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:
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
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.
Rock on river right above the Lunch Beach. Good surf wave with a huge eddy on the bottom right.
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.
Generally run on river left.
Fun, shallow side surfing hole. At flows around 3 feet the center of the hole can hold swimmers for a dangerously long time. Easy to skirt the center on either side.
Another long wide shoal rapid. At higher flows there is great surfing everywhere in this one!
A long riverwide shoal, with a sandy beach at the bottom on river left. Lots of fun small waves and holes thru the shoals.
Run left to right. Big pool at the bottom.
long fun shoal rapids with some good surfing opportunities.
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.
Ran it recently at 1.9 / 280 cfs on the Leaf gauge. I would not want to run it any lower. I was getting hung up on rocks all over the place. Hard to find clean lines thru anything.
Ran from 255 to Duncan Bridge 5-30-2020 in a tandem canoe with Ted Harrigan, at 2.5 level. The way the water channels at this level, made maneuvering difficult for a tandem canoe and created a lot of force in the channels. A little more water would have made it easier and safer, for a tandem canoe. Said rock did eat our canoe.
For more recent information about this section of the "Upper Hooch" go to this Facebook page.
At 3 feet on the gauge, I have seen the hole at 3rd ledge recirculate a swimmer 10+ times.
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.
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. David. Strive2@ymail.com
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+.
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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
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.
Going on friday 29 of august after huricane fay came through 2,851 cfs fun run do this after a rain . would of been fun if not halfway throu 3 men were gettin gay with each other don't mind lifestyle just don't think apropriate that i was left out. otherwise suggest you be careful if you are intermediate.
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
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, http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?cb_00065=on&cb_00045=on&format=gif_default&period=7&site_no=02331000
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.
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.
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.
6 years ago
by Jim Tebbel
10 years ago
by gary debacher
The most accurate gage is the Leaf Gage, which is linked to this page. (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:
The Cornelia Gage is located near the take-out bridge. The Soquee River comes in above the take-out and can affect the readings of the online gauge.The first reading below is cfs, then the on-line Cornelia gauge above.
200 cfs / <.7 / 1.6 - It's a hike - Don't go. Some would add a few tenths before going. Sehlinger & Otey actually say .8 is minimum per the 2nd reading
480 cfs / 1.1 / 2.0 - Low but still fun - You have to search for surf spots.
980 cfs / 1.7 / 2.5 - Good level for most. Surfing begins to get good.
1500 cfs / 2.3 / 3.0 - Lots of fun, but more challenging - This can be tricky for those with less skill/experience and used to lower levels.
2800 cfs / 3.5 / 4.0+ Carnage abounds (for beginners) - I've seen some serious rescues at this level, but it's still a class 3-4 run. This level only occurs after a hard sustained rain.
There used to be a USGS gauge about 100 feet upstream of the put-in on river left, but it was blown out in a flood a few years back and was not replaced. This was the gauge that most of the existing guidebooks referred to.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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Side Surf False Horseshoe
at Buck Shoals
put in at Hwy 115
Zippy makes it down Third Ledge
Third Ledge at 740 cfs
Zippy pulling out of the surfing wave below Canoe Eating Rock
Canoe Eating Rock rapid
Greg Simpson on the hooch
Greg Simpson on upper hooch
Horseshoe @ 2000 cfs
Lunch Beach Wave
Seal Launch at the Hooch
First ledge squirt
Horse Shoe rapid
First Ledge- Chattohoochee
Third Ledge, Upper Hooch
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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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