The five mile long Ellicott Rock reach, also known as Section 0, starts with a Class V drop at Bull Pen Bridge that defines the end of the Chattooga Cliffs reach and the beginning of the Ellicott Rock reach. You can put in above or below this rapid, the second hardest on the run. The two or so miles immediately below Bull Pen Bridge to Ellicott Rock are read-and-run, Class IV, with a series of ledge drops and boulder-filled rapids. Approximately 2 miles into the run is Super Corkscrew, the only other Class V rapid on the run. The rapid is a long series of off-set ledge drops with increasingly powerful hydraulics and a shallow, short run out. The rapids below Super Corkscrew extending down to Ellicott Rock are similar to those above Super Corkscrew; the rapids are a combination of Class III-IV ledges and boulder fields. The run requires about 2 hours assuming you move quickly through the last three miles of Class II shoals above Burrell's Ford.
This section does not have the unique scenery found on the Chattooga Cliffs or Rock Gorge reaches in that the views are limited due to the narrowness of the riverbed, however the whitewater is exceptional. It is noteworthy in that it passes through Ellicott Wilderness and has few trails paralleling the river allowing boaters to enjoy the run with little chance of encounters until you reach the Ellicotts Rock trail.
This section (as well as the sections immediately up and downstream) is subject to some draconian limits by the Forest Service.
AW has been working for a decade to bring responsible, nationally consistent river management to the Chattooga that does not include these unique restrictions, and this work continues today. The river was totally off limits to paddlers for 37 years prior to numerous appeals and litigation by AW and our partners.
Learn more about the run from this video and Trip Report from the USFS sanctioned boating study.
Chattooga Cliffs (AKA Section 00)
Rock Gorge (AKA Section 1)
Link to my '93 account of wading Section 0 at extremely low flow. The coverage down to Ellicotts Rock is good, but after that it is spotty because there is a trail right by the river, down to Burrells Ford. Sorry the link is probably run into this text. Just copy the link and go there.
Sign up to join the Sultan River (WA) working group and stay informed on issues related to improving flows through hydropower relicensing.
Report covering the recreation users, use, economic impacts, and economic benefits of the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River.
Letters in opposition of paddling on the Chattooga from Paul Broun, Robin Hayes and J. Gresham Barrett - Congressional Representatives
River Use Report for purposes of reconsidering congestion, conflict, and experience of various visitor types
The gage is at Burrell's Ford bridge. There are two staff gages now that the USGS installed a full gaging station. The one on the upstream piling is the one linked to the internet. A reading on the upstream gage of 1.8 is approximately equal to the arbitrary FS minimum level of 350 cfs. Minimum boatable levels are around 1.5 ft and upper limits are likely around 2.5 ft on the upper gage.
Correlation information is needed to develop better guidelines. If you are visiting Burrell's Ford, please report readings on the upstream staff gage below the bridge (date, time, level) on the SC side using the "Add a Comment" button on the "Comments" tab (for logged-in registered users of this site).
Start at Burrell’s Ford bridge. Return on Burrell’s Ford Road 2.6 miles to Hwy 107, turn left and go north 6.1 miles and turn left on Bull Pen Road (County Road S-1102), follow Bull Pen Road 5.1 miles to Bull Pen Bridge. Burrell’s Ford Road is approximately 10 miles north of the intersection of Hwy 107 and Hwy 28 in Mountain Rest, SC
on Chattooga @Ellicott Rock - Bull Pen Bridge to Burrell's Ford
Chattooga Headwaters Boater Trial
(RM) Boating Ban Sticker
(RM) Burrell's Ford Staff Gage
(RM) Bureell's Ford Staff Gage
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
The recent death of Chris Clark at Python Rapid on North Carolina's Cheoah River is the third at this site in the last six years. In each case, the person who died was an expert paddler and their paddling partners did not see exactly what happened. Let's take a close look at the Cheoah below Bear Creek Falls and develop strategies for future runs. The river here is very fast and continuous. After a fast lead-in (Chaos), the river drops over Bear Creek Falls, a 12' drop. Below, most of the flow pushes toward the river right channel (Python). Ferrying over to the easier river left channel (the West Prong) requires careful boat control. Python itself contains several nasty holes and sieves, with a bad hole blocked by a boulder at the bottom. There is a good route through it, but paddlers need to plan their route carefully. Scouting is a good idea for first timers, although catching eddies and getting out is not going to be easy. Groups need to stay together.. The rapid is tough enough that you can't watch your buddy all the time, but you can be ready to help if needed. Click through for links to the accident reports, photos, and comments from expert Cheoah River paddlers. (Photo above by Boyd Ruppelt)
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!
The Forest Service released their decision yesterday to formalize roughly 1.5 miles of existing undesignated trails and build less than 1000 feet of new trails to improve access to the Upper Chattooga River for all visitors. This step is well within their normal range of management actions and begins the process of bringing the trail system in the river corridor up to modern standards.
Last week the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the case over the Forest Service’s 2012 decision to implement restrictions on paddling the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River. Conservation-oriented paddlers, Georgia Forest Watch, and the Rust Family had asked the court to overturn various portions of a lower court decision that favored the Forest Service. These requests were denied, and the lower court ruling was upheld by the Fourth Circuit.
The Forest Service is seeking comments on their Environmental Assessment and proposal to upgrade and designate the trails and access areas that paddlers and others use to access the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River. Comments are due by midnight, November 7, 2014. Your comments can help encourage high quality and sustainable hiking and paddling opportunities, and help clarify that no permit should be requied to paddle the Chattooga River upstream of Green Creek.
Yesterday a hearing was held in US District Court in South Carolina regarding the Forest Service's illegal bans and severe limits on paddling 21 miles of the Wild and Scenic upper Chattooga River. The Judge ruled in favor of conservation-oriented paddlers and charted a schedule to resolve the case early next year.
The first season of legal paddling on portions of the Wild and Scenic upper Chattooga River since 1976 is nearly upon us. The Forest Service will begin allowing paddling on December 1, 2012, through April 30, 2013, under various restrictions. This article will help you jump through all the hoops and enjoy the river!
A decision made earlier this month by the Washington Office of the US Forest Service officially ends the agency’s consideration of recreational management on the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River. The decision marks the final Agency green light allowing the public to paddle a 15-mile portion of the Upper Chattooga River this winter for the first time in 36 years!
It has been a big week for the management of the Chattooga River. The USFS released plans to allow paddling on a portion of the river beginning as early as this weekend if a laundry list of conditions are met. Conservation-oriented paddlers appealed the new decision that unlawfully limits paddling, and anti-paddling groups may request a stay in the coming days that if granted would prevent paddling. The mismanagement of the Chattooga is also likely to go to trial by year end.
Two federal court decisions issued in recent days favor conservation-oriented paddlers and their efforts to require fair, legal, and protective management of the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River. AW believes that the recent decisions by the court respect the interests of everyone involved. The decisions also represent another step towards restoration of paddlers’ long tradition of floating the Chattooga River.
Yesterday, national and regional conservation-oriented paddling organizations submitted comments on the US Forest Service’s 489-page Environmental Assessment (EA) regarding recreation on the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River. Also joining the comments were three individuals that enjoyed paddling the river prior to the controversial 1976 paddling ban.
The Forest Service recently published a 500-page manifesto aimed at continuing the 35 year old ban on paddling the upper Chattooga. If you care about being able to enjoy rivers flowing through public lands, we ask that you submit a comment regarding the upper Chattooga River, and to call your political representative before the August 30, 2011 deadline.
Earlier today the US Forest Service released a Draft Environmental Assessment that proposes to continue denying the American public the simple right to float in canoes and kayaks down the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River for most or all of the year depending on the section of river. While successful in advancing some of the paddling community’s conservation goals, paddlers remain singled out for inequitable and harsh limits based solely on the Agency’s unfounded belief that user conflicts would occur if boating were allowed.
On December 2, 2010 United States District Judge J. Michelle Childs issued a decision regarding the mis-management of the Wild and Scenic upper Chattooga River. The decision confirms that conservation-oriented paddlers have a ripe and valid case against the US Forest Service, and the case will now proceed to trial.
Yesterday, conservation-oriented paddlers presented their case against the US Forest Service regarding the agency's illegal paddling ban on 21 miles of the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River in a federal district court hearing. The judge heard roughly four hours of arguments and testimony, and stated that she would issue a decision at a later date.
Yesterday the US Forest Service “voluntarily withdrew” their decisions and analysis regarding their illegal ban on paddling the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River. The decisions and analysis were under intense scrutiny in the administrative appeals process, and are currently being challenged in Federal Court. The step is just the most recent in 14 years of avoidance tactics employed by local decision-makers in the agency, and will create massive additional burdens for public participants in the process.
Earlier this week the US Forest Service cancelled their plans to allow a paltry six days of paddling on one small section of the upper Chattooga River (NC/SC/GA) this winter. As it has been for 33 years, the entire Upper Chattooga River now remains banned to all canoeing and kayaking, while all other existing uses have no limits. Conservation-oriented paddlers have challenged the overarching agency decision to ban paddling on the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River in court and in the administrative appeals process over the past two weeks.
After considerable delay, US Forest Service officials announced a final decision on managing recreation uses on the upper Chattooga River and released the Environmental Assessment.
The USFS has announced another 6-month delay in deciding on a new plan for managing recreation on the Wild and Scenic upper ChattoogaRiver. The announcement came in a certified letter to AW, in response to a letter AW sent the Chief of the USFS requesting an update and swift equitable resolution of this protracted issue.
The Sumter National Forest told AW today to expect even more delays in the release of their Environmental Assessment (EA) regarding recreational use in the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River corridor. Now a full year late, and fraught with problems, it is unclear when the EA will be released.
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