Savannah, Georgia, US/South Carolina, US
|Usual Difficulty||II(III) (for normal flows)|
|SAVANNAH RIVER AT AUGUSTA, GA|
|usgs-02197000||5000 - unknown cfs||II(III)||00h26m||29200 cfs (running)|
This section of the Savannah offers easy access and lots of areas to explore. It is easy enough that it gets heavy use by recreational kayakers in flat water and touring boats. However, the numerous wide shoals offer plenty of potential for whitewater practice and play spots. The Augusta Canal parrallels most of this section and offers additional flat water boating.
The easiest and most popular put in is just below the Augusta Canal Headgate / Savannah Rapids Pavilion. This county park has a visitor center, picnic areas and plenty of free parking. As you enter the park, turn right to the lowest parking lot. A pedestrian bridge leads across the canal. Fairly wide stairs climb over a low wall then descend to the river.
Previous descriptions suggested putting in at Steven's Creek dam, but as of 2011 there is no public road access to that dam. There is a public launching area 6 miles upstream of Steven's Creek dam on Betty's Branch at German Island. There is also public access 12 miles upstream at the base of Strom Thurmond Dam. The river is flat water above the Augusta Canal Diversion Dam and above Steven's Creek dam. The only whitewater is below the canal diversion dam to Hammond Rapids.
1) There is a developed public boat launching area on river left at the North Augusta Boat Landing. The landing is on Hammonds Ferry Rd. at Riverview Park, North Augusta, SC. There are limited, primitive campsites nearby which require reservations. Call 803.441.4300 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 803.441.4300 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 803.441.4300 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
2) Boaters can also take out by paddling up the Rea's Creek channel towards Lake Olmstead. Take out under the railroad bridge. It looks like you may be able to drive a car to this location. However, it is probably faster to just carry boats to the canal trail and then across a pedestrian bridge to a parking area at Milledge Rd and Lakeshore Loop.
From Edward Leahy"...Put in below the Steven's Creek dam. Following that is about a mile of flat water to the Augusta canal diversion dam. There is some whitewater starting below this dam. The portage is on the Georgia side just below the dam and is accessed via the canal path below the Savannah Rapids pavilion. It is 5 miles to the North Augusta boat ramp. This section is class I-II with one borderline III, Hammond Rapid on the South Carolin side just downstream from the Augusta waterworks (which is on the Ga side. Optimal flow is 8,000- 15,000 CFS. The guage is downstream and the canal usually diverts around 3,000 CFS. After Hammond rapid, there is no more whitewater on the Savannah."
Augusta area kayakers have a 30 year tradition of playing kayak football in the Augusta Canal just upstream of the 13th Street gates. Most Wednesday evenings, boaters in whitewater kayaks, recreational kayaks, sit on tops, surf skiis and canoes, show up to throw a ball around in the water. The rules are basically kayak water polo, but to score, the ball must be thrown and caught across the goal line, just like a football touchdown. The ball can not be carried across the goal line and if it is thrown into the water across the goal line, the defenders get posession.
Historically, the Savannah River was quite rocky upstream of Augusta. River men brought bails of cotton downriver to Augusta in very large but manuverable canoes, called Petersburg Boats. These rapids are now completely hidden by a series of very long reservoirs which generate hydro-electric power for the region.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|-1.3||Steven's Creek Dam||N/A|
|-0.3||Augusta Canal Diversion Dam||N/A|
|0.0||Savannah Rapids Park; put in||N/A|
|7.0||Kayak Football in Augusta Canal||N/A|
There appears to be an easy portage around the river right side of the dam. There is a boat ramp on the upstream side of the dam and a grassy slope a short ways downstream of the dam. The dam itself is for hydro-electric power. Boaters must stay a long ways away from the inlets to the generators
The road to the dam is gated, so there is no public access to the dam via road.
This long dam diverts water into the Augusta Canal. There are a few spots along the dam where some boaters carry over the dam or paddle over without portage. Most boaters will take out on river right about 30 yards upstream of the headgates. They then carry across the headgate to the canal trail and downstream to stairs leading to the river.
This may be the most used put in as it is convenient and avoids dealing with the dams. From the lowest parking lot at the Augusta Locks Park, walk across a bridge over the canal. Once on the canal trail, look for a wide stairway leading down to the river.
Reed Creek is a small side creek that is next to the put in parking area at Savannah Rapids Park. The creek enters the Augusta Canal immediately downstream of the pedestrian bridge.
When rains bring the flows up enough, boaters can launch near the top of the parking area and crash down to the canal. There are several large drops in this very short section.
These shoals form the main rapid of significance on this section. They are in the far left channel by the South Carolina shore and are the furthest downstream of any rapids.
The mouth of Rae's Creek is on river right (Georgia side) about 1/4 mile upstream of the North Georgia Boat Landing. It is the first creek outlet on river right below Hammond Rapid. Paddle up the channel almost one half mile to a railroad bridge and an easy take out. There is also a pretty waterfall with water released from the canal.
There is a parking area at the canal overflow, which can be reached by taking Broad St. to Goodrich St. toward the pumping station. The takeout trailhead is immediately before Goodrich St. crosses the RR tracks. The parking area is immediately after the RR tracks.
You could also carry boats along the railroad to the canal trail, then across a pedestrian bridge to a parking area at the end of Milledge Road. The walking distance is about 340 yards This take out reduces the shuttle distance considerably.
On Wednesday evenings, boaters gather to play "kayak football" in the Augusta Canal just upstream of the 13th street gates.
There is plenty of parking. The Augusta Canal Trail starts here. Sidewalks and a grass slope provide seating for spectators and easy access to the canal for boaters.