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Difficulty II-V(V+)
Length 6.6 Miles
Gauge CHATTOOGA RIVER NEAR CLAYTON, GA
Flow Range 2.00 - 10.00 FT
Flow Rate as of: 57 minutes ago 1.99 [FT]
Reach Info Last Updated 12/28/2008 6:31 pm

River Description



 

The water quality for Stekoa Creek is very poor.  Clayton's sewage system is not very good, and it is on Stekoa Creek as it flows through town.  It is also very dirty water from all the road and parking lot run-off from the town of Clayton.  I have paddled both the upper and lower sections and the water seems to be a little cleaner in the lower parts but probably because there are a few larger tributaries that help dilute the nasty water that comes from Clayton.  This being said this is a beautiful run and it is very sad that such a beautiful creek is being destroyed by the poor sewer system of Clayton.  When putting on at Timber Bluff road the creek is pretty flat to start off.  There are a few class 1 and 2 shoals along with 2 logs jams that had to be portaged the last time I ran it (Jan. 2, 2008).  It then goes through some fields and a pretty large creek comes in on the right while the river has been flat.  It is about to pick up after this so be on the lookout.  You then go through a little gorge that has like 4 or 5 rapids with three that could give some trouble.  The first has a bad undercut on the rive right side where a lot of the water is pushed, right below this is about a 6-8 foot slide that had a log in it.  We were able to get around the log but had to stay as far left as possible.  The next rapid drops about 8 foot, and can be ran as a double drop down the left center heading left then back to center or possibly boofing on the far right side into small and kind of shallow landing, we ran the left side.  The river then mellows to class 2 for a ways and passes under Wolf Creek Road Bridge.  It then stays by the road for about half a mile or so before heading around a sharp left bend in the river. 
     This is the other option to put in at, and is where I have put on mostly because the few rapids that are up stream are not really worth the flat water and log jams, plus there are plenty of bigger rapids down the river.  The river takes a sharp bend to left and then immediately bends back to the right with a big rapid.  This rapid probably drops about 10-15 feet.  The river right side is a rapid that has potholes and is like a slide.  The river left side is a more vertical drop but does not have a great landing.  There is a good trail to scout this rapid on the river right side.  At low to medium level say from 1.0 to 2.0 feet on the wolf creek bridge I would say the river right line would be the best.  I have only ran this section 2 times and the level was 1.0 and we ran the right line with no problem, but I have looked at this rapid at other levels and when it gets over 3 feet it starts looking very hard, and has a big corkscrew type wave in it.  When it is this high the left line could defently be an option. 
I have tried to put some descriptions of the major rapids on here, but it is a long run and I cannot explain all the rapids and dangers.  This creek is very bad undercut and sieved out below the Really Big Slide Rapid.  In the lower mile before it empties into the Chattooga it is very steep and pretty much every rapid has a sieve, undercut, or strainer in it so be very careful in the lower section.  There are also 2 very big waterfalls that need to be portaged as they both land on rocks.  Don't let them sneak up on you, as they both come after a stretch of flatwater with some entrance ledges that are runnable as long as you can eddy out before the lip.
 

Gradient: Mapping this out on Google Earth here is the Gradient I got for feet per mile-by-mile starting at Timber Bluff Road Bridge. 30, 55, 35, 75, 10, 80, and 200 feet in the last .60 miles before it drops into the Chattooga. I did this by using the path ruler on Google Earth and looking at the elevation by the mile.  This is probably pretty accurate, but the next time I go down I will try to take a GPS to make sure.

 

 Shuttle Details

The logical and easiest shuttle for this run is to put on at either Timber Bluff Road off of 76, or at the pull off of East Wolf Creek Road where the river leaves the road, (putting on at the pulloff on East Wolf Creek Road cuts out the first two mile of the run).  The take out that is the easiest to access if coming from Atlanta or Clayton would be to take out at Camp Creek which is about 2 miles down the Chattooga from where Stekoa Creek flows in and is above the Five Falls.  The other Shuttle option is to use the standard Chattooga take-out for section four which includes the infamous 2 mile lake paddle to the Tugaloo Lake Boat Ramp.  The Camp Creek take-out is a parking lot on river right about two thirds of a mile off the river. The trail is similar in length and steepness to the trail at Woodall Shoals. Using this option knocks off about 30 miles of shuttle. 

 

 

See also the Class-V Upper Stekoa.

 

Also if anyone has any information on the names of the rapids post them in the comment section and I will change them.  I made them up from my 2 runs that I have done.

Rapid Descriptions

Put in

Class - Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Bridge that crosses creek on Timberbluff Rd.  Find a good place to pull off the road completely and be discrete, all private property so be respectful of residents.

Alternate Put-in

Class - Mile - 2.1
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

This is a put in that cuts out 2 miles of flatwater and only passes up 2 rapids.  It is the bend in Wolf Creek Road where the road leaves the creek.  There is a gage about a quarter mile upstream on the bridge. 1.0 feet is what I consider a minimum as it will be a little scrappy at that level.

Big Bend Rapid

Class - Mile - 2.25

This is the rapid right after the creek leaves wolf creek road.  It is right around the corner.  At low flows say below 1.6 feet on wolf creek bridge gage run the right side of the island.  You can portage and scout on right.  At higher flows you can run the more vertical left side.  This rapid drops about 15-18 feet total.  Class two boogy water afterwards till it gets flat again.

Entrance to Taylor Shoals

Class - Mile - 3.3

You will paddle by a field on the right side of a short flatwater section and as the river bends to the left you should start thinking about getting out, especially at high water.  There are a few small ledges for about 50 yards before the big waterfall of Taylor Shoals.  At low water you can run this entrance, but be careful and don't miss eddys.  There is an ok portage trail on theleft for the waterfall.

Taylor Shoals

Class - 5.3 Mile - 3.4

This is a very big waterfall that lands on rocks.  Portage on Left.  If you run it take pics so you can right the description.

Good Boogy Below Taylor Shoals Portage

Class - Mile - 3.4

Good fun class 3/4 boogy water after taylor shoals waterfall.  This is just read and run, but there are some undercut to stay away from.

Flatwater Ledge

Class - Mile - 4.9

After Taylor Shoals boogy water there is a long stretch of flatwater of maybe a mile or so in length that is broken up by a nice 8-10 foot ledge.

Entrance Ledges to You Run It First

Class - Mile - 5.3

Some Ledges that are the entrance to a very big 40 foot waterfall that all lands on rocks. Be careful after coming out of long flatwater section and know you can make eddys. Portage on the right is not a good trail at all, don't know about left side.

Big Shoals

Class - Mile - 5.4

Very big 40 or so foot waterfall that lands on a big rock shelf.  Portage on right is hard, but doable. Don't know if left side is a better portage or not.  If you run entrance ledges above this one don't miss the eddy.

Mill Shoals

Class - Mile - 5.5

We ran this one down the right side making it like a double drop slide, but maybe a possible line down the center.  Pretty scrappy at top at low water.  Drops about 30-40 feet total.

Triple Undercuts

Class - Mile - 6

This rapid is not too big, but very dangerous. It has bad undercuts on the right side where you enter the rapid and then the current pushes bad to the left side of river to another undercut. There is a rock ledge here that you have to power over at low flows. There is also a bad undercut at the bottom of the rapid. Stay center as much as possible.  You can portage on right.
 

Double Boof or Die

Class - Mile - 6.05

This is another small rapid that is a double boof of about 3 and 4 feet, but it has a very bad undercut sieve on the left side. 

Boof above Cave Rapid

Class - Mile - 6.15

This is a pretty nice boof above the cave rapid. The top part of the drop is about 4 feet with current feeding into undercut on right, then some current into a nice boof of about 6-8 feet. It kinda lands on rocks.  There are sieves and undercuts everywhere.  Eddy out just below cause Cave Rapid is just below.
 

Cave Rapid

Class - 5.3 Mile - 6.2

This is about a 12 foot drop that is very nasty and dangerous. It is all undercut and sieved out. Most of the current goes into a cave with no escape. Fun to Risk factor is very low on this one.  We portage and seal lonched off rock on the right, may be able to portage left but not sure.
 

1st Boof Below Cave

Class - Mile - 6.25

Nice boof rapid of about 6-10 feet total.  We ran a little right of center.

2nd Boof Below Cave

Class - Mile - 6.3

The secong nice boof below the cave rapid.  Eddy out on the right to scout or portage pothole slide.

Pothole Slide

Class - Mile - 6.4

 This is the slide you can see looking up from the chattooga. it is about 20 feet long slide that has bad undercut on the left. Run far right.
 

Comments

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Scott Magley
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8 years ago

After many years of putting it off, I finally ran the Lower Stekoa from E. Wolf Creek Rd. into the Chattooga. The 441 gauge was at 0" and the Wolf Creek bridge gauge was at 1.4. This was a low level, but that is ok for an exploratory run. There were seven of us in the group, none of whom had run the entire length. Several had hiked up from the Chattooga previously and run the last several rapids, but none from the top down. It was a good trip, rather uneventful. I was not expecting that there would be so much flatwater. The entire run is probably 60-70% flatwater with some big rapids thrown in. At one point, nearly half way down the creek, one of the guys with us proclaimed, "wow, I finally got to run a rapid." The first rapid was fun, right or left of the island. The second rapid was big with a hard hit at the bottom. The third rapid is the money drop. This one rapid, I don't know if it has a name or how many people have run it, but it is the money drop that will lure me back again. It is fairly intimidating looking but smooth as butter. Note to self, don't start celebrating until the rapid is done...I started calling it Gorilla's Mama for lack of knowledge of it's already name. (This name because when you run the right side, it has the same feeling of Gorilla, without the notch, but of the feeling you get of landing off the pad and continuing to drop under the veil)....The last stretch into the Chattooga is tight and technical, but short and leaves you feeling slightly unsatisfied. If it weren't for Gorilla's Mama, I probably wouldn't go back. There is one rapid I would especially like to comment on. The death cave, sieve, whatever its name is rapid. I have heard about this rapid for at least a decade and a half...ever since Chris Harjes and Nathan Hale ran this creek back in '94 or '95. That one rapid...and the poor water quality...let me repeat that...and the poor water quality, have kept me from wanting to experience this creek, at least from being able to find others that would want to go explore it with me. So I am thankful for a group of paddling friends who are willing to try new stuff and break out of the vicious cycle of ALWAYS going to Overflow. Let me state for the record that Toxaway and Overflow were checked first, and since neither were running, Stekoa was our last option short of a long drive to the Smokies. Anyway, the death cave, sieve rapid has a very clear, albeit very narrow line through it that does NOT feed the cave, sieve. Yes it is a mean looking rapid, but a great example of a rapid where you have to drive toward the thing you want to avoid in order to avoid it. What? In order to avoid the cave, on the approach, you have to drive toward the cave, because when you crest the top of the wave that guards the cave, there is a tongue that bypasses the cave. If you try to stay too far right of the cave, there is a ledge with a hole, kicker wave that throws you into the cave. Anyway, the moral is, sometimes you have to go toward that which scares you in order to find the safe way. I could very easily start preaching about giving your life to Christ, but I will save that for River Fellowship (1st Sunday of every month at Woodall Shoals 8 am, 2nd Sunday of every month, Green Narrows take-out 9 am). To sum up, lower Stekoa is fun, big, somewhat stinky, a lot of work if you are not willing to run the big ones, but definitely rewarding. PS paddling Lake Tugaloo with hand paddles is less than enjoyable. Happy boating and may you find the joy of knowing Christ as you enjoy His handiwork.

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Robert Maxwell
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12 years ago

I painted a paddler's gage on the new Hwy 441 south bound bridge over Stekoa on 7/14/07. To see it, you'll need to park on Rickman Airfield Road, carefully cross 441 to the median between the north and south bound bridges. The gage is on the South bound bridge river right, downstream pilon. Please report your levels and low, medium and high info so we can dial this gage in and develop a correlation. E-mail info to me at h2olevelcheck@hotmail.com. -- Thanx -- Rob Maxwell

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Chris Gorman
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15 years ago

We hiked up this from the chattooga on Sunday May 2, 2004. It was a pretty good medium level. The chattooga was only about 1.7 (it had just rained the night before). But the last mile or so into the chattooga is non-stop class 5. The entire section we looked at had undercuts, sieves, caves and potholes everywhere and there were very small pools in between the drops. You can hike/wade/climb up the creek on the river right side but it isn

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wreeves
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16 years ago

I have run this whenthe Chattooga was 2 feet and would warn against rushing to jump on the creek at extreamly high water. Several Southeastern Guides said 1.9 on the Chattooga was a good minimum. At levels near 3 feet or higher you could easily not be able to stop at the big rapids and find yourself as a greasy spot on some rocks at the bottom of the big waterfall.

Gage Descriptions

Look for the Chattooga to be over 2 feet, or after a good rain.  Stekoa Creek will rise faster than Chattooga so it could be running when Chattooga is lower than 2 feet, but if under 2 feet after some rain.

 

There is a paddler's gage on East Wolf Creek road off of 76 east on the the river right side of bridge with 1.0 feet being a minimum, and not sure what for a maximum.  But I would advice getting on Stekoa Creek much above 2 to 3 feet on wolf creek bridge gage.  Yes the Upper 4 miles would be better, but the lower mile before the Chattooga would be very difficult and hard to stop.

 

 
 
 
 
Robert Maxwell shared:

I painted a paddler's gage on the new Hwy 441 southbound bridge over Stekoa on 7/14/07. To see it, you'll need to park on Rickman Airfield Road, carefully cross 441 to the median between the north and southbound bridges. The gage is on the southbound bridge river right, downstream pilon. Please report your levels and low, medium and high info so we can dial this gage in and develop a correlation. E-mail info to me at h2olevelcheck@hotmail.com. -- Thanx -- Rob Maxwell

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Directions Description


The logical and easiest shuttle for this run is to put on at either Timber Bluff Road off of 76, or at the pull off of East Wolf Creek Road where the river leaves the road.  The take out that is the easiest to access if coming from Atlanta or Clayton would be to take out at Camp Creek which is about 2 miles down the Chattooga from where Stekoa Creek flows in and is above the Five Falls.  The other Shuttle option is to use the standard Chattooga take-out for section four which includes the infamous 2 mile lake paddle to the Tugaloo Lake Boat Ramp.  The Camp Creek take-out is a parking lot on river right about two thirds of a mile off the river. The trail is similar in length and steepness to the trail at Woodall Shoals. Using this option knocks off about 30 miles of shuttle. 
 

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Matt Muir

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1190295 12/28/08 n/a n/a