Toccoa - Sandy Bottoms to Tilley Bend


Toccoa, Georgia, US

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Sandy Bottoms to Tilley Bend

Usual Difficulty I-II (for normal flows)
Length 7 Miles

Will Gosney on Lower Toccoa


Will Gosney on Lower Toccoa
Photo taken 04/15/04 @ 310cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Toccoa near Dial
tva-td019 300 - 10000 cfs I-II -00h21m 287 cfs (too low)


River Description

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. 


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2011-05-09 19:22:10

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Sandy BottomsIPutin
1.0Training WheelsI
2.0Anything GoesIIPlayspot Photo
5.0One For The RoadII+Takeout Hazard Playspot Photo
5.1Little NantahalaII+Photo
5.5SkippyII
6.2BFHII+Playspot

Rapid Descriptions

Sandy Bottoms (Class I)

Standard putin, offers some upstream ferry and attainment practice.



Training Wheels (Class I, Mile 1.0)

small ledge series with protruding rocks.  good beginner practice for basic play moves.



Anything Goes (Class II, Mile 2.0)

Anything Goes

Anything Goes
Photo of wave/hole on the lower Toccoa by GCA Steve taken 04/15/04 @ 310cfs

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.



One For The Road (Class II+, Mile 5.0)

Party Rock entry line

Party Rock entry line
Photo of Last rapids on the lower Toccoa by GCA Steve taken 04/15/04 @ 310cfs

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.



Little Nantahala (Class II+, Mile 5.1)

Photo#10044

Photo of Jimmy Lowe by Jamie Burch @ 400cfs

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.



Skippy (Class II, Mile 5.5)

low double drop at a hard bend in the river.



BFH (Class II+, Mile 6.2)

'Big F. House'.  A more substantial double drop over a riverwide ledge breaks left in front of an obscenely large house.




User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 2 2012 (1994 days ago)
hillsidehippie (154382)
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/
May 16 2011 (2346 days ago)
Steve ReachDetails
The flatwater paddle and the hike out are no fun at all.
May 6 2011 (2356 days ago)
Steve ReachDetails
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 ...
May 6 2011 (2356 days ago)
Jamie HigginsDetails
To see a you tube video of Toccoa River (from Toccoa Vally Campground to the steel bridge) go to
the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watchv=2n0AJUtJBS4&feature=related
May 27 2008 (3430 days ago)
x (1)
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.
December 30 2007 (3579 days ago)
Robert ButeraDetails
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
December 31 2005 (4308 days ago)
Robert ButeraDetails
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.
May 22 2005 (4531 days ago)
Robert ButeraDetails
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 />


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