Cartecay - 2. Lower Cartecay Road to Stegall Mill Road Road

Cartecay, Georgia, US


2. Lower Cartecay Road to Stegall Mill Road Road (Middle Cartecay)

Usual Difficulty I-II+(III) (for normal flows)
Avg. Gradient 28 fpm
Max Gradient 50 fpm

Blackberry Falls

Blackberry Falls
Photo by Greg Watson taken 01/06/07 @ 2.00

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-02379500 1.50 - 6.00 ft I-II+(III) 00h30m 1.8 ft (running)
Lower flows will have water but with a lot of scraping above S-Turn. Higher levels in this range are good beginner levels.

River Description

Gauge Description:
The gauge is located at the East Ellijay city limits on Highway 52 - about 1/4 mile east of the Highway 515 bridge.

Here is a tip for running the Lower Cartecay when the level is near minimum:  Drive to the the take-out on Mulkey Road and look at the shoals there.  If it looks high enough to run, it is.  Remember the gauge is down river so it matters whether the level is rising or dropping.  

Most of this section of the Cartecay River runs through a residential area. There are no restrooms after you put in and most of the river banks are on private property. So, please take care of these needs before putting on.  You will paddle past cabins and homes on both sides of the river for most of this section. Most of the homeowners are friendly toward the boating community, but they do not want to see you nude, nor do they want you going to the bathroom in their yard. It is recommended that you keep your groups small and quiet and not stay too long at any one spot, or put on the river after dark.  In short, please be respectful to the home owners.

Put in at the bridge on Lower Cartecay Road. There are put-ins on river right and river left. Managed by commercial outfitters these access points have their own sets of rules. If you prefer, you can put in at Highway 52 and paddle the extra mile down to Lower Cartecay Road, but be prepared to portage because this section will likely have some strainers (deadfall) on on it.

The Stegall Mill Road takeout is just past the bridge downriver from "Blackberry Falls" on river right. Please do not change clothes at the takeout.  You should be aware that parking is limited and the parking lot is closed from Friday through Monday from May 15th to September 15th. If you take out here, you should arrange for someone to pick you up after you get off the river.

When the level is 2.2' or better it is worth it to paddle on down to the DNR takeout.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-05-16 18:49:26


Stream team editor

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
1.3Rock GardenII
1.5Surfing RapidII
2.3Blackberry FallsII+Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Sexton's (Class II, Mile 1.0)


Photo of Seth Chapelle by Richard Hopley, Monocacy Canoe Club

About a mile below Lower Cartecay Road you will see some houses on river right. These houses look out of place in the mountains because they have long green lawns leading down to the river. Here, a narrow chute on river right forms a small Class II rapid. Run it down the right and eddy out left or right at the bottom.

Rock Garden (Class II, Mile 1.3)
A quarter mile down river is "Rock Garden", another Class II. Look for a narrow slot in the middle of the drop at the top of the rapid. Go over the drop with a left angle and immediately make a sharp turn back to the right. Follow the channel down the middle, but look out for a pinning rock about 1/3 of the way down. Eddy out at the bottom on the right or the left. There is a decent squirt spot on river left at the bottom. Large kayaks and canoes may have trouble navigating Rock Garden at levels below 1.2'.

Surfing Rapid (Class II, Mile 1.5)
After Rock Garden work your way through some shoals and pools until you come to a river wide ledge known as "Surfing Rapid. Here is a good place for beginners to work on their surfing skills. It has a good recovery pool and a nice beach, but you should be prepared to roll or get rescued because it is easy to flip here. More shoals after "Surfing Rapid", then "S-Turn".

S-Turn (Class II+, Mile 1.8)

Diane Neisler Runs S-Turn

Diane Neisler Runs S-Turn
Photo of Diane Neisler by Mark Neisler taken 1996 @ 2'

An island in the middle of the river marks the entrance to "S-Turn". Run left of the island and stay far left to avoid getting stuck on rocks. Beginners will want to scout "S-Turn". Eddy out on river left to scout. The most distinguishing feature of this rapid is the sluice that forms at the top of the ledge on river left. The river makes a sharp right turn through the sluice, and then quickly turns back to the left. Most beginners will run this rapid by aggressively paddling through the sluice and turning left after the drop. Others will catch the large eddy on river right and continue the run from there. At levels above 2.0' you can skip the sluice and drop straight over the ledge. Either way, you need to paddle aggressively the rest of the way. Punch the hole at the bottom. Eddy out river right or river left. If you eddy left be aware of the undercut rock at the bottom of the eddy. "S-Turn" is rated Class II+ at normal levels. At 4-6' it is definitely a solid Class III.

Whirlpool (Class II+, Mile 2.0)

(RM) Whirl Pool

(RM) Whirl Pool
Photo of Amy Conger by Rob Maxwell @ 2.5 ft

"Whirlpool" gets its name from the large swirling eddy on river right at the bottom of the rapid. Beginners will want to avoid this and eddy left, where there is a large pool. Be careful though, because the left eddy has a very dynamic eddy line. For best results run "Whirlpool" with a left angle and paddle hard for river left. WARNING: there is almost always a strainer at the bottom of the river right eddy. Also, this is a very deep spot in the river and the channel is full of trees and debris left over from ice storms and other bad weather. You cannot see them because they are below the surface. But watch out if you take a swim. Keep your feet up and swim aggressively for river left. "Whirlpool" is rated Class II+ at normal levels. At levels above 4' it becomes a Class III/III+. At these levels a very large hole forms at the bottom of the rapid. Run the sneak down the left to avoid this hazard. I don't recommend playing in this hole. It is shallow and people have been known to get hurt or break their paddles while attempting to play here.

Note: One of the property owners has asked that we not loiter here. She seems to be ok with small quiet groups, but would prefer it if large groups and clinics limit their time at this spot. Please respect her wishes. Thank you.


Blackberry Falls (Class II+, Mile 2.3)

DJ on Blackberry Falls

DJ on Blackberry Falls
Photo of DangerJudy by Ronzo taken 01/15/05

The grand finale of the run is "Blackberry Falls". It looks intimidating to beginners but it is actually just a big ol' slide. It ends in a haystack that tends to stop and flip those who air-brace, rudder, or otherwise don't paddle. You know, beginners. The classic "Blackberry" run is down the center with a slight left angle. Look for the green hump of water just below the top and split it with your boat. Paddle hard and punch through the haystack at the bottom. Eddy left or right - preferably left. The other popular line is the diagonal line from left to right. If you are good enough, and lucky enough, you can catch the wave above the haystack and surf it. "Blackberry Falls" is Class II+, Class III/III+ at levels above 4'.

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