Chestatee - 3 - Copper Mine to Lumpkin County Park

Chestatee, Georgia, US


3 - Copper Mine to Lumpkin County Park

Usual Difficulty I-II(III) (for normal flows)
Length 18.3 Miles
Avg. Gradient 10 fpm


Photo of Will Reeves

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-02333500 200 - 20000 cfs I-II(III) 00h19m 533 cfs (running)

River Description

Sources: S. Welander, B. Sehlinger and D. Otey, A Canoeing and Kayaking Guide to Georgia (2004); B. Sehlinger and D. Otey, Northern Georgia Canoeing (1980); Appalachian Outfitters.

The put-in can be either above or below Copper Mine rapid. For detailed information re. Copper Mine, see the Chestatee Section 2 page, AW Reach #3388.
Stay to the right of the island shortly below the rapid as the left channel is very shallow.
From Copper Mine to Highway 52, the gradient drops to 13 fpm. The scenery is still good, but the number of riverside residences is increasing. The section contains several Class II rapids (including Three Islands, The Rock Gates, Big Sky and Oh, THAT Rock) including Blasted Rock Rapid, named for the sharp, dynamite-blasted rocks that form it. The rocks were used to build a long-collapsed dam that stood at the start of the rapid. Shortly below Blasted Rock Rapid is a working granite quarry on river right. Shortly after the quarry is Highway 52, a short but steep alternate put-in/take-out.
Below Highway 52, the gradient decreases again and the river becomes slower with only Class I rapids. The scenery is still nice and consists of agricultural land and forest being rapidly replaced by development. Just before Highway 60, the river flows through Birch River, an upscale golf and residential development. Four holes require golfers to hit over the river so keep your eyes open for golfers preparing to hit and your ears open for cries of "fore" aka "duck").
Shortly before the Highway 60 bridge, a long, narrow island (with a par 3 hole on it) splits the river into a narrower left channel and a wider right channel. This split requires a strategic decision: the left channel is nearly blocked by a fallen tree that requires careful maneuvering through small gaps. The right channel has no such obstruction, but ffeds into the shallow right side of Gold Digger Shoals. At lower water levels, the right line through Gold Digger often requires that boats be walked, either across to the deeper water on river left just below the island or over the rocks after getting hung up. Gold Digger Shoals can be avoided by portaging on either side from under bridge, but the walk is shorter and easier on the right (up the path and across the parking lot).

After passing under Highway 60 at Gold Digger Shoals, the river parallels the highway for about a half mile. After passing Appalachian Outfitters and adding flow from Yahoola Creek, the river curves away from the highway to circle a mountain. Once again, the wooded banks are rapidly giving way to residences, but for now the feel is still peaceful. With mild Class I rapids, wildlife (especially turtles and blue heron), a sandy-beach picnic spot shortly after the midway point and outfitter shuttling, the 6-mile section from Highway 60 to Highway 400 is excellent for family day-trips.

Shortly before Highway 400, the river again parallels Highway 60, this time flowing in the opposite direction. The last half mile or so includes three Class I rapids - Yeehaw, Bass in the Boat and Last But Not Least - that require some maneuvering, especially at lower water levels

Most boaters choose to take out at Highway 400: the 3.9 miles from there to Lumpkin County Park is flat water with little to no current, depending on the water level of Lake Lanier. The park is the last reasonable take-out unless you're looking for a long paddle on still water.


To reach the take-out at Lumpkin County Park, go east from Highway 400 on Lumpkin County Parkway (the intersection has a stoplight and a Ford dealership) and follow the signs. There is a parking lot at the park.

The Highway 400 access can only be reached from the southbound lanes of the highway. If you're northbound, you can no longer do a U-turn at the intersection of Highway 400 and Highway 60: turn left on Highway 60, turn around in the lot at the bank and pull out into the right turn lane to go south on Highway 400. Turn right on the small unmarked road about 100 yards south of the bridge and take the dirt road to the right at the fork. Limited parking is available near the access. Please do not leave vehicles blocking the road or the turn-around.

To reach the Highway 60 accesses, take Highway 60 northwest (left, if coming north on Highway 400) from the intersection of Highways 400 and 60. Gold Digger Shoals begins under the Chestatee River bridge and access is at the fruit stand parking lot on the left just past the bridge. Appalachian Outfitters is on the left just before the Yahoola Creek bridge. Both properties are private, so ask permission before parking or putting in.

To reach the put-in and the Highway 52 access, go north on Long Branch Road (between the two convenience stores) from the intersection of Highways 400 and 60. The next light will be Highway 52. To reach the Highway 52 access, turn left on Highway 52 and then turn right on the dirt road about 50 yards before the bridge. Limited parking is available along the dirt road. The walk from road to river is short, but steep enough to be a challenge for anyone handling a boat alone.

To reach the put-in from the intersection of Highways 60 and 52, continue north on Long Branch Road to the bridge. The dirt road down to river left is now blocked by a fence, so parking is roadside only and is limited. The path to the put-ins above and below Copper Mine rapid begins below the south (river left) end of the bridge. The property downriver of the bridge is private, so its better to put in under the bridge and either run Copper Mine Rapid or take out and put in on river left so as to minimize the trespassing.

Appalachian Outfitters (706-864-7117) offers shuttles and canoe/kayak rentals for the six mile section from its property to Highway 400.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2015-02-14 03:29:33


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Copper Mine rapidIII+Putin Hazard Playspot
4.1Blasted RockIIHazard
4.7Highway 52Access
8.1Gold Digger ShoalsIAccess Hazard
8.5Appalachian OutfittersAccess
14.4Highway 400Access
18.3Lumpkin County ParkTakeout

Rapid Descriptions

Copper Mine rapid (Class III+)
A three-level drop, the first of which is the most challenging. At normal water levels, the usual path is slightly to the left of rock located just to the right of midstream. SEE DETAILS AT CHESTATEE SECTION 2 (AW REACH #3388).

Blasted Rock (Class II, Mile 4.1)
(For now, distance is map-based estimate.) The rapid is created by sharp, dynamite-blasted rocks that were used in a long-collapsed dam. The narrow island that divides the river can be run on either side, but be careful of deadfall on the left. Class II at moderate water levels, but more challenging with higher water.

Highway 52
Alternate put-in/take-out. Best access between the river and the dirt road is on river left about 100 yards before the bridge, just below the gauge building, but is steep enough to be a challenge.

Gold Digger Shoals (Class I, Mile 8.1)
An alternate put-in/take-out on Highway 60. Less traffic danger if you park and access the river from the large parking lot at the fruit stand, but ask permission if open. Gold Digger Shoals begins at the bridge and extends just around the turn to the right: the best line to avoid scraping or hanging up is near the left bank.

Appalachian Outfitters
The outfitter's access is not that easy to see from the river: look for a set of wooden stairs on the river right bank.

Highway 400
An alternate put-in/take-out you can't miss: the river goes under two large bridges carrying Highway 400. Even if you're asleep, the traffic noise will wake you. The access is river right, under the first bridge.

Lumpkin County Park
The last reasonable take-out. Miss this one and you're in for a long paddle with no current. The take-out is river right, at the boat ramp.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
June 5 2011 (2782 days ago)
jweeksjr (153178)
My wife, daughter and I ran the section from Coppermine to Appalachian Outfitters Saturday
06-04-2011. The reported flow was 205 cfs and the gauge showed 1.1 feet. The run was extremely
rocky. We scraped along the bottom of the river at nearly every fall, rapid, or ripple. While we
never had to exit our boats to drag off rocks, it was a bit aggravating and did affect our ability
to line up for runs. The options for running the various falls and shoals disappear at this low
level an you often find yourself with but a single option, other than a portage, for passing a fall
or rapid. This can create difficult and dangerous situations due to the lack of room to maneuver in
a rapid or fall or to avoid sieves. If you plan to run this section at low levels be prepared to
deal with shoals, sieves, and other obstructions that are under water at higher water levels.
Finally, the distance from the intersection of Hwy 9 and Hwy 52 to the bridge at coppermine is 1.8
to 1.9 miles and parking can be tricky as it is strictly roadside parking at the bridge.
March 15 2010 (3229 days ago)
fesingleton (150884)
Ran the section between Appalachian Outfitters and GA 400 on Saturday. River was nice and full, but
lots of debris and at least two bank-t-bank downed trees. Some of the landmarks and beaches are
hard to recognize with water up. Some of this section's "rapids" are blown out at this water level;
some new play spots appear in sections that are normally high and dry. All pretty straightforward
though and easily navigated albeit fast water for the Chestatee.
May 19 2007 (4260 days ago)
shari heinzDetails
Add another strainer to the list - May 19, 2007 in the pool just before Blasted Rock, river right.
River left is open. The strainer below Blasted rock is more of a hazard at this level 1.08 or lower
as there is now a ledge that you have to go over, as higher level the little ledge is not visiable.
The current want to pull you into the strainer.
May 12 2007 (4267 days ago)
shari heinzDetails
Two new strainers (May 12, 2007) both are below Blasted Rock, first is jsut past the curve after
Blasted rock and is 3/4 block from river right, Large Beech tree, easy to get about on the left.
The other a spruce, below the church property beach area on river left, blocking 3/4, easy to get
around on river right
January 11 2006 (4752 days ago)
Rick BellowsDetails
New Streamkeeper: Rick Bellows,