Difficulty II-IV+
Length 8.1 Miles
Gauge CHATTOOGA RIVER NEAR CLAYTON, GA
Flow Range 0.90 - 2.50 FT
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 1.45 [FT]
Reach Info Last Updated 05/19/2019 9:53 pm

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 http://www.chattoogaadventures.com/  .  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. http://www.chattoogasounds.com/

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Rapid Descriptions

Bull Sluice

Class - IV+ Mile - 0
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
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 - 0.35
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

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
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
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 - 2.25
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
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
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
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
Just below long creek falls on river right is a nice playhole.

Deliverance Rock

Class - III+ Mile - 3.6
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
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
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Another playspot. This one is best above 1.7

Ravens Chute

Class - III+ Mile - 4
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
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
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
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
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
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
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

Class - Mile - 5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
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

Class - Mile - 5.09
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
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
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 - 5.12
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 - 5.13
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 - 5.14

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
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 - III+ Mile - 5.25
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
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
The last playspot before the lake.

Lake Tugaloo

Class - Mile - 6
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
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.

Comments

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Sam Muller
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9 months ago

There is currently a new log in Center Crack on top of the log that has always been there. At ~1.4 (bridge) it makes the drop 4-5 feet tall. The landing can backender you powerfully. The log is moving up and down with the current so I don't think it's stuck all that tightly. More water is also flowing through right crack now. Look before you leap! EDIT: That log has been gone for a while but crack is always changing.

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Simon Krzych
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5 years ago

We ran this section on July 7th 2012. Second day on the Chattooga with water running close to the first day on section 3 at 1.25ft. Great run with added adventure and difficulty. We lost Mark out of the Mini Me leaving Steve stranded. Amazing day with a lucky boat tow at the lake. I can't wait to get back in the water and run this section again.

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n/a
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9 years ago

I went down this run as well as section III on labor day weekend at 1.20 on usgs (online) gauge. We ran everything fine until we got to crack in the rock. The right and left cracks were too low to run, so we planned to go down the middle until when I paddled over there there was a large log blocking the way. We had to portage to the left on a rock and get back in but it was difficult because there was no banks so I threw my boat in and then I jumped in the river and climbed back in my inflatable kayak. I would try to get out on the river right though before I resulted to getting out on the left. Lots of scrappy shoals at this level.

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Lenny Galle
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10 years ago

At .98 rock jumble is a pain in the butt. Literally. It hurt. THe normal line is low to go. I drank from the river. Good times all in all. At 1.05 it is much easier cause you dont fall sideways on a rock and fall off of it. Rolling in rock Jumble stole my paddle. Found it when it wiggled loose a minute later. Rolling in rock jumble HAHA right if you like the taste of granite.

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n/a
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10 years ago

Is there anyone who does shuttles in this area? Me and my buddy are coming around may 14th but we know nothing about the area. We were gonna spend a couple days in charlottee and then go run secs 3 and 4 of this river.

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Bill Mandler
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10 years ago

The tree was not there on 1/01/09.

default user thumbnail
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10 years ago

Ran the middle crack yesterday with no problems, but this was before the surge of water so there is no telling once again what may be in there.

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Matt Muir
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11 years ago

Check out http://www.chattoogariver.org/index.php?req=dam&quart=Su2002 for the history of the Tallulah and Chattooga before the erection of the Tugalo Dam. It's got some niche ole photos of rapids which used to exist, some 80+ years ago. (Sniff...)

Thanks to "Gomer" at BT for pointing out that great article!

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Matt Muir
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12 years ago

The USGS has apparently changed some stuff with their formatting. AW's web developer is working on fixing this glitch.
Meanwhile, this handy table can help you make sense of the reading from above:

flow (cfs) stage (ft)
240 1.2
300 1.3
350 1.4
420 1.5
490 1.6
570 1.7
650 1.8
740 1.9
840 2.0
940 2.1
1040 2.2
1160 2.3
1280 2.4
1400 2.5
1550 2.6

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Don Kinser
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14 years ago

The Chattooga actually became part of the National Wild and Scenic River system on May 10, 1974. July 1, 1976 was the first day that it was illegal to boat aboe the highway 28 bridge.

Yes a new bridge is being built. However the existing paddler's gauge will be preserved, at least that is the plan at this point.

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BradR
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15 years ago

Right Crack looks like the tunnel of love at Ravens Rock underwater New
Forum: BoaterTalk
Re: right crack at chattooga by tarheel123 Nov 10 2003, 23:29 GMT New
Date: Nov 10 2003, 23:45 GMT
From: GA_CREEKER

I went scuba diving at Crack a number of years ago and went all around right/middle and left crack. The two rocks almost touch at the top of right crack. A large log (there used to be two) goes from the bottom of the river and is wedged in the top crease. The smaller logs/branches have collected horizontally like a beaver dam to seal most of the opening. No significant water went around the river right of the log but a lot of water goes around the left and under the big rock in the center of the rapid. This rock is undercut/overhanging just below the water surface and you can go back 5-7 ft from the downstream face. A good number of boats have gone through the passage but a body may have a higher likelyhood of snagging on one of the many branches forming the dam. I suspect that if the log ever rots/washes out the entire river would go through this slot and you would paddle under the rocks you go over now like a bridge.

Aside, you can walk into left crack and go under the rock between left and center crack and sit and watch the bubbles of center crack go by on one side (a 3x5 ft window) and the bubbles of left crack go by on the other side.

If a boater is ever stuck in left crack you need to push their shoulders/arms back into the drop until the water catches their torso. They will then wash under the pinning rock and free from the rapid. I've worked a recovery here and you cannot pull someone against the force of the water. There is lots of room under the pin rock (5-6 ft), which is why kayaks pin there so bad. Also a canoe or raft can be broached across the top of the drop significantly reducing the amount of water going through the drop.

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BradR
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16 years ago

Section 4 playspots, from JBon boatertalk:
Not good play on section IV......good play on section III??????? Allow me to list out SOME of the playspots on section IV (level dependent):
1: Surfing Rapid
2: Hole above 7 ft.
3: Hole RIGHT above seven foot(not for the timid..better at
lower levels)
4: Pourover below little 7ft....can wheel on both sides
5: Surfing wave at bottom of Stekoa rapid
5: Long Creek hole
6: Turtlehead rock
7: Splatwheel rock at turtlehead (sliding splatwheel)
8: Wheelin' rock below Raven's chute
9: Splatwheel right below this one
10: Another sweet splatwheel spot..hard to describe where
11: Little Woodall....again not for the timid
12: Hole in slot above Crack..need a 100% roll for this one
one of my favorites lately
13: Quelude


This is just the tip of the iceberg. Lots of fun eddy lines and smaller waves and holes. Only take a creekboat if you're not going to play, or if you feel you need the extra confidence it'll give you. If you're a solid boater and plan on playing, you can have LOTS of fun on Section IV. There aren't ANY really fun playspots on Section III until the water gets above 2.5 ish. I do, however, agree a creekboat will feel better at the lake.

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BradR
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17 years ago

More Gauge correlations.
1.55 bridge = 1.7 USGS.
1.45 bridge = 1.6 USGS as of April 2002.

Gage Descriptions

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.

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.

Directions Description


We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

Date Flow Result Factor  
2018-07-16 Medium Near Miss/Rescue Other Read More
2016-11-27 Low Near Miss/Rescue Other Read More
2014-12-07 Low Near Miss/Rescue Other Read More
2013-06-19 Medium Fatality Other Read More
2012-07-14 Medium Fatality Other Read More
2011-09-02 Low Near Miss/Rescue Other Read More
2009-10-04 Low Near Miss/Rescue Other Read More
2003-11-09 Medium Fatality Other Read More
2003-05-26 Medium Fatality Other Read More
2000-08-05 Low Near Miss/Rescue Other Read More
1999-11-30 Low Injury Other Read More
1999-05-30 Low Fatality Other Read More
1998-01-11 High Fatality Other Read More
1996-06-13 Medium Fatality Other Read More
1995-06-09 Medium Near Miss/Rescue One Boat Trip Read More
1995-04-30 Medium Fatality Other Read More
1994-10-24 Medium Near Miss/Rescue Other Read More
1994-09-09 Medium Near Miss/Rescue Inexperience Read More
1993-11-30 High Near Miss/Rescue High Water Read More
1993-03-11 Medium Fatality Other Read More
1992-06-13 Medium Fatality Inexperience Read More
1991-05-15 High Fatality Poor Group / Scene Management Read More
1989-08-27 Medium Fatality One Boat Trip Read More
1989-07-31 Low Near Miss/Rescue Other Read More
1984-03-18 Medium Fatality Cold Water Read More
1981-04-12 Medium Fatality Failed Rescue Read More
1979-10-21 n/a Fatality Other Read More
1979-08-01 n/a Fatality Other Read More
1975-09-28 n/a Fatality High Water Read More
1974-06-23 n/a Fatality Failed Rescue Read More
1974-05-19 n/a Fatality Other Read More

Alerts

             

News

article main photo

Lift Boating Ban on Wild & Scenic River!

4/20/2004
Risa Shimoda

The Forest Service has upheld the ban on boating on a Wild and Scenic River, based on the assumption that boaters and anglers are not capable of co-existing. AW is heading into battle and needs your help to challenge this ban on shared use of our federal lands.
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Matt Muir

user-avatar

Lee H Thonus

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wreeves

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1195101 05/28/09 Matt Muir Fixed link to Section 3; added abstract.
1206521 05/27/16 Lee H Thonus typo corrected, still won't accept correct type size
1195012 05/21/09 Matt Muir Added second state (SC)
1190270 06/12/07 wreeves Added second state (SC)
1195102 05/28/09 Matt Muir Adjusted links to Section 3 and Stekoa.
1206742 07/26/16 Lee H Thonus trying to change type size & return
1212435 05/19/19 Lee H Thonus updated image position
1200379 07/08/11 Matt Muir Corrected mileage and W&S River date; cleaned up some text.
1202740 09/16/13 Lee H Thonus additional hydro remark
1206517 05/27/16 Lee H Thonus Added lake shuttle info.
1206518 05/27/16 Lee H Thonus temp edit
1206520 05/27/16 Lee H Thonus edit not working