Columbus Georgia has created a fun whitewater park that offers something for many skill levels. You can run the entire 2-mile course or, if you wish, simply park and play at the Wave Shaper island or CutBait Rapid.
Park and Play trips, attempt to visit (if skill level permits) when releases are at 3 or 4 units (surfing and hole work are possible @ 2 Units). You can surf The Good Wave or play in Work Out Hole above Wave Shaper Rapid.
River Running : Below 3 Units, river running with complete trips are usually the preferred activity. Also great opportunity for eddy work at Tie Snake Rapid at 1 or 2 units.
Please be aware levels go up and down daily and often become big water in couple of hours. Please be sure you are aware of the range for the day you are paddling and understand what conditions are created at those levels.
DIRECTIONS TO THE PUT-IN
From the takeout, drive up 11th Street to 2nd Avenue and turn left. Drive approximately 1.9 miles to 35th Street and turn left. Drive one block to 1st Street and turn left. On the right is the Georgia Power sign. Turn on the blacktop road immediately after the Georgia Power sign. Follow this road a few hundred yards to the parking area. There are only 8 parking spots, so plan shuttle accordingly.
Please do not leave anything in your vehicle at the put-in. Advised that you leave all items in the vehicles remaining at the takeout parking garage for safekeeping.
This is a rather remote spot and break-ins do happen.
Update 2017-11-25 While parked at the put-in on a Saturday morning, someone broke the window on my truck and stole my wallet, which was fairly well hidden, and my girlfriend's expensive North Face parka. (The did not stealy a laptop or radar detectors.)
The takeout parking garage address is 1028 Front Ave., Columbus, GA 31901
The cost to use this parking garage is $2 and is the safest area to park. On the weekends and after 5pm during week, parking is free in the garage. Parking spots around the parking garage are time limited during week - so plan accordingly.
Please be considerate and do not use the reserved parking spaces - as of Oct 2015 they will ticket ($30) parking in designated spots.
Outfitters and Shuttle Service:
OUTSIDE WORLD COLUMBUS - 1025 Broadway, Columbus GA 706-322-4200
KayakColumbus.com (706) 566-8821 Great people for a shuttle ride!
WhiteWater Express shuttle information & store. (706) 321-4720 1000 Bay Ave Columbus, GA 31901
Two blocks east from Wave Shaper Island is Broadway and multiple restuarants are available by foot from Waveshaper Island.
A great write up about some of the play features in Columbus by some of the Jackson Team! See the YouTube video by Team Jackson
Dam Release info is released daily.
Considerations for Water Level Interpretations
There is a wall of rock a couple hundred feet after the rapid that requires a quick right line folllowed by a left line. At lower release levels this is an easy section. At higher levels the water has boils and moves much faster. This picture was taken during 1 unit of flow.
A small feature that has one line that drops in a hole. The hole can be strong at certain levels. Run the left side to avoid the hole if you feel the need.
A pourover hole on near Georgia riverbank - the hole is in at approx 9000cfs. A good spot for loops.
Since the Winter of late 2015/early 2016, Tie Snake has changed.
There is now a boulder that poses a pin/piton potential on the old boof line. It was brought there from really high waters (talking 60,000 cfs for a period of time a little over a year ago). The hole that used to be at the bottom no longer exists as the same high waters blew it out.
At 4,000-5,000 cfs, it's more like a wave train.
At lower flows is when it is technical and somewhat creeky. That is when the easiest line now is to punch the wave at the top and stay far right after wards. There are plenty of eddy hopping options too. Biggest issue is the shallow boulder that sits above the wave/hole in the middle of the rapid. If you are upside down on it, it has been known to split foreheads and break paddles.
At 9000 or better there is an amazing playspot river right, but must be caught on the fly, no eddie access. A quick recovery is essential for eddie recovery. A little shallow on surfers right - be mindful of aerial tricks.
A great spot to play at various levels at two to three units. A quick recovery is needed to keep from washing down into Wave Shaper Rapid. This hole is immediately above the Wave Shaper Rapid.
At low flows this section is shallow but runnable. Rolls can lead to injury during low flow.
This picture was taken at 9000 cfs. At this level it is a fast moving feature with lots of action below the rapid. Current is very strong under the surface. You are led directly to The Good Wave below this rapid.
Directly downstream of Good Wave. A nice wave to work on surfing. At 2 units the shelf rock that forms rapid is close to surface so keep that boat upright. This wave tends to wash out after an hour or so of 3 or 4 unit release as the pool fills in.
This feature exists at every flow level. As levels rise it becomes a tremendous wave. At flows above 8000 this becomes a class 3 wave. If the pool behind the wave is high and the flow is at least 8k there is marginal eddy service. At 13K there is reliable eddy service.
Rehab is the name given to the swim one makes to the steps downstream during higher flows. Attainment upstream during big releases is incredibly challenging. The walk back to the island gives you time to reflect on why you missed your roll.
The river is great I have been down there 3 times this month. I would recommend to just go to waveshaper island and play at waveshaper and good wave. If you want to do this go to the end of 12th street and use the parking garage. the garage is free on the weekend
GPB article today about new and exciting kayaking below Phoenix dam due to low water opening up coweta falls region. (see link)
if anyone has info locally please post thinking about a road trip.
Eagle/Phenix Dam is runnable and has been run. I'd post the video on here but I don't want to encourage anyone else to do it. I ran it when there was just enough water going over to get a clean move off it. The danger is that there are only a few safe landing zones where there are not rocks at the bottom and it's impossible to judge where they are from the top. I had someone on the island below to line me up correctly. We measured it at 22ft. The play spot on river right is good at optimum levels, but very rarely do they run a good level consistently. With the normal release you have to be there to catch the water rising when there is a short interval when the hole is good, but then quickly washes out. At a good level, it's a nice spot where you can spin,cartwheel,blunt, and loop. ( See loop video above). You can predict when the release will start by looking at the usgs gage at 280. The release times generally run in patterns which are apparent in the 7 day graphs. There is a smaller shallow hole, as pictured above under "cartwheel hole" which is pretty fun in a short boat. The big hole in the middle line, known as the cut bait hole, at the normal release is very trashy and should be avoided.
Van Atkins firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Monday, October 06, 2003 12:00 PM
Subject: RE: [Paddlers4Christ] Chattahoochee at Columbus
Looks like you have gotten interested in something I have been wanting to do
ever since a couple Columbus, GA paddlers put me onto that spot. I was
leading them down Potato Creek when they told me about it and they said they
often play it after work in the evenings when they release. They said the
flow does not usually come up to a good playable level until after 5 or 6
PM, but then again that info was based upon the drought years we have been
having before this year; this year I am sure the release is a different
story with more water being released more often. The gauge to look at to
check and see if it is running is at
&agency_cd=USGS which is located at US280 which is just south of this park
and play spot. I have been down there a couple times to check it out and
possible put-in and take-outs and to look at the dams they are talking about
removing. There is an awesome river walk they are developing on the
Columbus side that is going to go several miles all the way from well below
the last rapid/the play spots clean up to the dam at "Bibb City". That
river walk they are developing looks like it is going to be a real family
friendly environment for family walks or bike riding. You could bring both
your boat and mountain bike down to this one. The parking and put-ins for
the park and play spots are right now on the Phenix City, AL side to the
north of the Dillingham Street Bridge and south of 13th Street. To bad the
river walk and the park-and-play put-ins are not on the same side of the
river. The rapid there is called Rock Shoals and the dam on the upstream
side at the top of the shoals is I believe called the Eagle Phenix Dam. I
ended up finding three different places to park and then carry the boat to
the base of Rock Shoals. The next dam just a little further upstream is
like approximately a 12 foot high dam and then there is the City Mills Dam
further upstream. Then another couple miles or so further upstream is
approximately a 35-40 foot high dam that they generate electricity at around
the "Bibb City" area of north Columbus. It would really surprise me if they
take that dam out at "Bibb City" but I imagine there is some really good
whitewater behind it. Further yet upstream above US 80 is a substantial dam
called Oliver Dam. Probably zero chance that one is coming out, but we can
always dream. :-) When I have seen the play spots at the base of Rock
Shoals I think the flow was around 10,000 CFS. The Eagle Phenix Dam is at
the top of the rapid. You can paddle up to the bedrock at the base of the
shoals and carry your boat up the portions of the bedrock that is out of the
water and either run a very creekish type of run on the far river right, a
high volume flow run down the middle with a huge hole at the bottom, or a
high volume run down the far river left that ends in some good size wave
train waves at the end. Looked like several of those waves in the wave
train were very playable. I would like to find out from the locals what
that center hole is like before I pop into it or at least paddle out there
and get right to it and study it for a while before I jump into it. Since
the Eagle Phenix Dam is your basic low head pour-over type of dam, the
danger here is the water could rise on you very quickly when they start
releasing water from the dam at "Bibb City" so be careful if you decide to
hike up the shoals itself and have an idea when they tend to increase the
flow amounts. From the times I have checked the internet gauge, I have seen
it go from 1000 to 10,000 CFS very quickly. If it looks low and you do not
know when they will be increasing the flow, then the safe thing to do is do
not climb up on the shoals. At 10,000 CFS there are definitely play spots
to be found; my guess is at 1000 CFS there is nothing there worth the drive
to get there. Let me know if anyone else has any other info. Thanks,
Mark Hicks <><
Good looking playspot!! Are the dams runable? Whats the word on dam removal??
The water looked pretty clean, I'm guessing west point lake traps the nasty stuff drifting down from atlanta.
The telephone release schedule has been discontinued as of 9/2015 - see above for Dam Release Link. This river is more technical at 1 to 2 units and becomes big water from 3 to 4 units and beyond. Above 2 Units the features above Tie Snake including Tie Snake begin to washout. Levels vary daily depending on power requirements by Georgia Power and discharges from West Point Lake. Usually Georgia Power release information is accurate though with 3 and 4 unit releases the timing of the releases can vary. While near the river there are audible sirens and flashing lights to warn of imminent "water rising, procede to shore" - which confirms the release. Expect about a delay of 45 minutes for the water to fill entire reach during a scheduled release - this includes the park and play spots at end of run (Good Wave, Great Wave, Big Nasty). With a such a large variation in flows over the course of a few hours, be mindful of areas being inundated with releases.
DIRECTIONS TO THE PUT-IN: From the takeout, drive up 11th Street to 2nd Street and turn left. Drive approximately 1.9 miles to 35th Street and turn left.
Drive one block to 1st Street and turn left. On the right is the Georgia Power sign. Turn on the blacktop road immediately after the Georgia Power sign. Follow this road a few hundred yards to the parking area. There are only 8 parking spots, so plan shuttle accordingly.
Do not leave anything in your vehicle at the putin. It is advised that you leave all items in the vehicles remaining at the takeout parking garage for safekeeping. This is a rather remote spot and break-ins do happen.TAKEOUT PARKING: The takeout parking garage address is 1028 Front Ave., Columbus, GA 31901
The cost to use this parking garage is very low and this is the safest area to park. On the weekends, parking is free in the garage. Please be considerate and do not use the reserved parking spaces. We want to maintain a positive relationship with the locals.
Chattahoochee @8 - Metro Columbus/Phenix City
Mason Hargrove learning to Fly
Tie Snake with no water
Tie Snake @ low flow
Paddle Monkeys With EJ
Work Out Hole
Wave Shaper Rapid
Cut bait hole
Group photo on island
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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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