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) 00h42m 3.05 ft (running)
Good fun level, but not the optimum levels for absolute beginners.

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'.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
April 22 2018 (273 days ago)
Duncan CottrellDetails
April 2018 -- Woody says the bridge is still out so use these directions: Take Highway 52 East and
pass Lower Cartecay Road where we used to turn. Pass Hudson Apple House and turn right on Aaron
Road. Take it until it dead ends. Turn right on Lower Cartecay Rd and go 1 mile. Cartecay River
Experience is on the left.
August 4 2013 (1995 days ago)
surfnate27 (155566)
Dogs have moved!! New owner is a nice guy.
June 18 2013 (2042 days ago)
surfnate27 (155566)
I have been paddling cartecay for the last month straight and the last time we were there the dogs
came out. A first timer rolled and had to get back in his boat. My recommendation would be stay
away from that house with the star on it. Those dogs were literally biting the boat. There was fear
in the eyes of s few boaters.. Stay safe!
May 20 2013 (2071 days ago)
Pandango (154698)
Hello. Is it possible to put in higher on this river? Say Macedonia Road? If so, what is up there?
Anyone ever float that section? Well, I answered my own question this weekend. I put in at
Macedonia and floated to River Hill Rd. It was a nice float. No real rapids, but the first part of
the hour long float was very serene and pretty with no houses.
July 3 2012 (2392 days ago)
DavidPeek (154655)
any thing under 1.7 is to boney for a decked yak let alot of plastic on the rocks above S turn
June 14 2012 (2411 days ago)
Razarr69 (154579)
Just did this river last weekend (6/9/2012) at level of 1.66 and it was a great time. The first
mile was tame, but the second half was great. I took my 9 and 11 yr old sons with me on our Intex
Seahawk II raft and we had a blast. Everyone we passed by on their inner tubes were like... :o wish
we had a boat! :D The rapids on the river are nothing to challenge my raft, but were fun to shoot.
After we did S-Turn, we parked the boat and jumped directly into the rapids and slid through them
multiple times with just our lifejackets. GREAT FUN. When we got to Blackberry Falls, we did the
same. Spend over an hour there going over the falls. Super! There is even a nice rope swing a
little before the falls that you can use. Great river to take your family to. Thanks for this
website! I'll post some pictures of our trip as well.
April 18 2012 (2468 days ago)
deanproxy (154312)
Was paddling there today at 2.6. We were sitting above Blackberry Falls and all of the sudden a lot
of crackling and noise started to happen. A large tree going almost all the way across the river
fell from river left. Make sure you paddle down the right side after Whirlpool. There seemed to be
about a 5-10 foot section that you can paddle around.
September 10 2011 (2689 days ago)
TAGboater (152032)
Ran river 9/10. Lady at takeout harassing boaters and taking pics of people and car tags. Very rude
to everyone. Don't know what it's about but please take care not to make it worse
September 6 2011 (2693 days ago)
classless (153495)
Ran it today at just below 4, and it was awesome. At this level ya need not worry about those dogs
coming after you, they didn't want to swim in that! They just barked from shore. Whirlpool at this
level and beyond is a bit of a scary looking rapid, I know of several experienced paddlers who have
recirculated their for longer than any mortal being would care to. We ran from the put in all the
way down past DNR take out, no issues with strainers. It was a good day! BRING THE RAIN
April 5 2011 (2847 days ago)
RiverSasquatch (152566)
4/5/11 - Many of you who frequent the Cartecay2 know of the house above Sexton (1 mile in) on river
right with the Labrador Retrievers guarding the property. These dogs have always barked and showed
their ass, but yesterday we came pretty close to an attack. Just past that house on the little
shute on the right, the big white dog nearly got ahold of my buddy. I am not sure about the rights
of boaters to defend themselves, but a paddle to the head would have been justified. Just letting
you guys know.
October 30 2010 (3004 days ago)
RiverSasquatch (152566)
Made a run this morning at level 1.49 and it was very scrapy. Rock Garden was a mess. Left alot of
plastic on the rocks throughout most of the run. S-turn was awesome and a little more intimidating
than I remember... mainly because after the first drop you HAD to move left to catch the second
chute. It almost has to be an entry level class III at 1.5. Blackberry was a lot of fun, but had a
rock lip along the top which made lining up with the rooster tail tricky. A fun run but I will not
be making the trek back up to Elijay until the river is at least 1.8 - 2.0.
April 13 2010 (3204 days ago)
LCrawford (151700)
Great run for beginners. We took two people who had never paddled white water before. They did
great running it in creek boats. The run down to clear creek falls is well worth it. Blackberry was
great tried three lines the best was down the center but boofing far right was fun to.
September 20 2009 (3409 days ago)
WoodyJ (151008)
The Cartecay River Experience will continue the "Chili Run" January 1st. 2010. This tradition was
started by Jay and Fuzzy Nuts many years ago. If you would like to participate please contact Jenny
or Myself for more details. We are up for additional suggestions on how to make this event a great
December 3 2008 (3700 days ago)
cliff knightDetails
DO NOT RUN AT LOWER LEVELS! It is no fun at lower levels but at higher water, it turns into a very
fun little river. We ran it this weekend at low levels and I feel like I left most of the bottom of
my boat back at the river. Whirlpool, sturn and blackberry are fun beginner rapids and a decent
play sopt is at the bottom of all of them
March 26 2008 (3952 days ago)
sailawayaussies (148182)
We were talking tonight about how the name of a rapid on the Cartercay has changed names for some
strange reason. I have been running this river since 1976 - in fact my ex-husband's family owned
all the land on both sides of the river at the covered bridge - actually back then there was no
covered bridge. However, after the ex's grandmother died the land was divided among the 11
siblings. Some chose to keep their land other chose to sell to development. Now people are
referring to the river's slide/fall rapid as Blackberry. It was and as far as I know always called
by locals as Stegall Mill Fall. Just curious how it metamorphosed into Blackberry. Blackberry is
the development that came about in the 80's. The developer even took control of the river trying to
banned paddlers from using the river and take-out at the falls. Jay represented the paddlers and
was able to get the Gilmer County Commission to permit paddlers to take off the river below the
covered bridge. Blackberry Development has never done one thing to be honored by the naming of the
rapid. They were allowed to develop too close to the river and when the river rises the
trash/debris from decks, lawn furniture and like have littered this river for years. And, it seems
no on is responsible for cleaning up the homeowners messes. They probably spend more on keeping
paddlers off the river. Unless someone knows otherwise, I suggest paddlers call the rapid Stegall
Mill. Quit giving credit to those who basically ruined a great river. Steve & Alice
September 21 2004 (5234 days ago)
Steve ReachDetails
We ran this section on 9/19/04 right after Hurricane Ivan dumped, at a level between 3.5 and 4 feet
on the gauge. At this level the three named rapids (S-turn, Whirlpool and Blackberry) run together
and become an Ocoee-like maelstrom, with huge haystacks, keeper holes, and very few easy eddies.
Scouting gets difficult. Playing is only practical in the realm of the very experienced and
terminally insane. The top of S-turn develops a foot-wide tubular curler. Whirlpool ramps up to
something approaching a class 4 level of difficulty, with 2 giant haystacks and a nasty bottom
hole. The ledge at Blackberry is underwater and some interesting alternate lines open up on the
left side. The convergence of the right and left channels produces a monster exploding wave, best
hit smack in the middle of the vee.

Ya can't walk out of the river until you are below Blackberry without trespassing on private
property. Stay away when it's this high unless you are sufficiently experienced and confident. It's

Use caution! Have a blast! Keep it safe