Broad - US Route 281 to US Route 172

Broad, Georgia, US


US Route 281 to US Route 172

Usual Difficulty I-II(III) (for normal flows)
Length 5.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 9 fpm

3 falls at low water

3 falls at low water
Photo of Eddy Hicks

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-02191300 2.00 - 22.00 ft I-II(III) 01h07m 6.71 ft (running)

River Description

The gauge is located in Carlton GA, 18 miles south of Hwy 281. It will take the water 6 to 12 hours to hit the gauge.
2 foot is the minimum for this run. 3-4 foot is optimal for beginners. Levels above 6 foot the river takes on a totally different character and is better suited for more advanced paddlers.
Around 7 or 8 feet the outpost start shutting down trips, and the surfing starts to get nice!
At levels above 15 feet or so, large surf waves and holes abound, some have good eddies, many are caught on the fly. Roostertail Rapid at the end is an incredible sight and fairly intimidating with large standing waves and holes. At these levels, come with a bombproof roll or you will be looking for your boat in Augusta...(Alex Harvey, 2003)
The river has been run upwards of 20 feet or 17,000 cfs.

There are two outfitters available on this run. One is located at the put-in and the other is located at the take-out.

The Broad River Outpost is located at the put-in. They have a large parking area, and charge $5 for parking and shuttle. According to the BRO website, there are 7 rapids in this stretch. At flood stage, Roostertail Rapid makes a huge 10 foot tall surfing wave.

A note from the BRO Owners:

"I own and operate the Broad River Outpost on Hwy. On our gage at the put-in, we tried to 'mimic' the USGS gage' at Carlton. It's similar at low levels but gets progressively lower at the high water levels.
In the years past we had a painted gage on the bridge itself. Like our new gage, the Bridge Gage has a proportionally lower reading than the gage at the 72 bridge . . . wider channel, steep gradient, etc ???? We should do a mathematical comparison / curve . . . maybe one day."

The following is an approx comparison of the gage heights.
-2 foot on the bridge is about 2 foot on the usgs and our new gage at the put-in.
2.5 feet on the bridge is 64" on our new gage which is approx 6'. Our new gage stops at 6 foot.
12 foot on the bridge is about 21 on the usgs.
16 feet on the 281 bridge was approx 27 at the USGS site - the highest I've seen.
There are many old paddlers who've run the Broad River at the high water levels - it turns into a wonderful 'big water' class 3-4 run. We thought an update on the gage system would be helpful. We do get calls from confused older boaters . . . but then it could be our age.
Michael Moody

For more info: Broad River Outpost.

The other outfitter for this section of river is The Sandbar. They are located about 1 mile past the bridge on river left.  Driving directions if you're coming from Athens on Hwy 172 go over the bridge for the Broad and about 1/2 mile on the right is a dirt road King Hall Mill road.  Go about 1 mile look for their sign on the right. Their shuttle service costs $5 and puts you in right above the first ledge. It also cuts out a mile and a half of flatwater.

If you are into creeking, and the Broad is too high for mere mortals, a 2 mile run that opens up is Mill Shoal Creek which is a class 3 run where the owner of the Sandbar, Gerald Carey, owns all of the land on river right and will arrange shuttle. Or if you do your own shuttle, the owner does not mind as long as you notify them. They will give you directions to the put-in and take-out.

For more information call (706) 245-4163 or visit the website for the Sandbar.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2014-12-25 03:02:45


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
1.5The Sandbar put-inPutin Access
1.7First LedgeIIPlayspot Photo
3.3Lunch Stop RockIIPhoto
4.33 FallsII+Waterfall Photo
4.4Skull Shoal Creek
5.0Roostertail RapidII+Playspot
5.5Hwy 172 bridgeIAccess Playspot
6.5Broad River Outpost takeoutTakeout Access
6.8 Moores' ledgeII+Takeout Playspot

Rapid Descriptions

The Sandbar put-in
This is the put-in for The Sandbar outfitters ,it cuts out all the flatwater at the beginning of this run and puts you at the top of the first ledge.

First Ledge (Class II, Mile 1.7)

1st ledge

1st ledge
Photo by Eddy Hicks taken 04/01/07 @ 2.80

Large shoal with a small island in the middle. Last checked there were the remains of a coleman canoe wrapped on a rock at the bottom left.At low water run left side of island.4ft and above there are lines everywhere with a nice wave train at the end.

Lunch Stop Rock (Class II, Mile 3.3)

Lunch Island Rock

Lunch Island Rock
Photo by Eddy Hicks taken 04/01/07 @ 2.80

A left to right move.

3 Falls (Class II+, Mile 4.3)

Side view of 3 Falls

Side view of 3 Falls
Photo by Eddy Hicks taken 04/01/07 @ 2.80

A five foot tall vertical ledge is on the right side of the island. There are 3 lines you can take.Far right has a piton rock so hug far right bank as much as you can.Center line opens up around 4 feet, make sure you have speed because the lip is very shallow.At levels over 6 feet a keeper hole developes on the center line.The left line is a fun slide . On the left side of the island are some class 2 shoals. There is an easy to avoid undercut in this rapid.

Skull Shoal Creek
Skull Shoal comes in below the waterfall on the right.

Roostertail Rapid (Class II+, Mile 5.0)
Roostertail is a riverwide broken ledge shoal. Its best run on the right,punch the wave and watch out for the pillowing rock. You will be able to see the Hwy 172 bridge below.

Hwy 172 bridge (Class I, Mile 5.5)
There is another ledge under the bridge. At some levels there is surfing on the left.Avoid the rock island with the tree there is rebar here from an old bridge.

Broad River Outpost takeout
Look for the steps on river right, a little past the island.

Moores' ledge (Class II+, Mile 6.8)
Right at the Sandbar take out is a nice long sloping ledge. At low levels run river right then take-out on the left at the Sandbar outfitters. At higher levels lines open up everywhere.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
April 20 2017 (601 days ago)
abuttler (159006)
Ran this river Easter weekend 4/15/2017 and it was beautiful . As long as we ran it left to right
and stayed out of the middle the water was sufficient. Water height was 2.56ft and it was not cold
at all. The turtles were everywhere and the birds and flowers painted the banks. I love this river.
If the water level was at 3ft some of the rapids might be closer to a 3 but at 2.5 ft they were a
February 6 2013 (2135 days ago)
canoeguides (155158)
Use caution, a large logjam strainer has appeared since last high water event, just downstream of
Horseshoe Rapid, the first significant drop, located far river left. The logjam spans the river
left ledge downstream of the first drop, which has been referred to by some as First Ledge, and
obstructs passage through the ledge drop in that series of rapids, which is usually run to the left
of a large rock in the middle of the river. Passage is bony to the right of the large rock.
March 28 2010 (3181 days ago)
paddleordie (151624)
Wow what a great day on the river. Hwy 281 - Hwy 172. River level on Carlton gauge was 5.4 which is
almost optimum as nothing washed out but no bones. I think 6 ft is the best level until you get up
to 10ft + Beautiful weather water clarity excellent and not another sole seen the entire day. What
more could ya ask for. Accolades to the guys @ BRO for the shuttle and waiting for late players @
the takeout.
September 21 2009 (3369 days ago)
x (1)
This is NOT a beginner/novice run at 6 feet! Which is what it's showing today.
August 20 2006 (4496 days ago)
x (1)
12.5 feet the wave forms at river center at roostertail
March 7 2006 (4663 days ago)
Eddy HicksDetails
I would recomend using one of the outfitters shuttle service or park at the hwy-172 bridge.I left
my Jeep at the old takeout today and it got broken into, my window got smashed and all my cd's
stolen.The police said that they have been having problems there lately.
November 4 2004 (5151 days ago)
Billy WrightDetails
Hey everyone this is where I learned to first paddle whitewater of any kind. I have ran it so boney
I wanted to cuss all day, but then again I have ran it at levels between 4 and 8ft and the Broad
takes on a different character. Levels above 8ft. to 12ft get ready for some almost river wide
holes, and at these levels the big wave at rooster tail will be a definite hoot, but this only
happens after close hurricanes or days and days of continuos rains. Call micheal at the B.R.Outpost
and ask how the river is running on those particular weather events.
September 27 2004 (5188 days ago)
Will GosneyDetails
for some awesome high water pictures of this run
October 6 2003 (5546 days ago)
On the original page, Alex discribes the water level to be too boney
to do below 3.0' on the USGS gage above Carlton. Perhaps too low for
'gonzo' paddlers, but for beginners the level at around 3' is guite
nice. Generally it is clear ( as to get low it has to 'not' rain for
awhile ) and it's nice and technical. Plenty of small surfing waves
and holes to play in as well. For us, '"Too" low is closer to 2'
rather than 3'. Mabe a comprimise would be in order...... We can
easily run it at 2' but for sure it's BONEY.

on the "note from the BRO Owners, you omitted the hwy that we are
located on ... It is Ga State Hwy 281 aka Wildcat Bridge Road.

On the Rapid Descripitions:

Alex has omitted the second rapid. We call it "lunch stop rock". It's
a switchback from center to left. class II. IT's real 'joy' is it's a
great place to practice combat rolls as there's a strong current coming
out of the shoal through a deep channel with a great eddy ( behind
lunch stop rock ) to recover and do it again. It's also half-way down
the run.

On Roostertail Rapid - you can 'see' the State Hwy 172 ( not 192) after
you go past the rapid. There's some great surfing on the approach run
as well.

One major note:::::::

The water fall ( third shoals ) center route is undercut and become a
'real' keeper and is very dangerous above 5 or 6 foot on the Carlton
Gage. To further this caution is a small ledged below the shoals which
tends to recirculate the major part of the water back upstream to the
waterfall with the undercut. I've seen logs recirculate and dissappear
back up under the falls.
September 13 2003 (5569 days ago)
dark sideDetails
This has some play spots and is rather flat than the more mountain areas but it still better than
going to work. The water fall at the end should have more writeup cuz its the best part. I try to
send more pics to the riverkeeper. The waterfall is at the island. You can get out and scout. Run
river right at the island and there are several routes at the falls. There is a slide on left side
and a drop in middle. Drop has a slight hole in my opinion. If you run the drop get some speed
before the drop cuz it can be shallow up to the drop and hard to get some strokes in.
July 7 2003 (5637 days ago)

Broad river
Hwy 218 to hwy 192
A buttload of flatwater, followed by a small ledge rapid. Last seen there was an old coleman canoe
wrapped around a rock in the middle of the first ledge.

Then a butt load more flatwater, follwed by the rapid with the 6 foot waterfall on the right of the
island, and some good surfing on the left. Then a buttload more water followed by Roostertail
rapid. Roostertail is right above the takeout bridge. Its about a 10 foot tall sloping ledge, best
run on the right Maybe class 2 plus at normal flows.

Then there are two small ledges between roostertail and the takeout.

Broad at carlton was reading 1750 cfs., or about 5.5 feet. Water was bank to bank, but low. The
play sucked. Another two feet of water and some good waves and holes would start growing.

If I were to do this run again, I would wait for floodstage, and run skull shoal creek in to just
above roostertail. Most of the good whitewater is located at the take-out bridge. As for the rest
of the run, 6miles of flatwater with three rapids just wasn
July 3 2003 (5641 days ago)
The latest rumor is the awesome surf wave forms around 8 feet on the gauge.
June 23 2003 (5650 days ago)
Anyone know what level that famous wave at roostertail forms at??

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