Chattahoochee - 3 - Upper Hooch - GA Route 115 to Duncan Bridge Road

Chattahoochee, Georgia, US


3 - Upper Hooch - GA Route 115 to Duncan Bridge Road (Upper Hooch)

Usual Difficulty II-III (for normal flows)
Length 4 Miles
Avg. Gradient 25 fpm

Third Ledge, Upper Hooch

Third Ledge, Upper Hooch
Photo of Will Reeves and Clint Rienhart by Will Reeves

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-02331000 1.50 - 5.00 ft II-III 00h48m 3.02 ft (running)
Good whitewater level (III)

River Description


The Upper Hooch is a classic beginner canoeing and kayaking stream. Its relatively short, has an easy shuttle, decent scenery and fun rapids. It can be run at just about all levels from ridiculously scrapy to screaming high flood stage, depending on the boaters skills of course. At low flows its a class two stream. Around 3-4 feet on the Leaf Gage its easy Class III. Above that its class 3/4 with some huge holes.

Once upon a time during the winter of '96-97 a group of us ran the Upper Hooch at 13 feet (about 14,500 cfs) on the Cornelia Gage. Lots of moving strainers. Two massive holes in First Island rapid that were of equal size to the top holes in Insignificant on the Gauley. The rock outcrop on the right at second ledge was a giant pourover. Third ledge was washed out. We ran it twice before the Hall and White County rescue squads closed down the river. Probably a good thing--three other groups put on and hiked/swam off. Lots of canoes wrapped around trees that day.

Flow Info: (NOTE - we have begun using the Leaf Gage rather than the Cornelia gage on this page as of 2/15/15 because it better reflects the flow experinced on this reach)

For the Leaf Gage, consider the following advice:

  • <1.5 = Very Low
  • 1.5-2 = Low but runnable
  • 2-3 = Good for a wide variety of paddlers (II-II+), surfing begins to get good.
  • 3-4 = Class III whitewater, good surfing, good flow range
  • >4 = High water, additional skill required (III/IV), not good for beginners. 

Parking Info: The put-in and take-out is Georgia State Park land, and requires either a daily pass ($5) or an annual pass.
Wildwood Outfitters has an outpost at the take-out and will shuttle you and your boat to the put-in for $7. The outpost is usually closed during the winter, late October to early March.

From Atlanta, go north on I-85 16 miles to I-985. Continue 42 miles up I-985. Then take a left at Duncan Bridge Road, GA 384 at the light. The take-out is about 4 miles down Duncan Bridge Rd.

To get to the put-in, continue west on Duncan Bridge Rd, take a right on GA 254, and another right on GA 115. The put-in will be the first stream you come to. Parking is very limited at the put-in.
Whitewater Home Companion Vol. 1, William Nealy
Appalachian Whitewater : The Southern States

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2015-07-03 16:00:32


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
1.0Buck Island ShoalsII+Playspot
1.2Canoe Eating RockII+Hazard Photo
1.5First LedgeII+Hazard Photo
1.6Second LedgeII+Photo
1.8Third LedgeII+Playspot Photo
2.1False HorseshoeII
2.5HorseshoeII+Playspot Photo
3.0Shoals below horseshoeII+
4.1One more for the road.II+

Rapid Descriptions

Buck Island Shoals (Class II+, Mile 1.0)

Multiple routes on both sides of the island. Big holes develop on the right side of the island at high water. At lower flows most people run the narrow channel on the left of the island.

Canoe Eating Rock (Class II+, Mile 1.2)

Lunch Beach Wave

Lunch Beach Wave
Photo by Brad Roberts taken 04/15/02 @ 2000 cfs

Rock on river right above the Lunch Beach. Good surf wave with a huge eddy on the bottom right.

First Ledge (Class II+, Mile 1.5)

First Ledge- Chattohoochee

First Ledge- Chattohoochee
Photo of Doug Fletcher by Chris Gorman taken Early December 02 @ ~2000 cfs

At flows above 2500 cfs or over about 4 feet a dangerous low head dam type hole forms on the right side of this rapid. This one is easy to see coming due to the long pool above it and the large rock outcrop on river right. Run left or right at most water levels.

Second Ledge (Class II+, Mile 1.6)

Second Ledge

Second Ledge
Photo of Barbara Reeves by Amanda Loftis taken 05/04/06 @ 1.15

Generally run on river left.

Third Ledge (Class II+, Mile 1.8)

Third Ledge

Third Ledge
Photo of Jimmy Lowe ( by Greg Simpson taken June 04 @ 750

Fun, shallow side surfing hole.

Washboard (Class II+, Mile 1.9)

Another long wide shoal rapid. At higher flows there is great surfing everywhere in this one!

False Horseshoe (Class II, Mile 2.1)

A long riverwide shoal, with a sandy beach at the bottom on river left. Lots of fun small waves and holes thru the shoals.

Horseshoe (Class II+, Mile 2.5)

Horseshoe @ 2000 cfs

Horseshoe @ 2000 cfs
Photo of Brad Roberts taken 03/15/03 @ 2000 cfs

Run left to right. Big pool at the bottom.

Shoals below horseshoe (Class II+, Mile 3.0)

long fun shoal rapids with some good surfing opportunities.

One more for the road. (Class II+, Mile 4.1)

Just downstream of the takeout, below the bridge, is one last ledge. There are a series of holes on the right, and a wave on the left. At low flows there is an island in the middle. Play your brains out, then paddle back up the 100 yards to the take-out.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 30 2018 (195 days ago)
clint501 (155524)
For more recent information about this section of the "Upper Hooch" go to this Facebook page. Here is a quick link to the map........
June 20 2014 (1635 days ago)
ckinsey (156641)
You need flows up above 350+ to even think about running this section. Ran it on 6-7-14 and it was
a chore with flows hovering around 250. Use the gauge reading at Leaf because the gauge downstream
includes the Soque River added flow. Very scrapy on 6-7-14. Ran it a few weeks previous at around
400 and it was fun. The ratings are a bit high, but Hawkeyes below mentions running it at 1800.....
I checked his dates and his run was at flows around 800-900. While it would be a blast at those
flows, trust me, at 1800 this is a tough run for anyone but a very experienced boater. We often run
the section below this in conjunction with this run as we are local and run one of the two sections
two or three weekends per month from late April thru early October.
March 18 2014 (1729 days ago)
David BazemoreDetails
Thanks for the feedback on the ratings of the upper hooch. Since I have not made this run I rely on
feed back from people to properly describe & rate this section. If you ever have an interest in
becoming a stream keeper and correcting out of date info on rivers you paddle please contact me.
March 18 2014 (1729 days ago)
hawkeyes (156244)
Ran on 18 MAR 2014 at like 1800 CFS. Fun little beginner run. I'd say it's easier than the Cartecay
at 2.5' at this level. It's DEFINITELY not a class III run. Buck Shoals is is no way a III+.
Tablesaw and Broken nose on the Ocoee are III+'s. Baby Falls and the upper ledges on Telli are
III-III+. Buck shoals at 1800 is a long class II. Maybe a II plus. I feel like calling Buck Shoals
a III plus and Horseshoe a III scares beginners off of this run, and probably gives people that
have run this the false idea that they can just go up to the Tellico or Ocoee and be fine... Maybe
these rapids were class III like 30 years ago but they aren't anywhere close to the modern standard
of class III. TL;DR: At 1800 CFS nothing on this run is above II+.
December 29 2013 (1808 days ago)
jtebbel (155130)
The river-left channel behind Buck Island (3/4 mile below 115 Bridge) has a new large tree down
blocking the entire channel. We ran this channel in spring 2013 and it was clear then, so this is
new wood. There are eddys above the wood on river left where you can pull out and portage, however,
it appears to be private property. This channel is rarely paddled and won't affect the majority of
boaters running the usual lines.
December 4 2010 (2929 days ago)
RiverSasquatch (152566)
Had an awesome time on this section today @ 740 cfs. It was my first real taste of whitewater
besides the Cartecay. Way more intense than the Carty with a few long sections rapids that were
amazingly fun. Buck Island Shoals was very squirrely and came close to "losing it" a few times
(still can't believe that it is listed as a 3+ on this site... 2(+) is more like it). Canoe Eating
Rock Rapid was the most fun I had ever had on a river (until Horseshoe later). The three drops
seemed inimidating, but I made it down the first 50 yards of the first ledge without a paddle
(almost flipped when I hit a rock entering the top section). Made it over the first ledge and
caught up to my paddle just after the first ledge. The third ledge was a lot easier than expected.
There is definitely a slot to shot for about 30 feet from the left shore that made the drop nice
and easy. Washboard was scrapy, but there was a nice wave train that seemed to last until the beach
on the river left at the bottom. I really thought Horseshoe was the most fun and challenging. Made
it to the bottom and looked back up at it and couldn't believe I made it down in one piece... way
more intimidating than the third ledge. Had an awesome time and can't wait to take the trip up
again when the weather is warmer. It was 38 - 42 degrees today
September 20 2009 (3369 days ago)
gary debacherDetails
The Cornelia gauge is malfunctioning at high levels, reporting 363 cfs when the actual level is
thousands higher. Watch for gauge malfunction at high levels in the future. Can be identified by
wild jumps up and down on the gauge graph.
August 19 2009 (3401 days ago)
Lenny GalleDetails
This river is fun, but it has to be up at above 350cfs and at that level it is still boney. I
personally like 3rd ledge. All in all if you swim keep your feet up. There are tons of strange
rocks like a washboard in the river.
June 16 2008 (3830 days ago)
x (1)
did at 234 cfs(.65) too low don't go unless you like to do alot of handwalking the rapids but still
a few fun spots when your not hand walking the rapids Chris
March 20 2008 (3918 days ago)
Lee BruceDetails
There is a gauge that is online now that is right at the 115 bridge. This is a better gauge to go
by because the Duncan Bridge gauge includes a small river that comes in below Horseshoe. It's
called the Leaf gauge,
I'm not sure of the correlation between the Leaf gauge and the Duncan Bridge gauge. I think the
Leaf gauge is generally a foot higher.
December 30 2007 (3999 days ago)
alex brantleyDetails
actually, the best hole on this run is maybe 50 yards from the put-in, to my knowlage it doesn't
have a name. At flows around 900cfs or so, it is deep enough to loop with a small boat, i could
loop in my jackson star which is 5'8'', you just have to find the sweet spot in it, other than that
its great for cartwheels or whatever, plus its still there at low levels, but only as an ender
hole. It's great for a park and play.
June 16 2003 (5657 days ago)
1000 cfs - not much play. Not to scrappy. None of the waves are formed, and none of the holes (what
holes?) will hold you. 1000 is my personal minimum for this run. The hole just past the takeout
bridge was OK at this level.

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