This section is highlighted by the third of mile of Class 2 whitewater below dam and the gorge that the river cuts through on its final descent to the Chattahoochee River. In the not too distant past Big Creek received direct sewer overflow. The water quality has improved greatly, as can be quickly seen from the improved turbidity (down to 2-3 feet), the presence of insects, mollusks, and fish in the river. The creek is narrow above the dam, no more than 25-30 feet, and is subject to river wide strainers. Below the dam Big Creek widens to more than 50 feet.
For a map of this creek check out the National Park Service website
the 2002 updated map.
From Grimes Bridge Big Creek is impounded for nearly half a mile by a low-head dam that requires a mandatory portage. Just below the dam is the mouth of Hog Wallow Creek, entering from the right (mile 0.5). From here whitewater returns with a few Class 1-2 rapids. Soon the creek is crossed by an elevated sewer line that requires a portage. Just below the portage, on the right, is the western trailhead (mile 0.7) for the Oxbo TrailÂparalleling Big Creek from Hog Wallow Creek downstream. There is a parking area, which makes for an alternative put-in. From the parking area the creek stills as it bends to the left. In little more than a quarter mile from the Oxbo parking area the creek is crossed by another elevated sewer line (mile 1.2)Âalso requiring a portage. From here it is another quarter mile, as the creek bends to the right, to the still waters above the dam (mile 1.5)
Given the two impoundments and the necessity of making three portages, this section is better enjoyed on foot along the trails that parallel the Creek, either CNRA trail on river left from Grimes Bridge to Hog Hollow Creek, and below Hog Hollow on the Oxbo Trail.
From the dam Big Creek enters the ÂVickery Creek GorgeÂ with bluffs towering over the creek on both sides. To the right are the remains of the old Roswell Manufacturing Company, with the larger Roswell Mill (a textile warehouse further up the bluff). From the base of the dam the creek begins a quick descent, with a third of a mile of continuous Class 2 whitewater. Throughout this section are numerous eddies and surfing waves. Punctuating the ledges are three drops of note; the two highest are at the end of this sectionÂone below the newly constructed Covered Bridge and the third immediately below the last sewer line crossing. Here is one of the best surfing waves on the river just underneath the sewer pipe. The only hazard to note is in the pool just below the dam, the rocks on river left are undercut and the current is strong.
The river turns sharply to the left for its descent to the Chattahoochee. For little more than a third of a mile this section of Class 1-2 whitewater works through a gorge-like setting, with cliffs first on river right, just below the Allenbrook House and then with cliffs to on river left. Soon the descent ends and the river slows for another third of a mile. The recommended take-out is at the Vickery Creek Unit of the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area, on river right above passing underneath Riverside Drive (mile 2.6). If you decide to continue downstream to the Chattahoochee, there is another low sewer line that requires portage, just below the bridge.
Recommended put-in for this section: Vickery Creek Park (City of Roswell) off of Sloan Drive. From the small parking area near the cemetery, walk down the steps to the mill and then turn on the main trail, parallel to the river, to the left. There are two scrambles down to the pool below the dam.
This stretch of water is greatly affected by storm runoff, so I don't know that I'd really want to try it except immediately after some rainfall. When we ran it, the creek was around 4 ft and 400 cfs, and looked very impressive compared to its normal, tranquil self. Park at the old mill and carry your boat upstream towards the dam. Pick a spot and put in and you will hit the fun stuff almost immediately. We were surprised by how fast we were moving and it is easy to get "behind" the boat if you don't stay on top of things. The water will be very muddy and turbulent, but it seems to be mostly silt and not sewer; my friend swallowed some water but didn't get sick. Since it is post-storm runoff, there were also large branches and small logs floating around us. Once you get a little below the covered bridge, most of the excitement is over and all too soon pulling out on the left at the national park parking area just before Riverside Drive. At this level, we didn't have any problem going under the sewer pipes, but it doesn't hurt to walk downstream (path on the left side of the creek) and check. We did this one afternoon after work and could have run the river a couple more times before dark; we were in an out in less than an hour. One nice thing is that you are in the middle of a major metro area, but you are surrounded by the terrain which makes it seem more remote. Lots of fun for some afternoon giggles and the novelty factor.
i just boated this creek on sep. 20, 2009, right when the storm was in atlanta. only because sope creek was to to high. you could hardly get under the bridge of sope creek. 3 cops were talking about arresting me. i simply said there are no signs saying i cant do these. well they let me go. this creek is short but so much fun when its in flowed stage. i had my creek boat, you can park at the Roswell mill and its a park and play creek because the run with rapids is short. when it flouds there are two places to surf. 1) right before the bridge but i would look at it first. 2) after the bridge about 100 yards. this one is deep enough to throw loops.
Is the Vickery Creek Dam Runnable? I saw the picture labled "Vickery Falls" and was wondering if that was it.
We ran this last weekend from the park just below Grimes Bridge down to the Hootch. The flow was at 480 and made for a very fun SHORT run. Great for a quick afternoon run, (we only live about 20 min's from the area). Next time we will put in at the old mill just above the covered bridge. This will eliminate 2 of the portages and still let us enjoy the best of the rapids.
Re: Vickery Creek/Big Creek - Georgia by Gorman Oct 04 2002, 0:03 GMT New
Date: Oct 04 2002, 18:10 GMT
I hiked and paddled up from the Riverside Dr park to the base of the dam and paddle down from there. Good class II-III drops for about 150 yrds at medium water levels then flat water. I've looked at it from Roswell Mill at really high water and it was big and moving fast. There are a couple overhead pipes that I'd worry about at this level. A lot of work for not a lot of whitewater...I'd say only worth if you live very close by. I haven't been on it upstream of the old mill dam along Oxbo Rd...I noticed driving along it the other day there is a low head dam with maybe some class II below it.
One very important thing to note...THE WATER QUALITY IS NASTY!! There were signs in it saying no wading and warning of the high fecal coliform counts. I'd say this makes the Chattahoochee look pristine. It's the reason I only like to paddle the Hooche upstream from Big Creek.
4 or 5 pipes cross the stream and make for an interesting limbo or if the river is high then a portage. There is also a new parking lot being made below the first mandatory portage on oxbo road and would probably be a better putin
Hey will, on the park service map they call the dam the "Roswell Dam"
There is a new USGS gauge on Big Creek at the mouth of Hog Wallow Creek.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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Running the falls right above the covered bridge
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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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