The Toccoa and the Ocoee are the same river; it is the "Toccoa" from its headwaters on the Blue Ridge in Georgia until it crosses north into Tennessee.
Rob Butera has provided extensive documentation of this run. Logistics can be viewed at http://toccoa.butera.org , and trip reports and journal entries are available at http://toccoajournal.blogspot.com
Over the last few years the river corridor has become increasingly populated. Private property is more of an issue. Review Rob's access points map linked above to plan a first-time trip.
This lower run (also see River Reach 509) is a pushy class I-II with a few II+ drops. It is an excellent choice for novices, cruisers, fishermen and those wishing a more leisurely play river. Look for 350cfs or above on the gauge; below that is boney and less fun. The river comes up very quickly with rain; it can go from a scrapey 300cfs to a very fat 1500cfs in the space of a few hours.
Sandy Bottoms is the official Forest Service access; there are camping sites, a pit toilet and a developed boat launch area. The USFS charges $3 per car for parking. You will find a nice shoals right upstream that lets you get a good warmup and some eddying, ferrying and attainment practice.
Class I-II shoal-and-drop action proceeds to just upstream of Tilley Bend, where a longish uphill portage will put you back out at the corner of Old Dial Road and Shallowford Bridge Road, from where it is a one-mile downhill walk back to Sandy Bottoms. This affords a strange opportunity; the 'shuttle-free river run'. You can actually park in one place, run 6+ miles of river, and then portage back to your car. Satellite photos tell the tale - this reach is actually a big horseshoe bend around a low mountain.
A gauging station that reads in feet is on river right less than a mile from Sandy Bottoms - easily read from your boat.
The first significant play opportunity is 'Training Wheels', just downstream from the gauge, a series of ledges that are ideal for learning basic moves: front surfs, back surfs, side surfs, flat spins.
The second whitewater feature of notice is called 'Anything Goes' since there are so many playable features, easier and harder. This is a good place for beginners to learn basic play moves. Approach is marked by the appearance of an island to the right of center. Pull out river right above the island or eddy behind the island to scout. The main chute runs left of the island. There are two more drops below the first, both similar in configuration. Small play spots are riverwide.
Shallowford Bridge, half a mile below Anything Goes, affords another access point and features a snack bar. Toccoa Valley Campground's rafting take out is just upriver from the bridge on river left.
Another couple of miles downriver, Aska Road is visible from a few hundred yards upstream; you will spot auto traffic. As you approach, move to river left, eddy out in the rockpile, and climb out to scout the next rapids - 'One For The Road' aka 'Party Rock'. Be aware of the trespassing issue mentioned below. You may want to set a couple throw ropes on the boulders below the drops to rescue any swimmers before they wash into the lower shoals, a hundred yards of power eddy hopping through a constriction that is known as 'Little Nantahala' by some paddlers.
MARCH 2008 - THE PARKING LOT AT PARTY ROCK HAS BEEN POSTED AGAINST TRESPASSING BY THE LANDOWNER. There is a new owner who is actively seeking to restore to pristine condition this heavily-impacted area, which in the past has been a madhouse of drunken partyers in summertime, and have served notice on the local outfitters to cease and desist pickups and dropoffs at this point. In other words - the party's over. Several violators have been fined for trespassing by local law enforcement. Please respect landowner rights, avoid potential legal action and DO NOT PARK your car here for takeout. If you must take out at this point, arrange for a bandit pickup by a designated shuttle bunny, preferably at roadside below Little Nantahala. Do not linger and as usual please, no nudity or overt substance abuse.
There are two more named rapids below Aska Road - 'Skippy 'and 'BFH'. Skippy is a short, low double drop starting from far river right and cutting back to the left. BFH is a more serious double drop over a riverwide ledge in front of a very obvious Big FFFffffffrightening House (BFH). The best chute is left of center directly in front of the house.
Continue another mile or 2 after BFH into the tailwaters of Lake Blue Ridge and look for a 90' bend to the left following a long, straight, wide flatwater section. You know you are there when you see a row of houses with boat docks on river right after the bend. Pull out on the right bank at the bend and find the trail up in the woods. Walk uphill approximately 1/3 mile to get back to the junction of the dirt roads. The road back to Sandy Bottoms is the one that is like a continuation of the trail in the same direction.
If you have time it's good idea to scout the trail and takeout before making this run.
To avoid the uphill takeout at Tilly Bend, one can paddle another 15-20 minutes of flatwater and take a "right turn" up Persimmon Creek where it meets with the Toccoa. The dirt road comes nearly down to the river edge. The road is a little hard to find - it is less than 1.5 miles north of the intersection of Dial Rd and Shallowford Bridge Rd. A green box marking in-ground cables exists right where the road is. A 4x4 is recommended but not required.
Standard putin, offers some upstream ferry and attainment practice.
small ledge series with protruding rocks. good beginner practice for basic play moves.
A series of low rocky ledges. Multiple routes; several playable features. Most of the flow funnels into a chute slightly to river left, between 2 boulders. Angle left; there is a rock in the outflow of the chute that is submerged at higher water levels.
A double drop through a rock pile, followed by 100 yards of class II shoals. Park & playable; right next to the takeout parking lot at Aska Road. Swarming with boom-box sunbathing locals when the weather is nice. The first drop has a nice left-breaking curler in it and should be run hard against the right bank. Start from the scouting eddy and ferry across to the double rocks; turn a 180 and set a line where you can touch the right bank with your paddle. Angle left across the curler into the foam, then ferry left immediately past the large boulder to avoid the undercut on river right. Eddy left to take out or to set up for Little Nantahala below.
Constricted passage through large boulders. Excellent eddyhopping practice in class II+ current. Big fun to try and catch as many eddys as you can while ferrying from one side of the river to the other across the main flow.
low double drop at a hard bend in the river.
'Big F. House'. A more substantial double drop over a riverwide ledge breaks left in front of an obscenely large house.
I ran Sandy Bottoms to Shallowford Bridge a few days ago at 1.7 ft. Nice 1 hour stretch. Report can be found here. http://hillsidehippie.com/upper-toccoa-river-trip-report-sandy-bottoms-to-shallowford-bridge/
Extensive documentation of this run provided by Rob Butera can be viewed at http://toccoa.butera.org and http://toccoajournal.blogspot.com. The first link contains an excellent list/map of access points.
Thanks Rob ...
To see a you tube video of Toccoa River (from Toccoa Vally Campground to the steel bridge) go to the following link:
The posted property starts up at the curve in Aska Road and extends down to a drainage pipe down by the rocks. The landowner actually painted an orange line on the rocks designating her property line. Down stream from this line and the drainage pipe there is room to park cars and sit on the rocks. There is about 200 feet of space downstream from the line where it is business as usual. On 5/26/08 I witnessed landowner tell folks sitting on her side of the rocks to move over to the other side of her line. Tubing and kayaking outfitters still use this part of the pull-off to service their clients. I rented a kayak from Jon Ron (about 100 yards upstream on Aska Rd) and he said he leases the lower portion of the pull off and it's cool to park there.
I have started logging the TVA streamflow data for this reach (the gauge at Dial, GA). This is experimental (for example, if the power goes down at my house, the server will power off until I reset it, so some readings may be missing) right now, but provides some sense of historical information. The data is uploaded whenever modified (typically every 2 hours) to a tex tfile located at http://www.butera.org/toccoa/gauge.txt
Self Shuttle! Today I did my first self-shuttle of the Toccoa. It was painless, and makes the river twice as fun, experiencing the rapids below the Aska road takeout. See my other post from today about those rapids.
Park at the intersection of two dirt roads: Shallowford Rd and Old Dlal Rd. This is where you take the right turn towards Sandy Bottom if running the usual shuttle from Aska road.
From this point, you can walk about 0.6 miles downhill along Old Dial Rd. towards Sandy Bottom and put in when you get to river level, just after the USGS gauging station.
The takeout is a spot on the Toccoa known as Tilly Bend. There is a sharp bend in the river - you will suddenly see houses with boat docks ater the bend. Take out before the stream that feeds in on river right. There is an ATV trail above the river, and it is an easy 0.4 mile uphill walk back to the aforementioned intersection. The trail at this point parallels the river -- walk downriver and the trail will turn right and paralllel the aforementioned stream.
It is probably a good idea to take the 10 minute hike from the intersection down to Tilly Bend to know what to look for. There are several trailheads near this intersection (including the Benton McKay) -when facing the right side of the road, take the rightmost one that heads down, initially paralleling Old Dial Rd. If you head along a ridge you've taken the wrong one!
The hike back up to the car was 13 minutes, and the flatwater paddle after the rapids stopped was under 15 minutes. Total trip time from leaving the car to arriving back was 3 hours, including a 20 minute lunch stop and very little river play.
The hike back, while 0.4 miles uphill, is not steep -- easier than hiking out of Woodall on the Chattooga, even if longer.
There is a convenient but oft-overlooked put-in between Swan Bridge and TV Campground. Cross the bridge @ Van Zandt's store (by the old Dial Bridge) when heading from Aska Rd. to Newport Rd (over bridge) to Dial road. Head right (upstream) on Dial with the river on your right. In less than a half mile you will see an empty gravel lot right after a bunch of houses with parking for a few cars and river access. This lot is at the edge of Forest Service land (after you put in, you'll see a "Leaving National Forest sign" on river right). Expect 30-45 minutes of paddling along cow pastures until things get a little more moving by Toccoa Valley Campground.<br />
9 years ago
by Steve Reach
TVA gauge for Toccoa at Dial.
Permits are not required for this reach.
From Atlanta, go north on I-575 to Blue Ridge, GA. Pass the McDonalds on the corner where you would turn left if you were going to the Ocoee. Go another 2 lights (about a mile) and turn right at Kentucky Fried Chicken. That road goes a hundred feet and T-bones onto Old Highway 76. Turn left, go past Ace Hardware, and turn right on Aska Road. Drive for a very long time. At about the 7 or 8 mile mark you will see the river off on your left; that is the Party Rock rapid. Get out if you must and have a look at the rapids, but be aware you are trespassing on private property - do not park or linger. Continue along Aska Road past the Riverside Restaurant, up hill and down dale until you see an iron bridge on the left; that is Shallowford Bridge. Cross the bridge and turn right. Follow Shallowford Road to the junction with Old Dial Road. The trailhead to the left (west) of that intersection is where you will walk out if you are running all the way to Tilly Bend; park and go down and scout the takeout if so. Continue 1 mile to the right on Old Dial Road to get to Sandy Bottoms. You know you are there when you see the outhouse across the road from the parking lot on the right, with a nice canoe carry ramp down to the river.
Party Rock @ 1800cfs
Party Rock first drop
Will on Lower Toccoa
Will Gosney on Lower Toccoa
Party Rock entry line
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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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