Amicalola Creek - Upper

Amicalola Creek, Georgia, US


Upper (Goshen Church Road to Highway 53)

Usual Difficulty II-III (varies with level)
Length 9.75 Miles
Avg. Gradient 20 fpm
Max Gradient 25 fpm

Tee up!

Tee up!
Photo of Tonya Adams by Seth Scott taken 02/20/14 @ low runnable level

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-02390000 1.00 - 3.50 ft I-II(III) 00h34m 1.24 ft (running)

River Description

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 ( 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.

Local Hazards

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.

Multi-use Area

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.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-02-09 23:57:42


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
1.8Put in for six mile/ camp groundN/APutin
4.8The LedgeII+Hazard Photo
5.0New rapids to comeN/A
9.5The Play HoleII+Playspot Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Put in for six mile/ camp ground (Class N/A, Mile 1.8)

Great put in. Stairs lead directly to the river. This is the second put in down.

The Ledge (Class II+, Mile 4.8)

The Ledge

The Ledge
Photo of Gordon Mobley by Jim Osborne taken 5/03 @ 1.0

A five foot river wide ledge. Best line is typically right of center. This is a mandatory scout due to the possible presence of wood. Scout from the left bank.

New rapids to come (Class N/A, Mile 5.0)

in process of updating rapids there are several good ones

The Play Hole (Class II+, Mile 9.5)

Surfs Up

Surfs Up
Photo taken 04/09/14 @ 1.80 ft

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.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
April 2 2015 (1351 days ago)
Atlapat (157265)
Ran with two person Canoe 3/29/15. Level was at .9. About 10 trees have fallen between Six Mile to
Steel Bridge. A small handsaw would take care of a couple trees to create path to go under. Trees
must have fallen in the recent Ice storms. 2-3 trees will require more man power to take care of so
be prepared to go over or have to pull boat out of water to get pass the trees. The level is about
as low that I would run between Six Mile and Steel Bridge. After Steel Bridge to HWY 53 no trees
across the water. Great ride with only fishermen seen at Steel Bridge and Hwy 53 exit. Took 4 hours
to go between Six Mile and HWY 53 with short rest at Steel Bridge.
December 31 2014 (1808 days ago)
jtebbel (155130)
Between the 6 mile/DNR campground put-in and The Ledge, there are two new large trees across the
river that require portage, regardless of level. These are new since July 2013. We portaged both on
river left. They are easily visible before you get to them, so they should not be a surprise.
January 21 2013 (2152 days ago)
Brentduncan29 (154920)
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!
May 24 2012 (2394 days ago)
dfantz (154496)
Put-in/take-out at GA53 under construction. Looks like they are renovating a big retention wall and
repaving the upper parking lot. Can't access with car. Did Steele Bridge to GA53 at 0.83 on GA53
gauge. The gauge didn't seem to be reacting to thunderstorms in area or 45min of heavy rain
received after we got out. Beautiful trip w/ enough water.
May 5 2011 (2779 days ago)
x (1)
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.
March 14 2011 (2831 days ago)
jack orrDetails
I ran this run on 3-12-11 @ 1.25'. Here's a video I made
January 12 2009 (3622 days ago)
x (1)
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.
October 11 2008 (3715 days ago)
x (1)
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!"
June 10 2008 (3838 days ago)
Carla MinerDetails
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!
April 16 2007 (4259 days ago)
Jamie HigginsDetails
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.
May 15 2006 (4595 days ago)
Rick BellowsDetails
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.
March 16 2006 (4655 days ago)
Rick BellowsDetails
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
November 8 2005 (4782 days ago)
Rick BellowsDetails
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.
October 13 2005 (4809 days ago)
New usgs gauge. Hopefully added to the database soon on aw gauge page. keep your eyes out for it.
July 5 2005 (4908 days ago)
Dan CentofantiDetails
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

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
August 4 2003 (5609 days ago)
bobby mcnealDetails
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

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