Flat Shoal River - 1: Hwy 11 to Flat Shoals Bridge

Flat Shoal River, South Carolina, US


1: Hwy 11 to Flat Shoals Bridge

Usual Difficulty I-III(IV) (for normal flows)
Length 4.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 60 fpm
Max Gradient 200 fpm

The Falls at Flat Shoal River

The Falls at Flat Shoal River
Photo of Chris Kelly by Will Reeves taken 06/30/03 @ 1.71 ft

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-02177000 2.00 - 8.00 ft I-III(IV) 00h58m 2.6 ft (running)
Upper limit for best boatability uncertain. Please help your fellow boaters with a comment or report.

River Description

Flat Shoal starts off with quite a bang. The put in is a submerged old roadbed that forms a nice hydraulic and possible play spot at most flows. There are a few small play holes about twenty meters downstream and then the river goes under an iron bridge and plunges over Flat Shoal Falls. The first drop is a nearly vertical ten-foot ledge. Be careful when running any of the ledges because there are up thrust rocks at the base of most drops. There is no doubt that from this point to the edge of downstream view the river is dropping at an incredible gradient. Next three rapids are a quick succession of nearly vertical slides and ledges. Some of these drops have alternate lines and pining rocks so be careful and scout often. Trees also get stuck in the rapid after floods. The river makes a sharp turn after the falls and appears to calm down. Don't be fooled because another potentially dangerous rapid can creep up after the next island. Flat Shoals then slides over some additional rapids before flattening out for about a mile. The river picks up briefly immediately above the Little River Lane access point on river right. Contrary to the topographic maps there are no bridges between the falls and Flat Shoals Bridge at the takeout. After Little River Lane the river flows over several small ledges before plunging over a big 20 to 30 sliding waterfall. Flat Shoal then picks up gradient again and produces a few more class II rapids before flowing over the sliding drop at the takeout.

In order to clarify the lines the following comments were given in a recent email by Will Reeves

So here are my takes on the steepest section of falls on Flat Shoal - 1.
As a disclaimer I am an open boater and only assume my lines work for kayakers.

The first drop is immediately past the steel bridge. It has some concrete additions that make the drop almost even across the top on the right. I have not scouted the drop at low flow to determine if any rebar remains from the old dam.
At really high flows I would suggest running off the left side of the drop with a left angle in order to catch the big left eddy. (That was the line on Tuesday evening in the flood). Catching the eddy prevents you from being stuck in the speed trap hole, which forms about 10 feet from the base of the drop. If you miss the eddy you will be swept over the remainder of the falls on the left. This is not fatal or anything but could be unpleasant if you get stuck in any of the holes or piton into the rocks.
At normal flows I would suggest taking the main tongue down the left side of the drop with a slight left angle to catch the eddy. The eddy is not essential at the level you would have seen the run yesterday.

The second big drop is extremely chaotic at high flows. On Tuesday afternoon we just looked at that drop and opted not to run it.

At an average flow like the one you saw yesterday the far right side of the second drop is a smooth slide. The left side is also a slide but the rocky ledges might cause problems for some boat designs.

The third drop has several lines, but in my view only one is really optimal.
The optimal line is to slide down the right side of the slide. That line is a simple slide.

The far left has a nasty slot followed by a short slide. This is on the left side of the river up against the bank. If you are on line it is fine but you can get pinched by the rocks in the slot. I imagine these could shred a shirt off a kayak. You could also end up on the upstream side of the undercut in the middle of the river if your not careful.

The middle line over the slide looks obvious but the big pillowing hole/wave at the base of the drop is really an undercut rock. I would avoid that line but my friend Kevin Miller ran it yesterday.

The last drop of the falls is easy. Just don't go down the left side aiming left and you are fine.
At high water there is a hole.

I don't know if you continued downstream but the rapid around the corner has a huge but obvious undercut rock. I would suggest you run the left side of the river off the launch pad.

There is also an alternate takeout on Little River Lane, which is a small dirt road off Horseshoe Rd on your way to Flat Shoals Rd. I don't mind paddling all the way to Flat Shoals Rd because there are some additional big sliding waterfalls interspersed on the remainder of the river.

StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2006-10-29 14:06:48

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Hwy 11 holeIIPutin Playspot Photo
0.1Flat Shoal FallsIVAccess Portage Hazard Waterfall Playspot Photo
0.1First LedgeIVAccess Hazard Waterfall Photo
0.2Second LedgeIII+Hazard Waterfall Photo
0.2Third LedgeIIIWaterfall Photo
0.2Last LedgeIIIPhoto
0.7Surprise LedgeIII+Hazard Photo
2.5Little River LaneAccess
3.5Mystery SlideII+Waterfall Photo
4.5Final SlideII+Takeout Waterfall Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Hwy 11 hole (Class II)

Highway 11 Hole

Highway 11 Hole
Photo of Kevin Miller by Will Reeves taken 05/08/03 @ 2.1 ft

The river crosses a roadbed at the put in, which forms a decent play hole at some levels.

Flat Shoal Falls (Class IV, Mile 0.1)

Flat Shoals Falls

Flat Shoals Falls
Photo of ? by Will Reeves taken 02/28/03 @ 3.76

Flat Shoal plunges over four distinct rapids at "The Falls". All of the drops have relatively clean lines, but be wary of trees in the slides. At high water this half mile of river becomes one huge rapid. The class IV rating for the run really reflects the fact that the four rapids or drops of the falls are very close together. There is an access point a the top of first drop. A trail runs down the river left bank to the base of the third drop.

First Ledge (Class IV, Mile 0.1)

Flat Shoal Falls - First Ledge

Flat Shoal Falls - First Ledge
Photo of Will Reeves by Kevin Miller taken 05/08/03 @ 2.1 ft

The first ledge on the river is almost below the iron bridge. I suggest boofing left a high water or running the main tongue at lower flows. Rebar might be present but none has been detected yet. You can put in here at the bridge.

Second Ledge (Class III+, Mile 0.2)

Flat Shoal Falls - Second Ledge

Flat Shoal Falls - Second Ledge
Photo of Will Reeves by Kevin Miller taken 05/08/03 @ 2.1 ft

The second ledge is the largest single drop on the river. The run down the right seems cleaner than the left, but either are probably ok. At high flow a huge hole forms above this drop.

Third Ledge (Class III, Mile 0.2)

Flat Shoal Falls - Third Ledge

Flat Shoal Falls - Third Ledge
Photo of Kevin Miller by Will Reeves taken 05/08/03 @ 2.1 ft

The third ledge is easier unless you take the far left line down the slot (class IV). A slightly undercut rocks guards the middle of the drop.

Last Ledge (Class III, Mile 0.2)

Last Ledge on Flat Shoal

Last Ledge on Flat Shoal
Photo of Will Reeves by Kevin Miller taken 06/30/03 @ 1.71 ft

The last ledge is the easiest. Just don't go down the left into the rocks.

Surprise Ledge (Class III+, Mile 0.7)

Surprise Ledge at low flow

Surprise Ledge at low flow
Photo of Eric Paysen by Will Reeves taken 02/05/04 @ 1.75

After the falls the river appears to calm down but don't be fooled. A big 8 foot ledge with a huge undercut rock in the center of the river is lurking past the first island. The left side lines appeared best a medium to low water.

Little River Lane
Alternate takeout/putin Some easy class I-II rapids lead up to the road access. This takout will cut off most of the flatwater and all but a few drops. This access point is a fire department water pumping point. It is illegal and unadvisable to park in a way that would block a fire engine from reaching the hydrant here.

Mystery Slide (Class II+, Mile 3.5)

Mystery Slide

Mystery Slide
Photo of Will Reeves by Kevin Miller taken 05/08/03 @ 2.1 ft

The river picks up again after passing the Little River Lane access point. A huge horizon line and some streamside buildings mark a large sliding drop. Other than the possible trees in the rapid most lines appear safe.

Final Slide (Class II+, Mile 4.5)

Flat Shoal

Flat Shoal
Photo of Kevin Miller by Will Reeves taken 04/15/03 @ 1.6

This big slide is the final drop in section one of the Flat Shoal River. Take out on the left past this drop and carry up to the road.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
October 14 2009 (3387 days ago)
x (1)
how long does it take to paddle this section Takes about 21/2hrs at 2.68 on gauge. Would not run
any lower than this level...Surprised even at this level it had plenty of water to run for such a
small narrow creek.
August 21 2006 (4537 days ago)
x (1)
Since we have had no water this season, I scoured all the ledges of the Dar Drop for rebar and
metal studs. I got several including three from the top drop, one which has tagged my boat in the
past. Also there are metal beams at the bottom of the pool about were the speed trap hole forms at
high water. No problems unless you are being recirculated in the hole (which is a totally violent
experience.) Two thirds of the way through the pool at the bottom of the entire falls has sheet
metal in it from the pipes that once carried water to the pump house at the pool. For water levels,
generally if the chattooga is @ 3 ft or less I park and only run the Dar Drop, higher than that the
slides down stream start to also get fun. At real high water, @ 6 ft or so on the chattooga big
holes form throughout the rapid, and it is one long fun mess. Scout all ledges for wood at higher
flows. Matt West
February 1 2006 (4738 days ago)
Davis CrainDetails
I Ran this today at 1.95 on the Chattooga gauge. It was way too low in my opinion. I would look for
a lot more water on that gauge. Also after the first mile it is all flat water besides two very
small little rapids. The only way I would do this again is at flood stage.
September 22 2004 (5235 days ago)
Kyle AndersonDetails
The put-in is the bridge on Hwy 11. Just walk down the gated road to the river. The people at the
boat place just past the put-in are very nice but seem tired of paddlers asking where the put-in