600 - 20000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 54 minutes ago 126 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 03/03/2006 7:55 pm

River Description

Sources: S. Welander, B. Sehlinger and D. Otey, A Canoeing & Kayaking Guide to Georgia (2004); B. Sehlinger and D. Otey, Northern Georgia Canoeing (1980).

This is the most exciting section of the Chestatee, including Class II-II+ rapids at the put-in and in the first 2+ miles, Class 5.0 Grindle Falls (a/k/a Grindle Shoals)and Class III+ Copper Mine at the take-out. The two miles from shortly below Grindle Falls to shortly above Copper Mine are flatwater.

The put-in at Town Creek Church Bridge (a/k/a Garnett Bridge) includes a parking area sufficient for several cars. The easest way down the steep hill to the river is via the path on the upstream side of the bridge, right at the parking area.

There is an alternative put-in/take-out at Grindle Bridge, 1.8 miles below the put-in. Parking is scarce, however, the land surrounding the bridge is privately owned and the owners are not big fans of boaters. Please use Grindle Bridge as a drop-and-drive put-in/take-out and do not leave vehicles parked there during your run.

Grindle Falls (a/k/a Grindle Shoals) is a fun series of vertical drops and slides. The falls can be run by going either right or left of the island above them (see comments below): scouting is necessary to make sure the chosen route isn't blocked by trees. In the past there have been access problems with the landowner on the river right bank. Its best to be quick and discreet when scouting from either bank or portaging.

Portaging Grindle Falls is difficult: neither bank is easy, but the left is less difficult. The property on both sides is private, so do not linger. There is no good portgage option other than the banks: the least bad road portgage would be take the road east about a mile to where Tesnatee Creek nearly meets the road, then take Tesnatee Creek back to the Chestatee shortly below Grindle Falls.

Fun factoid: Sehlinger and Otey (1980) considered Grindle Falls to be a mandatory portage. To quote an unidentified contributor to this page, "we have come a long way since then."

NOTE: the property at the confluence of Testnatee Creek and the Chestatee (river right on Testnatee Creek, river left on the Chestatee) is currently on the market. If you know any potential paddling-friendly buyer for that property, please email the streamkeeper at

The takeout is just below the concrete bridge two miles below Grindle Falls. Just above the bridge is a small dam, the remnant of a collapsed larger dam that provided electricity for the now-closed copper mine. There are several lines through the dam, the largest and cleanest of which is to the left of center.

Class III+ Copper Mine, about 100 yards below the bridge, should be scouted. If you prefer to take out before Copper Mine, stay to the right of the small island on river left just below the bridge, then turn left just below the island and take out at the wash. You can follow the path back upstream to the bridge (don't go up the road to the right - its fenced at the top) or downstream to put back in below Copper Mine.

Copper Mine consists of three ledges, of which the first is the most challenging. The usual run is angling left, just to the left of the boulder slightly right of center, but other routes are possible. The usual route for the two lower ledges is on river right.

The take-out is shortly below Copper Mine, around the small point on river left. Take the path back to the bridge (don't go up the road to the right - its fenced at the top) or above the rapid to run it again.

An interesting feature at the take-out is the old copper mine the rapid is named for. The mine entrance is on river left near the end of the rapid. In the 1970's, a concert was held in the large chamber reached via that entrance. Another artifiact of the copper mining era is the steel remnant of the bridge that used to carry the road over the Chestatee and provided access to the mine.

Though rarely or never patrolled, the entire left bank is private property. Please do not litter, damage the property in any way or linger overlong.


Take Highway 400 to where it ends at Highway 60 in Lumpkin County. Continue straight on the two-lane road, through the stoplight at the Highway 52 intersection. The take-out is at the bridge about .8 mile beyond that intersection. The dirt road down to the river left bank is now blocked by a fence, so parking is roadside only. The path to/from the take-outs above and below Copper Mine rapid begins under the south (river left) end of the bridge.

To reach the put-in, continue north until the road ends at Cavender Creek Road. (From that intersection, the alternative put-in/take-out at Grindle Bridge is about 1.3 mile to the right on Cavender Creek Road.) Turn left on Cavender Creek Road, go about one mile and turn right on Town Creek Church Road. You'll recross the Chestatee in about 2 miles: parking for the put-in is on the left just beyond the bridge.

Rapid Descriptions

Town Creek Church Bridge (a/k/a Garnett Bridge)

Class - II Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Easiest carry down the hill is via the concrete drainage channel starting right at the parking area. Put in either above or below the Class II-II+ rapid beneath the bridge. At higher water levels, the rapid is a small playspot.

Slide above Grindle

Class - III Mile - 2.25

Grindle Falls

Class - 5.0 Mile - 2.3
You will know you are at the falls when you see a considerable horizon line. This is a steep rapid where you can choose to either run next to the right bank or the left bank. The left line ends up at the split boulder waterfall. The right line drops over three 7-10 ft. technical slides/ledges before converging with the left line. Then a calm pool for 40 about feet, then a steep rock slide that drops about 15-20 feet (not pictured on the site).

Slides below Grindle Falls

Class - III Mile - 2.35


Class - I Mile - 2.4
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Tesnatee Creek comes in on the left and it is flatwater to Copper Mine.

Copper Mine dam

Class - I Mile - 3.75
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Remnant of an old, collapsed dam, now only about two feet high. Several lines, depending on water level: the largest and easiest is to the left of center.

Copper Mine rapid

Class - III+ Mile - 3.8
A series of 3 and 4 foot tall ledges. The first is all you have to worry about. Run on the left side of the rock, stay about 10 feet from it and angle left. Going next the the rock would feed you into a nasty pothole. Some enderspots on the last 2 ledges at the right levels.


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Rick Bellows
13 years ago

New Streamkeeper: Rick Bellows,

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16 years ago

From Ranger Rob:
Since most of you want to know about the waterfall mishap, here goes:

Last weekend I noticed that the Chestatee River was running, so that

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16 years ago

In order to run the left line over the falls you must head down the river left side of the first island.
It is easy to carry up and run the left and right lines from the pool below the vertical drop.

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Chris Gorman
16 years ago

After reading the American whitewater page i was under the impression that Grindle falls consisted of only a 10 foot waterfall that was split by and rock

The truth is that there is more to Grindle falls than just the split-rock waterfall. There are about 50 more feet to it :) When I came to the top of Grindle falls it was quite a horizon line ("a little big for ten feet" I thought)

I went with most of the flow down the right side of the river which I find out later totally misses the falls pictured on the AW page. I am not sure how to get to the top of those falls (which were at the left river bank). The right side drops through three 10-15 foot drops/slides. I turn around and see the pictured falls (Quite a sight actually, I will get pictures up on AW when I get the film developed). Then I go down a 7 foot slide, then a 15 foot one to end Grindle falls.

After that it is flatwater until the coppermine rapid which is directly before the take-out. The best line is through the center shoot with some left angle. Also there is a really interesting copper mine at the takeout (an actual mine). It is a huge cavern that someone told me has an underground river beneath it.

Gage Descriptions

Online gauge is well downstream, so check visually before putting in.



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





Rick Bellows


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1193177 03/03/06 Rick Bellows n/a