This run from 441 bridge to Rickman Airfield Road Bridge is 2 miles in lenght with a very easy shuttle. The creek at the bridge is flat with one rapid in the class 3-4 range for about .2 miles then picks up as it drops about 200 feet in a mile long stretch where all the big drops are. The river then flattens out for .80 miles of class 1-2 wave trains to the takeout. This is a very fun run if you have the skills and desire to run this beautiful, but very poor water quality gorge. The hardest part of this run is getting your boat to the put-in/portage of Clayton Powerhouse rapid. Once you get your boat to this point you really only have to portage one more time if you have the skills to be running this creek. After putting in below Clayton powerhouse the action starts out with the second hardest rapid on the run. It is a slide that drops about 15 feet then makes a right hand turn down a steep 20 foot slide with a bad piton rock in the center and a hole that can be pretty grabby. When running this try to catch the eddy on the left side above the steep 20 foot slide. After leaving this eddy get as far left as possible to avoid the piton. The river then has some good boogy water, but watch out for trees. There were two riverwide trees down, but I was able to get by both without getting out of my boat as of March 7, 2009. When you come to a distinct horizon line it is time to get to the bank, cause 20-20 is the name of this waterfall and the top 10-15 feet is a vertical drop that lands on a rock shelf. Scout on the left side to see the whole waterfall. If you are portaging the whole waterfall carry on the left, but it is very difficult. If you are going to run the bottom half of 20-20 portage the top half on the right and put in below the first ledge then run the far left side and try to boof cause landing is about 6-8 feet so try not to pencil. After that is a nice class 3 rapid slide then comes the final three drops. The first is Double crack run it like 7 foot trying to drive out towards the right. Right below that is Mean Holly Tree run it center. The last rapid is Clayton Scream Machine which is a great rapid. Start left then center. Very fast and fun. This is a fun run if you run all the rapids except Clayton Powerhouse and the Top of 20-20. If you know you will portage everything but the last three rapids then the run will probably not be worth it, becuase all the portages are very difficult becuase the steep rhodo filled banks of the gorge. This is a good creek if you don't mind the bad water quality. Plus it runs more often than most other creeks in the area. I would recomend not getting on this run if it is your first time if the water is much above 2 or 3 inches cause all scouting and portaging is hard. A good minimum to see the rapids and get to know the run is from -4" to about 1-2".
I If anyone else has ran this section and has any other data or information like names of rapids let me know by posting a comment.
The rapids and ratings are from runs between -4 and 0 inches. Please report your runs and levels and what you thought about the rapids and thier ratings by emailing me at email@example.com or post on the comment section.
There is about 4 miles of flatwater before things start to drop again. That is covered in the next section of the creek.
This is about a 5 foot ledge that has a sieve in right of center. Run either far right line next to bank or center. Hole may get bad at higher water. There is a huge nasty 35 foot waterfall about 100 yards down river. Get out before it goes around bend to scout/portage the next rapid.
This is a nasty 35 foot waterfall that used to be the site of a hydroelectic plant for Clayton many years ago. There are many sieves and dangers in this waterfall. If you are running it you don't need me telling you how.
You can skip the the first small ledge and some flatwater and make the portage a little easier if you park at the pulloff in the curve of road before heading down the mountain and you can put in below this waterfall. It is a tough place to portage or putin, but if you can get into the river below the run is very fun below.
This rapid has a sliding entrance that drops about 15 feet, then has a high angle 20 foot slide. The hole at the bottom is bad at low levels, and I am sure it will get worse at higher levels because of rock wall that will back up the hole. There is a piton rock at bottom middle, so when running it try to get as far left as possible.
This rapid is not really that difficult it just always seems to have trees in it so you have to portage.
There are two log jams in a row about 100 feet apart. Two large trees have fallen causing this log jam. They were to big for me to cut out. Luckily the creek is flat here so not a horrible place to have to get out. When I ran this last I was able to sneak over one and under another, just beware of new wood in the creek when running it.
If only the top half of the waterfall had a pool like the bottom half. The first 15 foot of the falls all lands on rock so if you like your back then portage. The rest of the waterfall is runnable. To portage the whole rapid portage left down small pig trail through the rhodo. To run the lower 3/4 of the falls portage either right or left and put below the first 15 feet of the drop and go down the drop into the short pool and paddle to the far left side down to a 15 foot boof into abouta 6 to 8 foot deep pool. There is a cave on the left side.
You can run the bottom 2/3 of the waterfall by portaging on the right and putting in after the first 15 feet or so and run the bottom 25 or so feet of the drop. The landing is only about 6-8 feet so don't pencil, it also has high water potential of a cave on the right.
Nice little Floom before it starts dropping fast again.
This is about a 12 feet drop that has two sieves in it. One on the right and one on the left where most of the water goes. Do a seven foot move here where you try to stay on the high right side of the rock without going into sieve crack on the right.
This one drops about 12 feet. It has bad sieves on the left side, and has a huge Holly tree on the right where a nice boof would be. The line is down the center, but there are still some hazards as there are some small potholes down the center. The hole on this one will probable get bad at high water.
This is a very fun rapid. It drops about 20 feet or so, and is very fast. At low flows it feels like you are going to fall off the side of the rock you are flying down.
Here's a Trip Report from -2" I posted on Boatertalk:
Having Gotten a late start today, I decided that it would be a good day to check out the Upper Section of Stekoa Creek from 441 to Rickman Airfield Road in Clayton, GA. The only beta I have heard until recently was that it was all flatwater with big portages. Recently I noticed that Logan James had been in there and posted some pictures of it at very low water on American Whitewater, and I decided that it'd be worth checking out.
When we put on at 3pm this afternoon, the gage was reading approximately -2". Based on our day, I'd call this a Low level, and I wouldn't personally run it lower. I'd like to see it with a few more inches to pad out some of the shoals and shallow slides between the rapids. Most of the drops channelize well though. I definitely wouldn't recommend going in there with high water unless very familiar with the run, as most of the scouting is at river level and exiting the gorge would be tough with steep Rhodo infested banks. At this level we ran everything except for the Big drop at the beginning, which just looks nasty, and the top drop of 20-20, which lands on rock. We portaged around one Log Jam, which we later found was passable at the far right.
All I can say is that this run is much higher quality than I was expecting! Good drops, easy shuttle. I can't even count the number of times I have driven right by when it was probbably running. Today the Chattooga only spiked from 1.6-1.8, so it doesn't seem that it'd take a lot of rain to get it going. The water quality is bad, but bearable.
Photos from our trip are on the third page of photos for this reach.
I'd really like to get back in there with ~3-6" of water or so on the Gage.
Also, just as a heads up, I think that with the water we had today, most of the major drops are IV+ or easy V. In my Opinion, The AW page ratings currently are a little off due to being based on a lower water level. I'd compare the difficulty to that of Overflow Creek for those that are interested in trying it out.
I painted a paddler's gage on the new Hwy 441 south bound bridge over Stekoa on 7/14/07. To see it, you'll need to park on Rickman Airfield Road, carefully cross 441 to the median between the north and south bound bridges. The gage is on the South bound bridge river right, downstream pilon. Please report your levels and low, medium and high info so we can dial this gage in and develop a correlation. E-mail info to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. -- Thanx -- Rob Maxwell
Be aware that the city of Clayton dumps it's "treated" sewage into Stekoa. It isn't called "Stinkola" for nothing.
For now before more runs are reported. I would start with -3" or -4" to be a bare minimum for a first timer to go down and check it out with no push but the slides still a little scrappy. I am guessing 2 inches to be the low side of optimal with about 6 to 8 inches being on the high side of optimal, but this is just a guess for now. If you get a visual of the gage report the level, time, and date on comment section or email me at email@example.com and we will get this gage dialed in. If chattooga is 2 feet or a little over Upper Stekoa should have enough water to at least float down. I have caught this run when the Chattooga spiked at only like 1.9 so it goes alot more often than runs like overflow. If clayton gets an inch of rain in a 12 hour period or less then this one ussually goes. Logan James
Visual, drive down Rickman Airfield Road to the overlook for the waterfalls and see if you get scared or not.
I painted a paddler's gage on the new Hwy 441 southbound bridge over Stekoa on 7/14/07. To see it, you'll need to park on Rickman Airfield Road, carefully cross 441 to the median between the north and southbound bridges. The gage is on the southbound bridge river right, downstream pilon. Please report your levels and low, medium and high info so we can dial this gage in and develop a correlation. E-mail info to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. -- Thanx -- Rob Maxwell
Permits are not required for this reach.
Put IN-Take 441 South from Clayton, Georgia and turn left onto Rickman Airfield Road. This is the road before the 441 bridges that cross Stekoa Creek. You can put on either at the bridge, or there is a small pulloff bout 1/4 mile down road on the left. Try not to park many cars because most land is private.
Take out- Follow Rickman Airfield Road down from put-in about 1.3 miles to the bridge that crosses the creek at the bottom. Park in pull off on the right side of road above the bridge.
Bottom of 20-20
Clayton Scream Machine
Plunge Rapid on Stekoa Creek
Clayton's Scream Machine
20-20 on the Upper Stekoa
Mean Holly Tree
2nd Drop of 20-20
Tree above 2nd Slide
2nd Major Drop
Top of Clayton Powerplant
Floom rapid on stekoa
bottom half of 20-20
top half of 20-20
log jams upper stekoa creek
Clog on Stekoa
The Plunge Stekoa
Clayton Powerhouse Stekoa Creek
1st ledge upper stekoa
Logan on Clayton Scream Machine
5th Major rapid
Top of 20-20
Logan on The Plunge
2nd Major Rapid
(RM) Stekoa Paddler's Gage
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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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