Difficulty III-IV+(V)
Length 5.5 Miles
Flow Range 225 - 1500 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 21 minutes ago 166 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 03/24/2020 7:33 pm

River Description

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. 

  1. Paddling is allowed between December 1 and April 30, on days when flows have hit 350 cfs or higher.
  2. An on-site permit must be filled out: Bull Pen Bridge or Burrell's Ford (GA side) both have permit stations. 
  3. Strainer removal is prohibited. Please leave wood as you find it, even if it adds a portage. For more information about woody debris in rivers go to Large Woody Debris and Stream Ecology

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. 

Emergency Locations

Bull Pen Bridge N35°00.938' W83°07.589'
Super Corkscrew N35°00.784' W83°06.872'
Ellicott Rock Trailhead N35°00.050' W83°06.515'
Burrell’s Ford Bridge N34°58.401' W83°06.933'

Reach Profile

Related Reaches

Chattooga Cliffs (AKA Section 00)

Rock Gorge (AKA Section 1)

Rapid Descriptions

Bull Pen Rapid

Class - 5.0 Mile - 0
Put in just upstream of the bridge to add the second hardest rapid of the day on your second stroke. This rapid is riddled with potholes and a proper boof is essential. A number of boaters have ended their runs at the bottom of this one.

Entrance Ledges

Class - III Mile - 0.4
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Two closely spaced 5-6 ft ledges with high water hole potential

Super Corkscrew

Class - 5.1 Mile - 0.8
Multi stage drop consisting of 6 ft ledge into approach, a steep pitch into a large hole that feeds an undercut wall, followed by a steep strong backender hole before another drop and a long shallow slide. Stay upright in this one Low Water

Last Hurrah

Class - III+ Mile - 1.4
Start left and cut right behind boulder, read and run, watch for undercut/hole combo at bottom of rapid

Burrell's Ford Bridge

Class - Mile - 5.4
Rapid Thumbnail Missing


default user thumbnail
gary debacher
5 years ago

http://tinyurl.com/q3k6aqv 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.

Gage Descriptions

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).

Directions Description

Shuttle Directions

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

No Accident Reports



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A Close Look at Cheoah River Fatalities

Charlie Walbridge

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)

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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!

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Forest Service Supports Chattooga Trails (NC/SC/GA)

Kevin Colburn

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.

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Court Finds 2012 Chattooga Decision Legal

Kevin Colburn

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. 

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Comment Opportunity on Upper Chattooga Access

Kevin Colburn

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.  

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Chattooga Court Hearing Marks Progress for Paddlers

Kevin Colburn

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.  

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Upper Chattooga Rules Shared - Paddling to Start Soon!

Kevin Colburn

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!

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Chattooga USFS Consideration Done – River to Partially Open This Winter

Kevin Colburn

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!

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Chattooga River Update - Some Boating Possibly Allowed Soon

Kevin Colburn

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. 

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Court Sides with Paddlers on Several Chattooga Issues

Kevin Colburn

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.

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Conservation-Oriented Paddlers File Comments On Upper Chattooga

Kevin Colburn

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.

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Call for Chattooga River Comments

Kevin Colburn

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. 

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Paddlers Secure Chattooga Conservation Outcomes, But Remain Severely Limited

Kevin Colburn

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. 

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Paddlers Succeed in Chattooga Hearing - Case Moves Ahead!

Kevin Colburn

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. 

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Paddlers Get Their Day In Court on Chattooga

Kevin Colburn

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. 

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USFS Withdraws Chattooga Decisions and Analyses

Kevin Colburn

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.

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USFS Decides No Upper Chattooga Boating This Winter

Kevin Colburn

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.

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A Portion of the Chattooga Headwaters Open To Limited Boating Starting Dec 2009

Mark Singleton

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.

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USFS Announces More Chattooga Delays (Again)

Kevin Colburn

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.

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Surprise: More Chattooga Delays

Kevin Colburn

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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More Chattooga Delays - Another Season Lost

Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater has received news that the US Forest Service has failed to meet yet another deadline in their development of a new recreation management plan on in the upper 21 miles of the Chattooga River corridor (NC/SC/GA).  The USFS now expects to release their analysis of the issue and a proposed action sometime in mid February of 2008.  This release will be followed by a month long comment period, which will then be followed at some point by a decision - at least a year late.   The result of these constant delays is that citizens will be deprived of yet another paddling season on this federally managed river.
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Chattooga Meeting Poses New Challenges

Kevin Colburn

The September 29th Chattooga River (NC/SC/GA) meeting was confusing and frustrating for many participants.  The USFS presented a disorganized list of 9 new or revised alternatives, and a new decision to ban paddling on one stretch of the river in all alternatives without any analysis.  The bright spot of the recent developments is that among the new alternatives is one similar to the alternative proposed by AW and supported in written comments from hundreds of paddlers.   We would like to thank all the paddlers speaking and writing on behalf of responsible river management for the Chattooga. 
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Chattooga Meeting this Saturday, 9/29

Kevin Colburn

The next US Forest Service workshop relating to the management of the Chattooga River will be held Saturday, September 29th.  The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the development of alternatives for the USFS to analyze in the coming month. 
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Chattooga Public Meeting Scheduled for July 27th

Kevin Colburn

The USDA Forest Service will hold a public meeting on July 27th in Highlands, NC to give an update on the Upper Chattooga River visitor use capacity analysis.  Paddlers interested in the management of the Chattooga River are encouraged to attend.  American Whitewater staff will also be in attendance.

Brian and Maria Jacobson


Kevin Colburn


Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1196205 10/13/09 Brian and Maria Jacobson
1196507 11/15/09 Brian and Maria Jacobson
1196240 10/15/09 Brian and Maria Jacobson
1214158 01/12/20 Brian and Maria Jacobson updated stats
1214293 02/10/20 Kevin Colburn updated name
1196249 10/16/09 Brian and Maria Jacobson
1193235 08/07/08 Brian and Maria Jacobson Added second state (NC)
1195014 05/21/09 Matt Muir Added second state (NC)
1196481 11/14/09 Brian and Maria Jacobson
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1201598 10/01/12 Brian and Maria Jacobson n/a
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1201059 02/23/12 Brian and Maria Jacobson "Final Decision
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