Section 2 is a scenic float trip with a handful of small ledges, rapids, and shallow shoals separated by long sections of deep flatwater. At moderate levels the run is class II+ with no significant objective hazards except perhaps the occasional tree. The run starts at an official put-in a mile or so downstream of the Highway 28 bridge, and Earls Ford is the typical take-out (River left). There are also a number of possible put ins on the West Fork upstream that add a nice addition to the run if the water is high or you want to make it a 2-day trip. There are quite a few nice campsite options on riverside benches in the middle part of the run, but few beaches. It is worth getting a trail map to pick a campsite away from trail access. 1.8 feet is a reasonable minimum for rafts.
This is a ledge style rapid with some playspots in it. There is an area on river right about an 1/8 mile below that you can stop and take a break.
Paddled Sec 2 on 01/16/2014 @ 1.97 and very clear water. Nice level, not scrapey. We ran the river left chute at Big Shoals after scouting both sides.
After the early July 2013 high-water sets where the Chattooga hit 5 feet or higher inside of several days, section 2 is clear of meaningful strainers. There is a big pile-up of wood at the center-left of Big Shoals rapid, but it adds no additional hazard or difficulty to that rapid. It was a treat having good water level in mid-Summer on this section; at 2.3 feet the runs pushes through a bit faster, of course, while still providing the beginner-intermediate paddler with the lovely Chattooga scenery.
section is strainer free. ran at slightly over 2.0 and it was not bony. and had a few decent waves to play in. tree at big shoals on river left is cut back and no problem when running shoot..
Paddled section 2 today...18 March 2011. It was 85F today (1 degree under the record high of 86 at GSP airport), and no clouds in the sky..The level was 2.2, which was perfect for kayaks. Paddled with someone who had not kayaked before, and he did great in a recreational kayak. The water was very cold. We did not wear any cold weather gear, and we are glad we did not take any swims...it would have been a shock to the system. I think the run took approx 3.5 hours..we stopped quite few times to trade kayaks, eat/drink, scout big shoals, etc.
I wouldn't run Section II at less than 2.2 on the hwy 76 bridge gauge. There are too many spread-out junk shallow shoals. Especially, if you are taking newbies, give them a water level that allows them to enjoy this section.
Ran Sec2 on 11/5 at @1.28 ft. Tediously scrapey in shoals. Did a LOT of knuckle walking - made a long day. Big Shoals was dry except for the chutes at either end of the ledge. The river-right chute looked dangerous, all the water dumped down into a rock sieve. The left line was OK if you missed the overhang but directly below was a lot of exposed rock that would have been another knucklewalker, so we portaged down the normal middle line. I would recommend the lower limit for this run be jacked up to maybe 1.4 or 1.5 ....
This is a longish trip (7 miles?) with a lot of flatwater. It's beautiful and wild though and we had it all to ourselves. Water was very cold and clear, saw a HUGE school of big brown trout in one place. You can spot the Earl's Ford takeout pretty easily by the presence of a big sand beach on the left with wooden stairs leading to the trail up to the parking lot, a small campground and a side creek on river right. If you parked in the Earl's Ford parking lot on the SC side, make sure you take the southernmost or right-hand trail, which can be recognized by it being relatively flat, gradual and wide enough to drive a vehicle. The northern or left trail (steeper, narrower and covered in horse manure and hoof prints) will get you lost in the woods. Also: I strongly recommend shuttling on the SC side (12 miles each way) because the road on the GA side is incredibly twisty - it'll take longer and be more dangerous to drive. However, you can apparently drive right down to the river on that side, something to think about if you aren't up to the "Chattooga Carry".
Report covering the recreation users, use, economic impacts, and economic benefits of the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River.
Letters in opposition of paddling on the Chattooga from Paul Broun, Robin Hayes and J. Gresham Barrett - Congressional Representatives
This is the gauge located at Highway 76, many miles downstream. Consider 1 foot a very scrapey minimum, suitable for innertubing.
The maximum level is really not an issue on this stretch.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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Dennis Simpkins and Gary Kyle surfing Turn Hole Rapid
Turn Hole Rapid
Vince at Big Shoals
Chattooga Section 1
Clean Run In Big Shoals
Running Big Shoals
Swimming In Big Shoals
Approaching Big Shoals
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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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