Chattahoochee - 6 - Metro Hooch - Powers Ferry to West Pallisades/Paces Mill

Chattahoochee, Georgia, US


6 - Metro Hooch - Powers Ferry to West Pallisades/Paces Mill (Metro Hooch)

Usual Difficulty I-II+(III) (for normal flows)
Length 3.5 Miles

Surfing on the Metro Hooch at low water

Surfing on the Metro Hooch at low water
Photo of Akira Fujino by Will Reeves taken 09/14/12 @ low runnable level

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-02336000 850 - 20000 cfs I-II+(III) 00h28m 5530 cfs (running)

River Description


Gauge Description:

Optimal Levels: 2500 cfs and up.

Optimal Playboating Levels: 5,500 to 7,500 CFS
At the upper end of this range the eddies disappear but the holes get deeper, at the lower end of this range, some of the holes get shallow but the eddies are good.

The cement and wood stairs in the main channel at the put-in are a good gauge. If all the stairs are out of the water the river can be considered low. This usually corresponds to about 900 cfs. 

If you see exposed dirt below the stairs, then the river is too low. 

At 2000 cfs the bottom cement step is underwater. This would be a low, but not scrapy level. Rafts would not be getting hung up on rocks at this level.

3 stairs underwater is about optimal. This is about 3500 cfs. At this level there is some good surfing to be found. 

At 5000 cfs all the rocks in the river are underwater. Lots of good sidesurfing holes. Short boats can get vertical. The only eddies are in the backwash of holes.

If the takeout parking lot is underwater, then consider the river high. This occurs around 12,000 cfs. 

Morgan Falls Dam is the primary feeder for this stretch. Release info for Morgan Falls Dam: 404-329-1455.   When Morgan Falls is releasing the water can get very cold, very quickly.   Don't be suprised if the river becomes blanketed in a thick fog.

Buford Dam at Lake Lanier is 40 or so miles upstream. Normal releases from Buford do not directly affect paddling levels on this section; CONTINUAL releases do.

Buford Dam info number: 770-945-1466 


At the river left put-in you have two options. Closest to the parking lot is a channel with some flatwater slalom gates. A variety of olympic calibre paddlers have practiced at these gates. The drain at the lower end of the channel is under the interstate bridge and sometimes gets temporarily jammed up with wood.   As of summer 2008 this channel is impassable.

On the other side of Powers Island is the main channel of the Hooch. There is usually a mild current here which is good for warmup.

Just below the put-in is the Interstate 285 bridge over the river. On river right there is a very small wave hole under the bridge which is a good place for novices to practice surfing. After this is a long stretch of flatwater.

Next up is a riverwide series of small ledges. At flows over 1500 cfs the best surfing is on river left. Most of the flow goes far right through a class II chute with good eddies on both sides.

A few hundred yards beyond, the second set of ledges is rocky with a fast chute down the middle and a number of good eddies to the sides. Known locally as the "Devil's Racecourse", this is a very good place for novices to practice swiftwater ferrys and eddys. At higher flows most of the rocks disappear underwater; follow the flow left of center. The pool on river left at the bottom of the chute is great for roll practice.

Below the pool the river is divided by an island. Most of the water goes down the left side of the island and forms a nice wavetrain with a couple of surfable holes. Eddy behind the island and ferry far right across some more small islands and ledges to get to a park service picnic area, with restrooms. This is a very scenic spot and probably the best choice of lunch stop on this section; also is a good place to hike out if necessary - follow the downriver trail uphill to get back to civilization. On river left across the pool is the diving rock, obvious in the summer by the presence of locals diving into the river from the higher of the two cliffs. The lower cliff makes a fun seal launch for kayakers.

After this the river bends to the left and goes over the third series of ledges. This set is similar to the first; most of the flow going far right, but there are plenty of alternate routes down. The abundant rocks create many small playspots. About this time the odor of sewage sometimes drifts over the river. That lovely odor comes from a vent pipe about 50 feet back in the woods on river right. There is an underground sewage line that runs next to the last half of the run on river right.

As the river takes a right bend and the I-75 bridge comes into view there will be a strong eddy with a clean eddy line on river right at medium flows. This is a great playspot for the local squirt boaters, and a great place to learn mystery moves.

Just above the I-75 bridge there is a large obvious rock 30 feet off the right bank of the river. I don't recommend splatting the upstream side of the rock, but it does have a great eddyline for stern squirts. Class III-IV Rottenwood Creek (see AW reach #497) enters the river just below this point.

On river right just below the bridge is a little drop running right to left that may have some wood in it but is otherwise fun to run. From this point down to the takeout, look for many more small surfing ledges at normal water. The river starts fording out, getting more shallow and gravelly.

The takeout is on the right about a half mile past the I-75 bridge. You can spot the end of the concrete boat launch from a few hundred yards upriver, sticking out of the trees.

Map of the put-in: Powers Island.

Map of the takeout: West Palisades and Paces Mill.

East Palisades.

Map of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.

Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.

How Polluted is the River??

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2013-07-11 16:49:03


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Put - InPutin
0.3Bridge HoleII+Playspot
0.6First LedgeII+Playspot
0.7The EddyPlayspot
0.8Second Set of LedgesII+Playspot
1.0The IslandIIPlayspot
1.3The Dive RockAccess Hazard
1.4Third Set of LedgesIIPlayspot
1.8The Squirt SpotAccess Playspot
1.8Whitewater Creek AccessAccess
2.5The Big RockPlayspot
3.5The Take OutTakeout

Rapid Descriptions

Bridge Hole (Class II+, Mile 0.3)
Located on far river right below the Powers Ferry bridge.  This is one of the best holes for spins, cartwheels and loops on the river at lower playboating levels.  The hole is a dry rock below 3,000 CFS, but up to about 7,000 CFS it is an excellent playhole. Over 7,000 it is more of a wave.

First Ledge (Class II+, Mile 0.6)
First Set of Ledges. Above 2000 cfs the best surfing is on river left.

The Eddy
In the flat pool between the first and second set of ledges theres a big eddy on river right beside a sandy beach. For the squirt boaters there is a very nice seam here. Downtime is possible.

Second Set of Ledges (Class II+, Mile 0.8)
The second set of ledges. Sometimes referred to as "The Devils Racecourse" from an old William Neely map. The main route is down the middle. Good eddies on both sides, good eddylines for squirting. Slalom gates are sometimes hung here in the winter. For those into attainments, the upstream move here is one of the hardest on the river.

The Island (Class II, Mile 1.0)
Some surfing to be found on the left side of the island at low water and some side surfing holes on the right side of the island at high flows.

The Dive Rock
Big Rock outcrop on river left. Lots of drunk people jumping off it during the summer.

Third Set of Ledges (Class II, Mile 1.4)
At high flows some surfing can be found.

The Squirt Spot
Above the next big Island there is a nice big eddy on river right, just before the river goes around a right bend. Local expert squirt boaters get up to 10 seconds of downtime here.
For Squirt boaters who want to park and play there is the Whitewater Creek access point on River Left. The Whitewater Creek Road Parking area is on the left where Long Island Creek enters the river.

Whitewater Creek Access
Parking area and access, river left.

The Big Rock
As you come around the last bend in the river and the I-75 bridge comes into view there will be a Volkswagen sized rock on river right. There are strong eddy lines on both side of the rock for squirting. This boulder is mildly undercut, I don't recommend splatting the upstream side.

The Take Out
Use the boat ramp on river right. If you go under Highway 41 you've gone too far.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
April 4 2015 (1385 days ago)
jhulsey6 (157264)
Ran the 'hooch from Johnson Ferry to Paces Mill on 3/21/15, about a 6.5 mile float that took us a
little over 3.5 hours including a brief lunch on the beach at diving rock. If you just float (don't
paddle) it takes about 5 hours. Water level around 3 ft which I think is about 2100 cfs. It was a
nice relaxing paddle on a beautiful day. Saw otters in multiple places. I'm told they can be
aggressive but they didn't give us any trouble. Nice stretch to float if you aren't looking for a
big adrenaline ride. I took 3 newbies with almost no experience paddling and my dog in my kayak and
we didn't have any trouble. We were in two tandem sit-on-tops. Watch out for fly fisherman at the
takeout, they can clog up the area pretty well.
March 6 2011 (2875 days ago)
x (1)
The AW ranking of Class I-II for normal flows and up to Class III for high flows is accurate. It
all depends on the water level.
November 21 2010 (2980 days ago)
RiverSasquatch (152566)
First off, there is no class II+ rapid on this section. Went down this section twice yesterday
(1480, 1200 cfs) and we had a great time. Brought a buddy who had never been kayaking and
whitewater and he had a blast. The water was green, didn't smell and the scenery was amazing. This
section gets a lot of bad publicity, but I enjoy it everytime. The two corner rapids are class
II... they are both listed as II+, but they aren't. Most fun part of this run is the 100 yard
section of rapids above the Island. It carries you all the way around the corner where there is a
smooth, rounded rock river right that you must navigate before making the turn. At 1480 cfs the
wave train on the Island rapid will get you wet.
June 3 2010 (3151 days ago)
fishman027 (151029)
There is a large tree/strainer in the river directly above Rottenwood Creek. You would have to be
blindfolded not to see it but it could be a problem for beginners.
July 18 2009 (3471 days ago)
chriscrob (150671)
There is an outfitter just google "shoot the hooch" but I called them today and they charge $25-$35
an item for private boaters depending on where they shuttle you to. Ludicrous.
October 13 2008 (3749 days ago)
x (1)
I would also like to know if there is an outfitter for this section. If not I would like to run it
soon in a canoe and if anyone is interested we could take 2 vehicles and leave one at the takout.
Hit me up at Jeremy
August 9 2008 (3814 days ago)
x (1)
is there a outfitter or anybody that runs a shuttle on this section any info would be great thank u
May 23 2008 (3892 days ago)
x (1)
well, we ran this section yesterday. the cars we left at the put in were all broken into. someone
took a crowbar or something and pried the locks out of the cars. they obviously knew what they were
doing. the cops have had this problem before. and are working on finding the culprits. my
suggestion is to park on the river right side of the river as the parking lot has more activity and
is less hidden.
March 13 2007 (4329 days ago)
Robert ButeraDetails
If doing an "attainment workout", an alternate putin/takeout is the NFS parking lot and beach off
of Whitewater Creek Rd (see the East Palisades map). This is just upstream of the I-75 bridge. From
here it is a short paddle upstream to 3rd ledge.
November 30 2006 (4432 days ago)
Paul MartzenDetails
Curious if the hydro relicensing for the <a href=
"">Morgan Falls Dam</a>
will have any effect on boating this river.
June 18 2005 (4962 days ago)
gary debacherDetails
Many of the paddlers and fisherpeople place little or no credence in the BacteriaAlert program. I,
for one, have paddled the Hooch in all conditions and have never gotten sick. There is also no
reason to believe that infection is a greater risk on this river than on other GA rivers. The
"HIGH" risk warnings are a classic example of exaggerating risk, and could have been
replaced by a simple warning that when the water is high and brown, it is likely to be dirty and
certain to be more dangerous for swimming.
September 23 2004 (5230 days ago)
mike lewisDetails
The Hooch was a flowin.
I went out just after the heavy rain from Francis and Ivan and it was quite a blast. Ivan was by
far the wildest I've ever seen the river, 6-8' holes just north or the Jumping Rock at Sandy Creek.
On Friday the 17th the river was somethign special. My trip was a bit soured by 2 rookies that I
happened to see fall out and I spent a good bit of time getting them safely to shore. But they made
it. We even managed to save one of their boats. If you're in the market for a $200 red Galyans
kayak, the other one is somewhere still in the river. Anyhow, the river is back to normal to high
levels now, went out again today check out how the river has changed. Just south of the Palisades
stay to the far left and there are some new cuts and changes in some old ones. I just found this
site and its cool to have somewhere to talk about it. Taker easy.
September 18 2004 (5235 days ago)
I found a trip report of the river at 28,000 cfs:

From: "Jimmy" <whitehtwoo@y...>
Date: Fri Sep 17, 2004 10:47 pm
Subject: Metro Hooch at 22 ft


How often do you get the chance to paddle the chocolate milk colored
water of the Metro Hooch at 22ft? Not since, well... today. Which
was my reasoning behind doing it. My buddy Jamie and I put in at
Powers Island just after noon. The water was at the bottom of the
walking bridge over the inlet and there were 2 dry steps at the
river. As we approached the 285 bridge, there were a few honks from
passing cars above.. I'm going to assume they were meant for

Lots of boilers and funky currents under the bridge and a small wave
train on the right, nothing really worth stopping for. About 100
yards down and around the bend, we could see the first set of shoals
and they were raging. We pulled over by the Riverside apartments
platform and planned our route. River right seemed the best bet,
doesn't hurt to be close to shore if need be.

Things were bouncy for the next 50 yards... and at Devil's Race
Course the waves grew to about 5 feet and were coming from all
directions. I got caught between one coming sideways and another
cresting right in front of me. It flipped me over (yuk!) and the
current started pulling me to the bottom of the river... upside
down. I tried to hit my roll, but couldn't get the paddle out of the
water fast enough before I started sinking. I had to punch out and
spend the next 20 yards floating to the shore. I collected my boat
and paddle, dumped out and met Jamie a few yards downstream.

Everything else from then on was a little pushy, but for the most
part washed out. The Palisades take-out ramp was completely
underwater and we ended up paddling all the way to the far end of
the parking lot, just before it hits 41.
August 25 2003 (5625 days ago)
William Van De BergDetails
Beware of car breakins at the takeout and possibly the put in. Be particularly aware of a black
jeep cherokee with very dark tinted windows, as that was the vehicle driven by the person who broke
into my car at the takeout of this run last week. If you see a car like this parked away from all
of the other cars in the lot, try to get the license plate number and call it in to the rangers of
the park, as this vehicle has been implicated in several of the recent breakins at this park. Be
good to bag this guy so that cars left in these lots can be a bit safer again.
July 15 2003 (5666 days ago)
I boated below the takeout once and there are some mild rapids from here to "the Wave".
July 8 2003 (5673 days ago)
Twice recently I've had the pleasure of running the metro hooch around 8000 cfs. Its sweet.

First ledge. The hole on the lower left is really big. It looks friendly, but you would have to
drop it from above, and we've been skirting it. There is no good eddy to look at it before you drop
it, and if you miss it you are on to the next wave/hole. The midstream ledges are awesome!! Surfing
everywhere. Holes, waves of all types and descriptions. Most of them are one shot deals, but if you
don't catch the one you are going for, be heads up and there will be another close by. After that
is a good breath catching stretch of flatwater. Which leads the second set of ledges :-) Best
surfing is top right, then start working to the middle. In the bottom middle of the channel are two
large holes. The top one is more of a cool, but really big breaking wave. Its good to go. Behind
that is a full blown hole. I've seen it played in, but not often. The eddy lines here at this level
are big, boily, and mobile. Just below hole #2 is the only eddy you will come to midstream. Take a
breather. More surfing is just below to either side of the island. The best hole is directly
between the eddy and the island, but its hard to see until you get close. From there work back to
the right of the island and grab whatever hole you can drop. At this water level I was perferring
the faster boat over the spud for making the moves. (but the spud rocked once you made the

Below the island it flatten out until you get to the next ledges. The next set, start right of
center, then start working right. Once again, drop anything you can. No eddies - so all the holes
are one shot deals. On the right, where there is flatwater, is a nice big surfing wave. Once again
a one shot deal.

Then things flatten out for a bit. Next thing is the squirt spot. Nice wave beside the eddy. Long
boats can ender, short boats can throw multiple ends. The wave beside the eddy is finicky.

The big VW sized boulder is very close to covered at 8000 cfs. Great eddyline for squirts and such.
Below that is the I-75 bridge. The bridge is a hoot. Boiling eddy line. Marching and moving eddy
fences. There is a great wave toward the bottom left with a good bridge piling eddy. Surfing the
pillow above the top pilings is fun, but sketch.

Below the bridge is a great wave on the right. Another once shot catch on the fly deal. There is a
tempting wave below this one, but stay away, its made by a rootball and backed by 75 feet of
underwater strainer. Below this is mostly flatwater, with two or three smaller waves before you get
to the takeout. At this level the water will be mostly runoff. Rolling and swimming is not
December 25 2002 (5867 days ago)
Somewhere around 12,000 cfs is when the take-out parking lot is in danger of going under water.
Which is also about the level the National Park Service locks the gates to the take-out. Not a
problem for boaters, just paddle across the parking lot and hike up the hill to the parking area
outside the park.