Conasauga - Chicken Coop Gap to East Cowpen Road


Conasauga, Georgia, US

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Chicken Coop Gap to East Cowpen Road (Upper Conasauga)

Usual Difficulty III-IV (for normal flows)
Length 5.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 80 fpm
Max Gradient 180 fpm

Conasauga


Conasauga
Photo of Ken Strickland by Lee Wheeler

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
HOLLY CREEK NEAR CHATSWORTH, GA
usgs-02385800 300 - 2000 cfs III-IV 00h38m 70.7 cfs (too low)


River Description

Northern Georgia Canoeing, Sehlinger, B. and Otey, D.
Appalachian Whitewater : The Southern States

Finding the put-in is the hard part. From the take-out drive up West Cowpen Road to Chicken Coop Gap. For lack of a better description, go about four miles up West Cowpen, then look for a turnout on the left. You should be able to just barely see the river at the bottom of the hill if there are no leaves on the trees some 250 vertical feet below.

From there carefully carry your boat down a shale and mud covered steep incline (borderline cliff) to the river.

Most of the rapids are class 3 plus with a couple of borderline class 4 drops. Some of the bigger rapids are Undercut (aka Room of Doom) and Whale Tail. They will be obvious, espcially Whale Tail with its impressive roostertail of water.

Keep an eye out for wood in all of the major drops. Another thing to watch out for is rebar in the drops. About 100 years ago this area was extensively logged and the rebar is leftover from the logging.

Most people take out where the river meets East Cowpen Road rather than paddle the 4 miles of flatwater thru the Alaculsy Valley to the Jacks River confluence.

The Upper Conasauga is a beautiful wilderness run. People have put on higher than Chicken Coop Gap and report that its a great run, tho it does require quite a bit of work to get to the river.

Directions to the Upper Upper put-in from Boatertalk:
"I don't remember the exact mileage, but from the take-out. Go back in the direction that you came in, take the first left up a steep hill. At the fork stay right, when the road T's, go left. This will dead end @ a trail head. It is probably a 20 minute hike downhill to the creek. Total driving distance is probably 8-10 miles. There is section below the put-in with class III - IV fun, it's all read & run same as the lower part. Hope that this helps."



Directions: From Atlanta take I-75 north to Highway 411 north. Continue north on Hwy 411 thru Chatsworth, Ga. to Cisco. In Cisco look for the Cisco Baptist Church. It's a stone church on the east side of the road at the intersection of Hwy 411 and Old Ga. Hwy 2, which turns into East Cowpen Road. Go east on East Cowpen Road into the Cohutta wilderness for about 7 miles.

The Conasauga take-out will be the first major stream on the right as you come thru the mountains and the Alaculsy Valley opens up. If you get to the steel trestle bridge and the Jacks River Trail Head you've gone too far.

On the way to the take-out you will pass a game checking station. The game checking station is where West Cowpen Road intersects with East Cowpen Road. Using a good topo-map, a compass, and a GPS, you should be able to find Chicken Coop Gap on West Cowpen Road.


From Boatertalk (Nov 27 2001):
"If you get on GA Hwy 2 east follow it all the way until you get to Hwy 411 intersection...there will be a gas station on your right and a church kind of in front of you and to the left...you are now in Cisco...drive straight across the intersection and go exactly 3.2 miles...you will see a guard station on your left....the take-out with the crooked tree is down the road past the guard station...just a little ways after the little wooden bridge (look for small creek on river left)....from the guard station go up the road to your right exactly 5.8 miles to the put-in...listen for water...there will be a 4-wheeler type trail behind you on the left and a sign that says no motor vehicles....then bring your rope because you are going down a steep freakin put-in....go straight down(don't go to right when trail looks like it goes that way)...don't carry your boat...bring a rope.... water is straight down there....Yes, I call that one undercut rapid(room of doom)....and Yeah Whale Tail is good to go... use gauge at Eaton, GA for Conasauga....but it drops fast and sometimes by the time that water gets to that gauge, it's already gone from the gorge....if the water table is up and we get a good rain, then get there early for a good level.
peace,
Jamie Smith"

StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2006-01-22 20:17:40

Editors


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
2.5First LedgeIIIPhoto
2.8Third set of ledgesIII+Photo
4.0Room of DoomIVPhoto
4.7Whale TailIVPhoto
4.8Last big rapid aka PinballIVPhoto

Rapid Descriptions

First Ledge (Class III, Mile 2.5)

First ledge on Conasauga

First ledge on Conasauga
Photo by Brad Roberts taken 11/06/02

Ledge drop. Multiple routes depending on water levels and wood.

Third set of ledges (Class III+, Mile 2.8)

Third good Conasauga rapid

Third good Conasauga rapid
Photo by Brad Roberts taken 11/07/02

A big S-turn rapid. The holes at the bottom can get large.

Room of Doom (Class IV, Mile 4.0)

Room of Doom

Room of Doom
Photo of Simon Bishop by Brad Roberts taken 11/07/02

Slide high on the rock shelf to stay out of the undercut.

Whale Tail (Class IV, Mile 4.7)

Whale Tail aka Tombstone

Whale Tail aka Tombstone
Photo of Rob Maxwell by Brad Roberts taken 11/07/02

Drive left around the big roostertail floom of water.

Last big rapid aka Pinball (Class IV, Mile 4.8)

Conasauga

Conasauga
Photo of Ken Strickland by Lee Wheeler

AKA Pinball, is a few hundred yards below Whailtail. It is recognized by a house sized boulder on river left which is undercut. When entering this rapid stay away from the top of the large boulder. It appears to have an eddie above it but is a funnel into a bad sieve. This one is best run by starting top right, then hitting the boof on the right side. Avoid the pinning rock in the bottom middle.


User Comments

Users can submit comments.
February 3 2013 (2024 days ago)
Simon BishopDetails
After the flood from Ivan we ran this in a large group of 9 at a higher flow. All rapids was clean
of strainers but a hazard has threatened the life of one boater. The last rapid has a housed sized
boulder that is badly undercut. It is easly avoided to the right but looks like it has an eddie
above it. When a few got blew off line and went left to the eddie above the rock, one boater was
sucked under the large boulder from the eddie. When pulling his skirt, the boat went out from in
under him and he reached up an felt some wood to pull himself out from in under this rock. His
paddle flushed through but boat stayed in. Its like a large funnel with a 3x3 exit and could hold a
few boats. Avoid this rock. There is realy only two house sized boulders on the conasauga. One on
the Upper Upper that creates a slot to the left. The other is on the left in the last major rapid
on the Chicken Coop section. I think the best way to internet gauge anything in the cohuttas is
going to be with the usgs Mill creek gauge AW #8361 near Crandall. Haven't got anything dialed in
yet but around 2.5ft on the online gauge shows a good clue of water in the cohuttas. I also have a
Stick gauge where the old elbow tree was. Its river left 20ft upstream from the elbow. 1.8 is a
good minimum and if the gauge is under water its high. 1.8 is 0.6 on the old hwy 2 bridge gauge.
February 8 2011 (2750 days ago)
Huston PopeDetails
Jason Hall and myself ran this sections Sunday 2/6/11. Super low water, another half inch to inch
lower and we would have been in for it. All in all it was a good day. It was my first time on the
run. The gauge at the take-out was reading about 6 inches when we took out. According to Jason, who
has ran in many times at different levels (higher) said he hardly recognized the run until we got
to the last 4 or 5 rapids. I don't recall the order of the rapids. Whale tail was sketchy at such a
low level, a rock on just to the left of the tail comes into play that created a recirculating eddy
back in the hole that the tail was making. Nothing to bad, I was put into it, just had to man
handle the water a little bit and paddle back towards the tail and grab the downstream water. Jason
said at higher levels that rock is not in play but actually forms a decent hole. Room of Doom was
super sweet at the level actually, of course It was my first time and I dont know about it at
higher levels. It was a good boof and you felt like you clear your head by an inch from the over
hanging rock that forms the Room. Just boof hard. Other than that, there's not much more to tell. 6
inches is definitely the absolute minimum. I would recommend no lower than 9 or 10 inches. see ya
out there. Huston Pope
November 16 2009 (3199 days ago)
Tom WelanderDetails
I think these are correct locations and mileages for the major rapids. Three Ledges Rapid lat/long:
34.9429, -84.6498 3.2 miles from Coop Room Of Doom lat/long: 34.9455, -84.6525 3.6 miles from Coop
Whale Tail Rapid lat/long: 34.9469, -84.6527 3.7 miles from Coop Pinball Rapid lat/long: 34.9490,
-84.6566 4.0 miles from Coop
January 19 2006 (4596 days ago)
BradRDetails
Around 1.5 on the new gauge, I'd bump the whole run up a class.
January 18 2006 (4597 days ago)
Robert MaxwellDetails
The paddler's gage for this run is on the East Cowpen Road bridge. Its on the upstream river left
bridge support. The bridge is 2 miles downstream of the take-out. 4" is probably minimum. My
guess is that 1 foot is medium and 1'6" is probably high. I've heard of a group running it as
low as 0", but that would be an ELF run (Extrememly Low Flow.

A good way to gage if the Conasauga is running is to check 02385800 HOLLY CREEK NEAR CHATSWORTH,
GA. If it is over 300 cfs the upper is probably running.

P.S: the old Elbow Tree has finally rotted and fallen into the river. Its now useless as a gage for
the river.
December 14 2004 (4997 days ago)
Robert MaxwellDetails
The paddler's gage for this run is on the East Cowpen Road bridge. Its on the downstream river left
bridge support. The bridge is 2 miles downstream of the take-out. 4" is probably minimum. My
guess is that 1 foot is medium and 1'6" is probably high. I've heard of a group running it as
low as 0", but that would be an ELF run (Extrememly Low Flow

A good way to gage if the Conasauga is running is to check 02385800 HOLLY CREEK NEAR CHATSWORTH,
GA. If it is over 300 cfs the upper is probably running

P.S: the old Elbow Tree has finally rotted and fallen into the river. Its now useless as a gage for
the river.
November 16 2002 (5756 days ago)
BradRDetails
Ran this thing on Nov. 16, 2002. Good water, maybe on the low side of good. We put in 1.25 miles
past the tradition chicken coup gap put-in. There will be a gated forest service road on the right,
and a two car pull out on the left. On the left is a fishermans trail down to the river. This is a
much easier trail to the river than the standard chicken coup gap trail. First half of the run is
mostly Nantahala style class 2. Probably 3 or 4 miles worth. The good stuff is in the bottom half
of the run. There are maybe three class 4 rapids. Everything else is boat scoutable class 3. On
this date everything was pretty clear of trees. Good intro to creeking run.


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