Difficulty I-II(III)
Length 18.3 Miles
Flow Range 200 - 20000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 36 minutes ago 204 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 07/05/2020 8:06 pm

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.

Rapid Descriptions

Copper Mine rapid

Class - III+ Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
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
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
(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

Class - Mile - 4.7
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
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
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
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

Class - Mile - 8.5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
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

Class - Mile - 14.4
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
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

Class - Mile - 18.3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
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.


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John Weeks
9 years ago

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.

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Frank Singleton
10 years ago

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.

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12 years ago

there's a stainer in the middle chute on copper mine rapids at the first drop would be the best run if not for the tree in the rapid. Chris

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shari heinz
13 years ago

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.

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shari heinz
13 years ago

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

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Rick Bellows
14 years ago

New Streamkeeper: Rick Bellows, chestateer@yahoo.com.

Gage Descriptions

In addition to the online gauge, the river is readily visible from the dirt road at the Highway 52 bridge and along Highway 60 between Highway 400 and Appalachian Outfitters.

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  
2017-06-02 High Near Miss/Rescue Inexperience Read More
2006-09-25 Medium Fatality Other Read More
2004-06-06 High Near Miss/Rescue Cold Water Read More



article main photo

Claude Terry, paddler, outfitter, and conservationist, dies

Charlie Walbridge

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!


Craig Irwin


Rick Bellows


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1215405 07/05/20 Craig Irwin updated image position
1204161 02/14/15 Craig Irwin 201522
1190272 04/16/06 Rick Bellows n/a