This photo needs editing.
Difficulty II-III(IV) at this flow (III-IV+ normally)
Length 9.75 Miles
Flow Range 1.00 - 3.50 FT
Flow Rate as of: 42 minutes ago 0.88 [FT]
Reach Info Last Updated 01/02/2016 12:17 am

River Description

   A fun fact, the entire Amicalola river resides in Dawson County. This is a pristine section of river with amazing whitewater at the right water levels. Because most of this strech lies in a wildlife managment area there are no houses along the river. The scenery is top notch with massive rock walls, mini gorges, and beautiful forest. All the major rapids on this run take place in the first 3.75 miles and are interspaced by an assortment of class II-III ledges, slots, and smaller wave trains. Levels 1.1-1.5 is a good beginner level to this section with everything running but nothing too serious. From levels 1.5-1.9 things become much more clean regarding the lines. New slots open up and the EOTW becomes more pushy. From 1.9-2.5 this run takes on a whole new attitude, the rapids start running together and it becomes much more continuous with large waves and sticky holes. At these levels the middle ledge in EOTW starts to be a bit retintive so it is a good idea to scout/portage on the left. From 2.5 to 3.0 it is full on, not recomended unless having bigwater skill,and you are used to kayaking in floods.Knowing the river won't really matter at this point because everything starts to change. Have a good crew and be ready for battle.(When levels are really high the last chance to get out before EOTW is sandbar/ beach looking area on left about 100 yards above beginning of rapids.) Above 3 feet the whole river seems to start feeding into a terminal death ledge hole formed by the middle ledge in EOTW. Also logs tend to stack up in EOTW so anytime there has been a flood you should rescout this rapid. The run is capped off by about six miles of flat water that moves good at flood level, not so good at lower levels(1.6 and down). The gradient of the white water section averages 52 FPM.

Note that the most up-to-date Topo map of the area is 30 years old. A large majority of the roads and trails in the area, including both takout roads, do not appear on the maps.

Here is a video I have created to try and have a virtual walk threw of all the rapids. This is at a high level but a lot of the lines are the same.

Kelly Bridge Take-out Directions.

Go west on GA53 for one mile and make a left on Cowart Rd at the Quickie Mart. At the stop sign, make a left on Kelly Bridge Road. Go 3.4 miles to the take-out. Shuttle round trip is about 15 miles.

Alternate take-out directions.

An alternate take-out point exists at river mile 3.5.

Go to the top of the hill where the little "raft guide" place is--with the totem pole out front. Go south on Sweetwater-Church/Juno Rd. It's a left on GA53 west, a right on GA53 east.

Take this road for about 0.7 of a mile and it will turn into a dirt road.

Keep going on the dirt road for another 0.9 and it will turn back into blacktop at a GA Forestry Service sign.

Go 1 mile on the blacktop, ignore all the turn offs- just go straight.

The Black top will dead end, dirrectly before it, bare onto the gravel road veering to the left.

Go about 1/4 mile and take the first right. Go 100 yards and park at the gate. DO NOT BLOCK THE GATE!

If you want to walk down to the take out-- Go down the road about a 300yds and bare left over the hill on an old jeep trail. The road goes down and bares around to the right a little,about 0.8 miles. Take a left at the "T" in the road and the take out is about 50yards-can't miss it. All in all this is about a mile hike up hill to your car.... Is flat water that bad??

Directions on the river.

About one mile after Roostertail the river will bare around to the left a little. You'll see a little flat area on river left that has a makeshift campsite. The banks get pretty high after this and about 50 yards further down you'll see a cut in both banks where there use to be an old ford. There's a set of very old stone bridge supports, one on each side of the river. Take out on river left.

The walk out is 1 mile and while not steep, it is up hill. Be prepared to sweat a little. If you own a set of backpack straps, you might want to throw them in your dry bag.

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.

Amicalola and Etowah Access Opened (GA)

Access Reopened

Good news! In January 2002, the landowner at the Etowah take-out called American Whitewater to announce their reopening of the Etowah take-out. The owner is asking for $3 per person on the honor system, envelopes are provided at the site. There is a gate to the parking area that is unlocked during the day. The owner asks that visitors close the gate whenever entering or leaving the site.

While it is disappointing that the State failed to renew their lease on the site, we are excited by the owner's continued interest in providing public access to the Etowah!


Rapid Descriptions

Edge of the World

Class - IV Mile - 0.4

Edge of the World is the largest and most well known rapid on the Lower Amicalola. During summer months, you will typically find the locals camped out on the ledges of the rapid and swimming the lines, reminiscent of Bull Sluice. At levels of 1.1- 1.3 this rapid is a solid III+, dropping approximately 40 feet in the span of 75 yards. At this level, the moves are mostly slots and make a good training rapid for beginners working on their creeking moves. Its a good park and huck also paddling down from bridge and running laps. At levels of 1.4-1.8 +/-, the water becomes much pushier and the level bumps up to a solid IV. At levels over 1.8, the classic lines begin to wash out and new hydraulics develop. If you are accustomed to running this rapid at the classic level of 1.1-1.5, this is a definite re-scout over 1.8. You will recognize the start of this rapid by the well-defined horizon line and large amount of wood present at the top center and right of the rapid. If water level is high get out on sandy beach area 300 yards or so before rapids on left. There is a boardwalk and you can walk down and scout.The rapid consists of two widely spaced ledges followed by a six foot near vertical drop and then a series of slides. Classic line is to run 20ft +/- off the left bank. Hit the first ledge with some left angle to catch the eddy or some right angle to continue down stream. Follow the moving water towards the second ledge and either run it straight or hit the boof, at levels over 1.2, (this ledge is the one that becomes the problem at higher levels). Be aware of the boat gouging line to the left of the boof. After this, run hard to the right bank and hit the vertical slot. Move left and run the final slide . At levels over 1.4 or so, it is possible to run the slide to the left of the vertical slot. Additionally, the river left line below the second ledge is runnable but not advisable due to a large amount of wood and an undercut rock on the left bank. If you catch the level right, a good surf wave develops below the second ledge and before the vertical slot.

Off the Wall

Class - III Mile - 1

This is the next big rapid after EOTW. You will see a waterfall on your right, then a island. Stay to the right and then run at  the wall, it is defined by a pretty large sloping rock face on the river right bank. The line is straightforward. Run hard to the right bank and then move to the left of the downstream rock


Class - II+ Mile - 1.2

Just some class 2 boogie water, keep a eye out for the beautiful rock cliffs. Class 3 boogie at  flows 2.0 feet and up.

Thy Holiness

Class - II+ Mile - 1.3

You will come around the corner after some boogie water then you will see a slight horizen line. Just T up and paddle hard.  I once had a friend swim out of this hole and it took about 20 minutes and 2 miles of river to get all his stuff. When he finally got done with that smim I think I heard him praying.

Split Decision

Class - III Mile - 1.9

Split decision is made up of three chutes divided by large boulders in the streambed. The left chute is a tight slide into a pillow that immediately banks right. There are often trees in this line so scouting should take place before you run it. The center line runs down onto a boulder where if you hit it correctly can give you a nice boof. The right line is a slide that banks left at the end. If you are skilled and willing to work a little you can run all three lines without too much diffuculty. At higher levels, this rapid becomes a definite scout due to the possibility of pinned wood in the chutes. Neither bank is great to scout from, but the right bank does give a better view of the line.

Surf and Turf

Class - II Mile - 2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

More boogie with some great play spots with beautiful rock gorges.

Rooster Tail

Class - IV Mile - 2.3

Rooster Tail is nothing more then a huge slide with good lines on the right and left sides when levels are 1.0-1.7+. The rapid gets its IV rating from the presence of a potential keeper hydraulic that develops at higher water levels 2.0+ The rapid is easily scouted from the left bank and the hole is easily avoidable. Right below here on the right there is a great surf wave and a little futher down on the left there is a sandy beach.

Lets Make A Deal

Class - III Mile - 3

This is the last significant rapid of the run. You have door 1, door 2, and door 3.... Well really you can run combinations of each line. The rapid consits of a upper part which has three lines and a lower part which has three lines. Mix and match all you want for the same price. The right line is more creeky and channalized and the left line is a little more beefy. At flows over 2.2 its hard to distinguish any lines.

More Boogie

Class - II Mile - 3.5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

After lets make a deal, there is another mile or so of class two boogie before the gradient is taken out back and shot.

Paddle Out

Class - N/A Mile - 4

To cap off this run you will need to paddle yourself out on about 6 miles of flat water. At levels above 1.7 the run out is moving pretty fast, below this it is not running very fast. At any level it is very beautiful .


default user thumbnail
jack orr
6 years ago

Ran on 8-12 at 1.2'. No portages. Few trees down after the whitewater section but all fairly easily avoidable. There was only one river wide and there was a path clear on far RR. You can see it in this video:

default user thumbnail
8 years ago

3Mlhq0 xjvcjcmlyezp, [url=]bqjgcgskuafl[/url], [link=]kndnjdjooruj[/link],

default user thumbnail
Vance Barnes
9 years ago

Someone has cut the big log at Edge into 4-5' lengths. 3 pieces still in various places in the upper drop.

default user thumbnail
David Prentice
10 years ago

The log jam just above the etowah is gone

default user thumbnail
10 years ago

Gauge at river reads 3 inches lower than online gauge below 1.5

default user thumbnail
Dan Cash
10 years ago

Ben Whittle and I just ran from 53 down on October 8, and there was no wood in any of the channels we ran @ 0.98. There is a lot of wood in the flats which is high over head from the floods that will probably come down soon. One log, well I guess it's really more of a tree, spanned the whole river and was 12-15 feet above our heads! At Split Rock we can the center and right channels and Ben ran the left as well. He said there's plenty of room. Though he also says that it's not Southern Creekin' unless you're duckin' Rodo.

default user thumbnail
Flint Ward
10 years ago

The tree is still down at the edge of the world, however we broke a few of the dead limbs off so it is somewhat passable now if you duck as you go under (at low level, at higher level still not passable; we ran it at .5ft this past weekend). There are several trees still down as the run continues downstream. With higher water levels the trees that are down could be a hazzard.

default user thumbnail
Brian Babcock
13 years ago

The pullout at the confluence with the Etowah river is open for now. It keeps you from having to go all the way to Kelly Bridge takeout. The road down can be a little rough so you need to take your time. The road is part of the Dawson Forest road system (Mill Road).

default user thumbnail
David Buchanan
13 years ago

Beware of the hole in Rooster Tail at levels above 1.4, maybe lower(the old hwy. 53 bridge guage). The tail washes out and leaves a tongue that leads to a nasty hole. They aren't kidding when they say it's a keeper. I ran it a few years back at around 1.8, after summer rains; it grabbed me hard and wouldn't let go. Finally, I bailed, swam for my life and had to hike out with nothing but my shorts. My boat(Pirouette S) was still upside down, bouncing around, in the hole when I looked back from the mountain top. The next day(level around 1.4) we went back to look for the boat and there it was, still hard stuck in the hole, just like it was left the day before. It took considerable effort and back-woods ingenuity to get it out. The wierd thing is that it doesn't even look like much of a hole, but it's just the right size to grab a boat and it's also really rocky underwater. If the river is high enough to make the hole sticky, you probably won't be able to get anywhere close to it on foot, for rescue or boat retrieval. Avoid it!

default user thumbnail
Rick Bellows
14 years ago

Sometime in the past week, the log that blocked the channel between the two large rocks on the Etowah between the Amicalola confluence and the take-out at Kelly Bridge was removed, either by man or nature. The straight center chute is now passable, but stay to the left side of it at lower water levels.

default user thumbnail
Tom Welander
14 years ago

Three observations where the gaps between the two gauges were 0.32 or 0.33:

Jan 2 12:00 pm
old staff gauge 0.72
new USGS gauge 1.04

Jan 2 6:30 pm
old staff gauge 1.06
new USGS gauge 1.39

March 21 6:45 pm
old staff gauge 0.96
new USGS gauge 1.29

default user thumbnail
Rick Bellows
14 years ago

Saturday, June 24, will be Day 1 of Paddle Georgia 2006, being run this year on the Etowah River. That means about 300 boats, most of them operated by paddlers wil minimal experience, will be on the Etowah downriver of Highway 9, including the 2 miles or so from the confluence of Amicalola Creek and the Etowah to the take-out at Kelly Bridge Road. Paddlers should either use the alternate take-out described above or be prepared for the crowd.

default user thumbnail
Rick Bellows
14 years ago

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

default user thumbnail
Dan Centofanti
15 years ago

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 770-380-1488.

Gage Descriptions

Gauge is located under the GA53 bridge on river left.
The absolute minimum is .8 on the bridge and .08 on the online gauge although it would be a long abusive day to your boat.
A realistic minimum is 1.1 on the bridge and1.1 from the online gauge.

Online Gauge Information
 I have found that the online gauge and the bridge gauge correlate quite well.



Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports




article main photo

Claude Terry, paddler, outfitter, and conservationist, dies

Charlie Walbridge

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!


Jim Osborne


Seth Scott


Thomas O'Keefe


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1190256 01/22/06 Jim Osborne n/a
1203103 02/21/14 Seth Scott
1202237 05/21/13 Thomas O'Keefe
1203099 02/21/14 Seth Scott
1203100 02/21/14 Seth Scott
1203101 02/21/14 Seth Scott
1203102 02/21/14 Seth Scott
1203108 02/21/14 Seth Scott
1203109 02/21/14 Seth Scott
1203249 04/09/14 Seth Scott
1205784 01/02/16 Seth Scott
1203743 10/17/14 Seth Scott