Chattooga - Section 4 - Route 76 Bridge to Tugaloo Lake Boat Ramp

Chattooga, Georgia, US/South Carolina, US


Section 4 - Route 76 Bridge to Tugaloo Lake Boat Ramp (Section 4)

Usual Difficulty II-IV+ (for normal flows)
Length 8.1 Miles
Avg. Gradient 34 fpm
Max Gradient 117 fpm

Low-water line at Corkscrew

Low-water line at Corkscrew
Photo of Andrew Huang by Amanda Loftis taken 07/21/07 @ 0.8

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-02177000 0.90 - 2.50 ft II-IV+ 01h10m 1.66 ft (running)

River Description

Gauge Description: NOTE: The online gauge above reads differently than the paddler's gauge on the US 76 Bridge. Most paddlers refer to the bridge gauge. The online gauge reads about .15 higher than the bridge gauge at 2 feet, about .25 higher below two feet and the same at about 2.8 feet. It can be run down to .5 or even lower but is very scrapy. Above 2.0' Five Falls starts to bump up to class 5. It can certainly be run above 2.2', but only by experienced Section 4 paddlers. The Five Falls section gets much more difficult and dangerous at high water. The highest known run was August 17, 1994 at something between 9 and 10 feet from below Woodall to the Lake. According to USGS the river peaked at 17,500 cfs. Participants included Russ Kulmar, John Lesan, "Snuffy" Hall, Kent Wiginton, and Richard Oldenquist.

This is the Southeastern Classic! More legends exist about Five Falls of the Chattooga than almost any other set of rapids. Taken individually any of the 5 rapids of Five Falls would be significant named drops on any typical Southeastern river. They are far from the hair found on steep creeks and the legendary danger associated with these rapids arises in part from the long history of boating the Chattooga (40+ years). That said, approach these rapids with caution as they have killed and injured plenty of boaters.
This is the river where a portion of the classic 1972 movie Deliverance was filmed.
The Chattooga became a National Wild and Scenic River on May 10, 1974.

An Important note about Crack in the Rock rapid.
Most of the existing guidebooks in print still recommend right crack as the prefered route. This is no longer the case. A flood back around 1998 blew the original log out of the crack. Since then right crack has become an undercut boulder sieve. Boats and boaters have washed under the logs and rocks in right crack. On November 9, 2003 it was the site of a fatality. Any swim out of Corkscrew should be taken seriously. Left Crack has been the site of numerous fatalities and Right Crack is possibly more dangerous. If you swim, get to the bank quickly and do not swim into Crack in the Rock. Do nothing that involves hysteria--just swim to the bank.

Most boaters run Crack below 2 feet through Middle Crack. Use your good judgement here. Running Left Crack when it has water flowing over the top is an easy move but do not get flipped at the top or you could get hurt or pinned. Middle Crack sometimes has debris. Far Right Crack is a blind rapid at high water and can accumulate debris. There is even a route over the right side of Right Crack if you are really careful.

The good news is that the rapid can be portaged on both banks.

Crack changes more than any other rapid on the river. Debris in the underwater sieve can change the pool height upstream of the drop and change the nature of the rapid. Center Crack changed recently (2005) and is now about a 2-foot-tall pourover that can backender kayaks between the two boulders.

Finally, just remember that most of the large rocks in Five Falls are undercut.

Putin and Shuttle Description

The put-in for this section of the river is located where US 76 crosses the river about 8 miles east of Clayton, GA near Long Creek, SC and forms the Georgia-South Carolina state line.

There are parking areas on both the Georgia and South Carolina side of the river.
On the Georgia side you will find a small hikers' parking area ($2.00 fee), which holds about 5 cars. You can put in here with a short walk down to the river. The walk is a little shorter than the paved road to the beach below Bull Sluice or the trail to that rapids. However, if you put in here you miss Bull Sluice rapid.

There is a large USFS parking lot on the SC side of the river with changing rooms and bathrooms and with no parking fee. Follow the paved path about 250 yards to the beach below Bull Sluice or take the trail off to the right and put in right above Bull Sluice. Boaters sometimes access this river via Stekoa Creek.

To get to the take-out:
From the put-in, head left out of the parking lot (east) for about 2.5 miles or so and turn right on Orchard Road. Follow Orchard Road until it dead-ends on Battle Creek Road (across from the Dixie Aluminum plant). Turn right on Battle Creek. Stay on Battle Creek; you will come to a sharp right turn in the road--stay on the paved road. You are now on Damascus Church Road. Just past the little white church on the left, bear right onto Bull Sluice Road. This is a dirt road and you will see a sign for the Tugaloo Boat Ramp. Follow this dirt road all the way to the end and park at the boat ramp. Round trip is about 45 minutes. There are other access points such as Tugaloo Dam, Possum Creek, and Camp Creek, but most of these are excessively strenuous.

At the put-in don't forget to fill out the self-registration forms.


Shuttle service / boating shop / Lake Shuttle.

Chattooga Whitewater Outfitters has a boating store and offers shuttle service to just about any paddleable portion of the Chattooga. So if you are coming from a distance, you can pack 4 or 5 boats onto one car and not have to worry about bringing that second car. It is a very good idea to call them a day in advance 864-647-9083. If you get to the river and find that you've forgotten your pfd, helmet, spray skirt, or paddle, they also rent equipment. They have a web site  .  They are located 2.6 miles on the South Carolina side of the river, just past the turnoffs for Earl's Ford and Woodall. You could even plug their street address into a GPS  (14239 Long Creek Hwy, Long Creek, SC 29658) to get you very close to the river. Coming from Atlanta it will probably take you past route 76 bridge on the way.I know that it does from Asheville. 

Chattooga Sounds (a campground near the takeout) operates a lake shuttle service for those who would rather not paddle across the

 lake. The fee is $20 for the 1st (up to) 4 people and $5 / person after that. Their number is 864-647-6196.

You can make arrangements for them to bring your cooler of snacks & drinks when then meet you at the head of the lake.

Other links:
See also Section 3.






Permit Information

Be sure to sign in at the putin.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-07-26 03:25:35


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Bull SluiceIV+Putin Photo
0.2Surf RapidIIIPlayspot Photo
0.4Screaming Left TurnIIIPhoto
0.9Rock JumbleIIIPhoto
2.0Woodall ShoalsIII+Access Portage Hazard Photo
2.2The playspot above 7 footIII+Playspot
2.37 Foot FallsIVPhoto
2.8Beaver SkullII+
3.0Stekoa Creek RapidIII+Photo
3.5Long Creek Falls Rapid and PlayspotIIIPlayspot Photo
3.6Deliverance RockIII+
3.8Turtle Head RockII+Playspot
4.0Ravens ChuteIII+Portage Hazard Photo
4.1Tunnel of LoveII+
4.2the rapid after Raven ChuteIIIHazard
4.5Little WoodallIII+
5.0Camp CreekAccess
5.1Five Falls
5.1Crack in the RockIVHazard Photo
5.1JawboneIV+Hazard Photo
5.2Sock em DogIV+Photo
6.0Lake Tugaloo

Rapid Descriptions

Bull Sluice (Class IV+)

Bull Sluice

Bull Sluice
Photo of Will Reeves by Clay taken 05/01/03 @ 1.7

Bull Sluice is a Chattooga Classic. It is right at the Highway 76 access and marks the end of section 3 and the putin for section 4. The entrance is class III-III+ into the eddy on the SC side (river left) above the main drop. There are many variations from this point. Beware of potholes and entrapment hazards. There will be a large crowd to cheer your run on most Summer weekends.

Surf Rapid (Class III, Mile 0.2)

Enders at surf rapid

Enders at surf rapid
Photo of Will Reeves by Amanda Loftis taken 05/06/07 @ 1.4

Usually run on river right. Surf Rapid is one of the better playspots on the river, allowing both cartwheels and enders. There is a big recovery eddy on river right. During the summer the raft companies swim customers thru the rapid.

Screaming Left Turn (Class III, Mile 0.4)

(RM) Screaming Left Turn Slot

(RM) Screaming Left Turn Slot
Photo of Steve Frazier by Rob Maxwell @ .66 bridge .98 USGS

There are multiple routes thru this rapid, the standard one being start river right, go over the first three foot ledge, then start working back to the left to avoid some rocks. The advanced move is to run the toaster slot. This is a slot move thru a three foot wide crack, under an overhanging rock. At flows above 5 feet this rapid develops a nearly riverwide hole that should be paddled around on the left. Around 2 feet on the gauge the left side grows a nice cartwheel hole

Rock Jumble (Class III, Mile 0.9)



Rock Jumble is about a 10 foot high sloping ledge. It can be run just about anywhere, depending on the water level. The best place to scout is on the right. The hero lines are the two slot moves on river left. Somewhere above 4 feet rock jumble creats a beautiful surfing wave.

Woodall Shoals (Class III+, Mile 2.0)

Woodall Shoals

Woodall Shoals
Photo taken 04/25/00 @ low runnable level

Woodall Shoals is a nice class 3+ rapid with a very dangerous, but not that impressive looking Class 5+ hole right in the top middle. If you are running the hole you don't need me to tell you how.

The standard route for those not messing with the hole is to hug the river right bank. This will lead you to a slide that's about 10 feet tall. Bang down the slide and from there choose one of the many routes down the rest of the rapid. The slide dries up at levels below about 1.1. At levels over 3 feet the hole at the base of the slide starts to get really mean, but another route opens up.

At levels above 3 feet the slide on river left at Woodall starts to open up. This is a great ride!! At levels below two feet this channel is totally dry. The channel is to the left of the center rock shelf most people scout Woodall from. On river left at Woodall is a trail to a Forest Service parking lot.

The playspot above 7 foot (Class III+, Mile 2.2)
Below Woodall are a couple of class 2-3 rapids that start getting bigger and bigger as the banks start to close in. The final one is a nice riverwide ledge hole with eddies on both sides. This is one of the better playspots on the river!

7 Foot Falls (Class IV, Mile 2.3)

7 Foot Falls

7 Foot Falls
Photo of Michiganrafter experiencing the South by Wildwater taken 03/02/01 @ 1.2 ft

Run the right side of the fold in the current. Stay out of the mildly undercut river left wall. If you run the left tongue you may find alligator rock....a known boat breaker.

Beaver Skull (Class II+, Mile 2.8)
A small rapid with some nice waves and a big boulder in the middle. The right notch is undercut, but good practice for tight creek moves. The left side has a nice wave up against a minor undercut. You'll be able to see Stekoa Creek coming in below this rapid on the right.

Stekoa Creek Rapid (Class III+, Mile 3.0)

(RM) Stekoa Creek Slide

(RM) Stekoa Creek Slide
Photo of Doug Warwick by Rob Maxwell @ .66 bridge .98 USGS

A long shoal type rapid with multiple routes. Most people start by running down river right over a small slide, then heading back toward river left. There are some good surf waves toward the bottom of the rapid

Long Creek Falls Rapid and Playspot (Class III, Mile 3.5)

long creek falls

long creek falls

Just below long creek falls on river right is a nice playhole.

Deliverance Rock (Class III+, Mile 3.6)
Most people start from the top right, then eddy hop down. The river will eventually go around the left side of a house sized rock. The left side of the rock is mildly undercut. This rapid was seen several times in the film Deliverance. Every time the river goes over 6 feet a new tree gets deposited on top (20 feet up) of the rock. At flows above 4 feet one of the strongest holes on the river is found here.

Turtle Head Rock (Class II+, Mile 3.8)
Another playspot. This one is best above 1.7

Ravens Chute (Class III+, Mile 4.0)

(RM) Raven Chute - Standard Line

(RM) Raven Chute - Standard Line
Photo of Don Kinser by Rob Maxwell @ .66 bridge .98 USGS

Start about 3 feet off the left bank and go around the outside of the curler taking a hard right turn. Bang down the slide and eddy out at the bottom. There is a dangerous undercut in the middle of the ledge. A swimmer drowned in the undercut near the center boof line.

Tunnel of Love (Class II+, Mile 4.1)
Two boulders laying against each other that you can paddle under. There is a class 3 minus rapid just below this.

the rapid after Raven Chute (Class III, Mile 4.2)
Nice wave on the right, a boof in the middle, and a boof on the left. The left boof has been known to pin and eat boats.

Little Woodall (Class III+, Mile 4.5)
Slot move on the left, a slide on right and a really sticky hole in the middle. The hole doesn't look like much until you are trying to claw your way out of it. There is a great eddy line below the hole, its deep enough for slalom kayaks to do vertical stern squirts.

Camp Creek
If things are going bad there is an access point on river right where Camp Creek comes in. The trail to the parking area is similar in steepness to the trail at Woodall. Below Camp Creek is a moderate sized wave train before the river goes around a right hand bend leading into Five Falls.

Five Falls
Five Falls includes the rapids of Entrance, Corkscrew, Crack in the Rock, Jawbone and Sock-em-Dog. Coming around the corner from Camp Creek the gradient is going to pick up to close to 100 fpm for the next half mile. At flows above 2 feet the pools between these drops start getting small. Entrance and Corkscrew start to become one drop, same thing with Jawbone and the Dog. All the midstream rocks are undercut, in particular those in Crack, Jawbone and the Dog. Being out of control is a bad idea, being out of your boat is worse. So be careful.

Entrance (Class IV, Mile 5.1)

5 Falls Entrance

5 Falls Entrance
Photo of Tom by C. McLoughlin taken 05/11/02 @ 1.4 / bridge

The first of the Five Falls. The standard route is start in the eddy at the top on river left, then work down a bumpy shoal to an eddy on river right above a 10 foot wide slot. From there peel out and run the slot angled to the right to stay out of minor undercut, and punch the hole at the bottom. Corkscrew is about 25 yards below.

This is one of about 4 different ways to run this rapid. There are also a left line and two middle lines.

Corkscrew (Class IV+, Mile 5.1)

Corkscrew in a Jetti

Corkscrew in a Jetti
Photo of Peter Scholander by Todd (Toad) Smith taken 1991

At moderate flows enter from the center of the river, as things get higher there is a sneak entrance slot on river left. After that go around the holes on the left. The bottom hole likes to play with decked boats in the 1.2 to 1.9 range. After that try not to get plastered on the river left wall. Get swimmers to shore quickly due to Crack being just downstream.

Strangly enough, Corkscrew gets a little easier as it gets higher. Its most ornry about 1.7.

Crack in the Rock (Class IV, Mile 5.1)

(RM) Far Right Crack - Entrance

(RM) Far Right Crack - Entrance
Photo of Dan Guthrie by Rob Maxwell @ .66 bridge .98 USGS

An Important note about Crack in the Rock rapid.
Crack is one of the few rapids that changes on a regular basis because logs and rocks shift around in the sieve that forms this rapid and can massively change the height of the pool. All of the existing guidebooks in print still recommend right crack as the prefered route. This is no longer the case. A flood back around 1998 blew the original log out of the crack. Since then right crack has become an undercut boulder sieve. Boats and boaters have washed under the logs and rocks in right crack.

Right crack can still be run but look at the drop before a blind run. Left crack has killed numerous swimmers, right crack has had many close calls and one fatality.

Most boaters run thru middle crack. Left crack does get run on occasion, but is usually avoided.

The good news is that the rapid can be portaged on both banks.

Jawbone (Class IV+, Mile 5.1)

Britmale Runs Jawbone

Britmale Runs Jawbone
Photo of David Evans aka Britmale aka Two Boat Dave by Mark Neisler taken 07/15/01 @ 1.7

At flows below 1.8 start river right and punch into the eddy on river left. At flows above 1.8 you have a back door entrance down river left into the eddy. Peel out of the big river left eddy, go around the curler, stay out of decap (the first undercut on the right) and either eddy out above Hydroelectric Rock (also undercut) or continue on around it, punching a pretty solid hole. Jawbone is kinda scary with all the undercuts.  Keep in mind that if you eddy out above Hydroelectric Rock you need to aggressively cross the eddy line before running the left side drop of Hydro.  Blowing this move can lead to being sucked in to Hydro.

Sock em Dog (Class IV+, Mile 5.2)

The Dog

The Dog
Photo of Will Reeves by Bonzi taken 07/15/02 @ 1.8

About a 7 or 8 foot boof over a chunky hole. Pretty forgiving between about 1.2 and 1.5, pretty unforgiving above 1.8. Its been said that many modern rodeo moves were unintentionally invented in the hole at soc-em-dog. Above 1.5 the left side Puppy chute opens up. In the mid 2 foot range the large undercut rock in the middle gets covered with water. Supposedly the hole washes out around 5.5 feet.

Shoulderbone (Class IV, Mile 5.3)

(RM) Shoulder Bone from upstream

(RM) Shoulder Bone from upstream
Photo by Rob Maxwell @ .66 bridge .98 USGS

After the pool at sock-em-dog work back to river left. Shoulderbone rock will be be blocking the right side of the pool. Standard route is on the left side of the rock from left to right. The hole halfway down is pretty stiff above 1.6.

Running the slot on the right side of shoulderbone rock has been done but its a bad idea. The slot is undercut and usually full of wood. There are potholes or sieves in the base of the drop that have swallowed boats and boaters for uncomfortably long periods of time.

Quaalude (Class III, Mile 5.6)
The last playspot before the lake.

Lake Tugaloo
2 miles of flatwater. The colder the air temp, the harder the head wind. Be aware that the lake has been known to ice over in the winter. If this is the case, turn around and hike out at shoulderbone.

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