The Upper Amicalola is a II/III+ run with scenery second to none. This section starts only a couple miles down stream from the famous Amicalola falls which is the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi. It has often been referred to as a mini version of Section 3. The river has been run at levels as low as 0.4 on the GA53 gauge( would highly suggest against this unless using an ex gf/bfs gear) but a realistic minimum for the entire run is 1.1. At this level, all the rapids are runnable with a minimum amount of plastic loss from your boat but it would be a long day if you were to do the whole section. (At lower levels it is better to put in at the second or third putin.) At levels of 1.2-1.5, the river becomes a very good seasoned beginner/intermediate run with enough technical moves, eddy hopping, and surfing to keep things interesting. In my opinion it puts the Cartacay to shame for a begginer/ learning river( At lower levels**).From 1.6-1.9 the river starts to pad out and speed up with new lines opening up. From 1.9-2.5 the river bumps up to a solid III with a significant increase in the pushiness of the drops and the amount of waves and holes on the river. At 2.5-3.5, the river becomes extremely fast and develops some huge river wide holes and standing waves up to about six feet high and becomes akin to paddling in a flood. Above 3.5 feet you realy need a bomb proof roll because if you flip and swim your gear will be gone. Also the abilitly to read water well, avoid features such as but not limited to keeper hydrolics and trees are needed. At the higher levels this becomes an excellent play boat run just make sure to watch for wood and holes.
At levels above 2.0 feet, this section of the river moves a huge amount of wood ranging from cut firewood to 35 ft. trees. Extreme care should still be taken when boating this section at higher water levels. As of 2-8-18 river is clear of wood from sixmile down to 53 bridge.
There are three put-ins for this section of river.
Put-in 1 Goshen Church Rd/Afton Rd (9.5 river miles total)
From the GA53 Bridge-Go east towards Dawsonville. Take a left at the junction of GA53 and GA183. Go approximately 7.2 miles and make a left on Afton Rd. If you reach the intersection of GA183 and GA136, you have gone too far. Go 1.6 miles and put in at the bridge. The area surrounding this put-in is private land. No problems have been encountered here, but please be respectful. The river between this put-in and put-in 2 contains mostly moving water, several downed trees and a fun class two. A little after 1.5 river miles you will see the last house on river right, you will now be entering Dawson Forest.
Put-in 2 Lindsey Ford/ Six Mile / DNR Campground (7.7 river miles total)
From the GA53 bridge-Go west 1 mile and make a right on Amicalola Church Rd. Follow the road until the pavement runs out and then continue approximately 1.5 miles. The road will begin to climb a hill and bear around to the left. There will be a brown forestry service sign on the right, next to the campground road. This is a good putin and gets you to the first set of rapids a little faster. Now requires you to have a pass to park here. I would suggest parking on the road( not much of a shoulder) or parking in the over flow parking( where I usually park). Or you could always buy a pass (http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Georgia-Outdoor-Recreational-Pass) If you are going this route, pass is under 10 dollars for 3 day pass but you need to do this at home because it requires a printer.
Put-in 3 Steel Bridge Road/ (Devils Elbow) (2.3 river miles total)
From the GA53 bridge-Go west 1 mile and make a right on Amicalola Church Rd. Go approximately 3 miles and make a right on Steel Bridge Rd. Best put-in access is on the right side of the bridge. This is a excellent option if you live close and want to have a short river day. My girlfriend and I will often do this short version because there are three fun rapids with great eddy practice and you can knock it out in about a hour. This putin also requies a pass. To avoid this fee, drive over stealbridge past the user fee area sign and park on right shoulder. Again if you would like to get a GORP pass then you will have to plan ahead a bit and print one out before you leave your house. http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Georgia-Outdoor-Recreational-Pass
During warmer weather, this section of the Amicalola is typically frequented by an armada of sit-on-tops, tubers, and Wal-Mart rafters with no regard to water level. The vast majority of these individuals are ill equipped or prepared to deal with potential problems that may occur at higher water levels.
95%+ of the navigable portion of the Amicalola lies within the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area. This is a multi-recreational 25,000-acre tract of land administered and managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Depending on the time of year, the forest is utilized by a wide variety of individuals including: boaters, fishermen, hunters, hikers, equestrians, and DNR personnel engaging in forestry management (controlled burns and logging operations). Please remember to be respectful of these individuals right to access and use this area.
Great put in. Stairs lead directly to the river. This is the second put in down.
in process of updating rapids there are several good ones
Believe it or not, there is actually park and play in North GA. This hole consists of a II+ wave hole with good eddy access from the river right side. The hole is playable from 0.6-1.5. Above 1.5 the hole moves upstream about 10 ft. and forms more of a wave. If you can get on it, it's a great ride. At this higher level, up to about 3.0, some great standing waves also develop behind this hole. To get to the hole, take the upstream dirt road to the east of the GA53 bridge. Park at the end of the road and walk approximately 100yards up the trail. This is also a great place to sit an watch the local sit-on-top carnage.
Did this section yesterday with 2 other friends. Had a great time the level was at 1.25. We ran into no problems except some bone chilling water!
6-mile Put In - Devil's Elbow (6/29/07)
Two man trip in recreational kayaks. Two men who get recreational in other ways if you catch my drift. No unavoidable hazards. Probably as low as you would want to attempt running. Necessary to find deepest channels. 5.85 miles in 2:08.
I ran this run on 3-12-11 @ 1.25'. Here's a video I made http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHIZzkO8KSk.
We ran this on Aug. 30 of 2009. Most of yall probably know this, but there are three river wide trees from six mile to the 53 take out. The first two are in calm water (we picked up our canoe and slid it over the first one). The second one we were able to climb over the tree and slide our canoe under its far right side. That only works in low water.
The third one is tame enough but could mean trouble at higher water (we ran it at around .53). If there is enough water, you can paddle around the far right side of it.
I didn't submit this as a hazard, because I don't want to scare people away.
All in all, the river is still totally worth running and we had a complete blast. Kevin
A group ran the amicoloa 1/11/09 and the online guage was 1.2'. The river was very doable and rapids were solid class II. The hole on the last rapid before the take out was sticky and flipped a few folks, but still very safe. I enjoy playing with it on this river.
Had a great trip down Saturday 12/13/2008 water level about .9 ft with my wife (she is black). This is a great level with minimal rock scraping and the rapids are still tame. We saw a canoe pinned down in a tree, about a mile above Devils elbow. Looked like from the previous day, all the gear was still inside. A new tree also got deposited on the ledge that is about 75 feet long.
River low (.43). River Fun. Dad + 5 year old + 7 year old = "The best day ever!" We left some paint on some rocks but had a blast. Were unable to run the second to last rapid because water level. Kids final verdict - "Let's do each other again tomorrow!"
Eli Kesting- I live in dawsonville and have been in love with this little river since day 1! a local group of boy scouts or forestry service has built a wooden walkway from the bridge to the edge of the wold no more lugging boats through the woods! and there is also a lot more parking available at the bridge than before an a nice take out right before the bridge. this is a great run and me and my friends really enjoy it hopefully you will too!
On April 15, 2007, A group of GCA members paddled the Upper Amicola. The gauge at the hwy 53 bridge showed the creek was running at .65. The river was scrapey, but runnable. Also, there were no river-wide, impassable strainers in the creek.
My wife and I paddled the upper section from 6 mile put in, Sept. 14 at 1.0.
There is a new river-wide downed tree between the ledge and Devil's elbow. From there I thought she didn't mind the back door and I got greedy. It's in a flatwater section but could be a real problem at high levels..........strainer limbs on one end and massive poison ivy vine on the other. I'd take my chances with the strainer..........I'd paddle a class VI with a strainer before I'd get anywhere near poison ivy. River was fairly clear everywhere else. david
Edward Stockman led a GCA trip on 05/14/06 at .45 on river gauge, .8 on online gauge. Reports 4 new river-wide strainers above Devil's Elbow, only 1 of which needed to be portaged at that level. Also reports large strainer 1/2 mile from top is now clear.
The Etowah Scenic River Committee is working to have 6.8 miles of the Etowah River and 14.4 miles of Amicalola Creek, mostly within the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area, included under Georgia
UPDATE: The new bridge carrying Afton Road over Amicalola Creek is done (and I obviously overestimated how long it takes to build a bridge nowadays). If you want to avoid the deadfalls above Afton Road, you can put in under the bridge: access looks to be easier at the southwest of the bridge than at the the northeast end.
New usgs gauge. Hopefully added to the database soon on aw gauge page. keep your eyes out for it.
Etowah Scenic River Proposal
A grassroots organization, the Etowah Scenic River Committee, has been formed to protect 21 miles of the Etowah and Amicalola Rivers in North Georgia. The group is lobbying to have sections of these river designated State Scenic Rivers, in accordance with the Georgia’s State Scenic River Act. The Etowah Scenic River Proposal includes 14.4 miles of the Amicalola River, from Lindsey Ford to the confluence of the Etowah River. The study will also include 6.8 miles of the Etowah River. Much of these streams flow across the City of Atlanta tract of Dawson Forest. The proposal follows the requirements of the Georgia Scenic Rivers Act, which protects the river corridor and does not allow dams or other obstructions to the free flowing nature of the river.
These two streams are located in Dawson County within a one-hour drive of most of Metropolitan Atlanta. The area surrounding these streams is heavily wooded and there are no cabins or decks on the banks for the entire 21 miles! This is indeed rare in our rapidly developing area just outside the urban sprawl of metro Atlanta. The Etowah is home to 76 species of aquatic life making it one of the richest rivers in aquatic diversity in the southeast according to Candace Stoughton, Etowah River Project Director for the Nature Conservancy. The Amicalola is a popular canoe and kayak run, with several sections ranging in difficulty from Class I-II on the Upper Amicalola to Class III-IV on the Lower Amicalola.
In the early 1970s, the City of Atlanta purchased 10,000 acres in Dawson County with an eye to building a second airport. When the property was deemed too hilly for the project, the area was left undisturbed and eventually came under the management of the DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division and the Georgia Forestry Commission. Public access and recreational facilities were improved and a forest stewardship program was established. The has become a lush haven for hikers, campers, canoeists, hunters and fishermen. But, the City of Atlanta still contends that the land is reserved for a future airport. The Etowah Scenic River Committee came together after an article was published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution in January about renewed interest in a second airport and a high speed rail link along Highway 400 to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Due to the rapid development of North Metro Atlanta and the tremendous increase in land value, this 10,000 acre tract is again being eyed for future development projects. Some local real estate brokers have aggressively opposed the Scenic River proposal because they have a large developer interested in the purchasing the tract. Designation of the Etowah and Amicalola as State Scenic Rivers would offer the rivers some protection even if the Dawson Forest is developed.
Leading the Etowah Scenic River Committee is Bill Hess who retired to Dawson County with 30 years experience with the U.S. Forest Service and was responsible for wild and scenic rivers studies in the southeastern states for the Forest Service. The committee has completed the first step of the process, which is local education and support of the proposal. Accomplishments to date include a informational web site, a town hall meeting of over 200 people, and a petition drive that garnered over 1,500 signatures encouraging the county to take action to protect the rivers. The petition was presented to the Dawson County Commissioners at their April 7, 2005 meeting. The commissioners agreed to endorse the proposal but have not sent it to the governor. The committee has also hosted a canoe trip and hike where local commissioners, Representative Amos Amerson, Atlanta City Council member Felicia Moore, Advisor to the governor Terry Demeo-King, as well as media representatives and others were present to discuss and tour the rivers and the proposal.
A major obstacle to the efforts of the committee is the City of Atlanta. As owners of the tract, the entire Atlanta City Council must approve any proposed action. The Georgia Scenic Rivers Act was passed in 1969, but has rarely been used. Designated waterways must be found to have outstanding scenic and recreational qualities. There are only four rivers that have made the list – The Conasauga and Jacks Rivers in the Cohutta Wilderness in northwest Georgia, a portion of Ebenezer Creek near Savannah and the Chattooga River in northeast Georgia. The Chattooga is also a National Wild and Scenic River.
AW is calling on its members for action to help with this proposal. Here is what you can do to help protect our local treasures:
#1) Call, write, and e-mail Governor Sonny Perdue, Dawson County State Legislature Representatives (Chip Pearson, Amos Amerson, and David Ralston), Mayor Shirley Franklin, and all the Atlanta City Council Members, epically the transportation committee. Tell them how much you value these rivers and you support the proposal of making them State Scenic Rivers.
#2) Help us spread the word. Tell family, friends and others about the proposal. We need strong public support to get this passed.
For additional information, contact information, sample letters, and on-line petitions visit www.EtowahScenicRiver.org.
Many AW members are familiar with these wonderful rivers. The AW Amicalola web page is also full of great information. We request that everyone do their part to help get this proposal passed. For additional information or opportunities to volunteer feel free to call Dan Centofanti at 770-380-1488.
i went down this run on sat. 8/2/03, it was great run other than there was a lot of spots that was log jammed other than there was anough trees to build a house in the river. if there is anyone in this area that would be interested in helping cut some trees out let me know. my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
5 years ago
by Patrick Honan
6 years ago
by Jim Tebbel
8 years ago
by Doug Fantz
Gauge is located under the GA53 bridge on river left.
The absolute minimum is 0.8 on the bridge or 1.1 from the online gauge.
A realistic minimum is 0.95 on the bridge or 1.25 from the online gauge.
Online Gauge Information
There is a new online gauge for Amicolola. We are still gathering data for this gauge. Post levels in the comments section below.
Should the online gauge go down, gauge levels can be extrapolated using the following guidelines.
In late winter and spring with good west to east weather patterns, use the formula; (Etowah-Dawsonville gauge) + (Etowah-Canton gauge) X 0.08= Amicalola Guage.
This formula is reasonably accurate up to 1.8 and one to three days of moderate rain. At levels over 1.8 and after heavy prolonged rain, the formula should be used to gauge the minimum river level only. Actual levels could be 0.6-1.1 feet higher.
During late spring and summer when spotty rain patterns develop, the Canton gauge should be disregarded. When the
Etowah-Dawsonville gauge reaches 6.0 or more and there has been rain within the last 24 hours, then the Amicalola should be at 0.85 or more.
This information has been developed using a limited amount of data points. To further develop this formula, and to better correlate the online and bridge gauges at higher water, please report your runs to Amicalola Report
Please include the date, time, gauge reading, and any local rain activity.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Tonya Adams Punching surfers hole
The Play Hole
Alan boofing the Ledge
Ledge before Steel Bridge
Twice the Paddler
Typical Amicalola Creek rapid
cinco de Mayo
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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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