A series of ledges with interesting, Chattooga-like channels. Some pretty good play spots. Optimum line is to enter close to the right bank, then work across the ledges to the final chute on river left. Plenty of eddies.
Great trip yesterday!
5 of us made the paddle from Deep Hole to Doublehead gap yesterday. Flow was perfect at about 970cfs. Be careful there are four trees completely accross the river. The first is just after the fish hatchery bridge, then another just a little bit down past there, then another a half mile down and the last just after you enter the National Forest area before the swinging bridge. We portaged all four of the strainers.
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I guess finding useful, relialbe information on the internet isn't hopeless after all.
At 228-250 cfs, will this be a miserable ride in a kayak?
I'm planning a trip for May 17th or 18th. Is anyone else going to be on the river then?
A canoe should be fine. A canoe with a keel might not be the best choice, but even that should be OK, as long as you have some river experience (the keel makes it difficult to quickly turn the canoe - very important in fast water). 400cfs is fine, any less and I'd think twice, expecially if you've never done this section before. I've done it at 335, but it wasn't fun. If you put in at Deep Hole by 9 am, you'll make it to Sandy Bottom in plenty of time to make it to the Toccoa Riverside Restaurant for an early dinner. Please remember that you will be out in the wilderness for most of the trip. No cellphone service, and a VERY long hike. Take friends in a second canoe in case you have problems. But definately worth the trip!
i am thinking of paddling this when i take a trip up to the area in a few weeks. if anyone can answer a few questions i have, it would be great.
my basic questions are what kind of boat do i need to paddle this? i have a canoe, is that sufficient (assuming 400 CFS)
Kayaked from Deep Hole to Sandy Bottoms over the weekend with friends and had a great run. Thanx to heavy rains recently the river was well over 900cfs...probably closer to 1000cfs. Not much time to relax as the water was moving pretty quick almost the entire way. The 5-6 hour trip most people report took us less than 4 hours from launch to packed up and driving back to the campground....and we stopped for lunch at the suspension bridge. This was my first run on the Toccoa so I'm not sure what it's normally like but at this level it's fast and choppy almost the whole way. You will want to stop at the suspension bridge and check out the rapids downstream. We started just to the right of center as we crossed under the bridge and crossed to river left in order to avoid a rather intimidating rapid on the right. That was as far as we could see from the bridge. There are plenty of rapids beyond your line of sight from the bridge but with this flow all lines seemed pretty good. At this level I don't really think this run is good for a beginner unless you have a really stable boat and someone experienced along to help out. I don't think there were any really tricky spots or dangerous rapids but if you flip the swift current makes it difficult to get to shore, retrieve lost gear or even find a dry spot to empty your boat and get back in again. With that said, the 5 of us had a great run, although, everyone agreed it would have been nice if the flow was down a bit so that there was time to just float and enjoy the scenery. For those interested...we paddled 2 Dagger Crossfires, 2 Wilderness Systems Tsunamis and an Old Town recreation kayak.
Paddled Dial Bridge to Shallowford Bridge May 24, took around 2 hours. Probably 350-375 cfs. There are a couple of small ledges (2 ft.) that were fun to navigate in a canoe.
Ran it on 5/15 at a little under 500 cfs. Very nice, smooth all the way except for the one tree accross the river just above the Drifts. Got to see some great wildlife this time too - turtles, trout, and even a bald eagle. Got to see some trouser trout as well. Now is a great time to run this river while the water is still up. - Austin
Sorry Wesley, I didn't see your note until we returned. I hope you were able to go.
My group put in at Deep Hole on Tuesday, May 5th, with the water level around 500 cfs. Within 100 yards, the other canoe had already flipped (yes, we laughed). After we got them emptied out and going again, the dangers still lurked. About 30 minutes later, a goose, apparently upset at us for doing nothing more than drifting with the current, decided to charge the other boat (same guys that had just gotten dunked). We assumed it had a nest nearby, but we didn't see it.
We managed to escape the clutches of the angry waterfowl, and continued our journey. There was one downed log a short distance before the swinging bridge, but due to the higher water levels, we managed to slide across the top of it (along the left side). At normal water levels, I'm sure it will be a problem.
We stopped at the Swinging Bridge for lunch, and also noted the "No Camping" signs on the left bank. We did not check the right bank. We scouted the shoals, both from atop the bridge and along the left bank. The second canoe was fairly inexperienced, and they were concerned about making it through safely, so they decided to portgage around. My partner and I decided to give it a shot, and somehow made it through with our dignity intact.
The remainder of the trip was uneventful, other than enjoying the rapid water flow (we averaged about 4.8mph for the entire trip). We did encounter an unmarked cable strung across the river about 3/4 of the way to Sandy Bottom. At normal river levels, it won't be a problem, but anything a foot or two higher than we had and it might catch an unsuspecting canoist in the head.
I warned the second canoe as we approached the takeout at Sandy Bottom, and suggested they stay close to the right bank (the water gets a little bumpy for the last 100 yards, and if you're on the left bank, you might have difficulty reaching the takeout). Sure enough, they blasted though a chute, and managed to turn sideways on a rock, swamping the canoe again! I laughed so hard I cried.
Due to the high water levels, we managed the trip in four hours exactly. We all had a wonderful trip (except for the bruised egos in the second canoe!) and can't wait to plan another trip.
my name is wesley and me and some friends are also interested in getting it on on this river on tuesday may 5th 2009 please either email me or call and maybe we can rendezvous near the river we live in nashville tn so it may be a a drive for us but its my birthday so we are definitely wanting to get on the river my phone number is 6155570030 or my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well, it looks like my trip is still on. I've got 3 buddies plus myself looking to do a single day trip around May 5th. Anyone else going to be around then?
It doesn't look like there will be much chance for rain between now and then, but hopefully the water levels will hold.....
Austin, how did your trip go? I was hoping to do an overnight trip in early May, but my co-workers are wimping out on me. So, we're scaling back and looking at a single day excursion. I'd appreciate some recent river conditions. Water levels are really looking nice so far.
Kevin: Austin, I'd have to say go for it. It's gonna be low, but as my post says below, me and my girlfriend ran it in a fully loaded tandom canoe last year in the summer time with a max CFS of 170. It was a chore, but we still managed to have fun. If you're gonna run it, do it now. The flows will be dismal as summer draws nearer, and your only hope then will be to get lucky and catch it after a bunch of rain. At least now it's staying consistently at around 300, which is doable but not ideal.
The river might be passable at 300 cfs or so in an unloaded kayak, but I wouldn't try it any lower than that. I have run it at 335 in a loaded canoe, and it was tough. I really miss the days of it regularly running 350+......
I'm planning another overnight trip in mid May. Hopefully we'll get plenty of rain between now and then.
Austin: Kevin, a couple friends and I are thinking about making an overnight trip on the Toccoa in early April. In its current condition, do you think it's runnable in single kayaks?
Kevin: For some reason this river is in a black hole and can't get any rainwater. While all rivers have suffered, I've watched all manner of rivers get runnable flows within the course of the year but this one seems to be among the worse hurt by the drought. I can't wait for the Toccoa to get some water because it's one of the most peaceful rivers in north Ga.
You're braver than I am! The last time I canoed this section (with camping gear - about 2 years ago), it was around 335 cfm, and I thought that was marginal at best. I had hoped to do this section again this week, but not with the water this low.
Instead, I canoed the section from the Lake Blue Ridge dam downstream (north) to Copper Hill, TN. There is a small park right at the state line with a boat ramp. The trip took about 5 hours, but was very rocky for the first 3 hours or so. It seemed the water level was a little lower than "normal", even though it is controlled by the dam.
Me and my girlfriend just did a two day camping run on this through the national wilderness part in a 1980 Mad River canoe with about 130 pounds of gear. This was at a level extremely low; I'm thinking 170 cfs at the very best. But even though the trip was hard work, I'll still have to qualify this as one of the best wilderness excursions I've had in a long time. It's technical to run this tandom with gear, but it can be done as long as you accept you'll have to walk your boat off rocks not too infrequently. No tree barriers are impassible unless you're in a large boat. The rapids are entry level, but I would recommend at least one person on the trip to have experience, because this could give the casual float trip seeker a really long day. If you're looking for some great Georgia scenery and wilderness, then take the trip. Just be prepared for the hard work ahead.
I HAVE CAMPED QUITE A FEW TIME'S ON THIS RIVER AND HAVE HAD NOTHING BUT GREAT TIME'S. I HAVE FLOATED IT SEVERAL TIMES TO AND THAT WAS A LOT OF FUN TO. WHEN THE RIVER IS LOW THINGS GET SLOW..LOL! BUT IT IS STILL WONDERFUL! THANKS TO TOCCOA VALLEY CAMPGROUND FOR OFFERING A GREAT PLACE TO CAMP. STEVE
I"m planning another overnight trip on this section in June. Has anyone been down the river lately? I haven't seen any trip reports in a long time.
This is a beautiful run for a family overnighter or long full day adventure.Is it even runable at 200 cfs with gear for a camp-out?I guess we'll chance it!!
Took several buddies from work down this section of the river (Deep Hole to Sandy Bottom) May 29-30, and camped at the swinging bridge. Water level was around 335 cfs or so. I was a little worried but, despite a few scrapes over some rocks early on, we didn't have any real problems due to the low water level (of course, it would have helped if we hadn't lugged so much gear in the canoes!).
Found some serious littering from previous campers at the bridge. We cleaned up what we could. Otherwise, the entire trip was almost pristine.
The deadfall Rick mentioned, just past the bridge, was easily passible by ducking under it. At higher water levels, it will cause problems, but portaging should be fairly easy there.
This section can be done in 2 very easy days, or even in one day if you're in a hurry (maybe 8 hrs?). During our trip, water averaged 3-4 mph most places, 4-5 in some.
New deadfall (red oak with leaves still green) all the way across the river about a half mile downriver of the swinging bridge and Margret Drifts. Passable only at left bank. At low level today (about 360 cfs), canoes had about 6" headroom after ducking. If water higher, portage on left bank looks fairly easy.
NEW HAZARD NOTED 3/2006: downed tree across river between Deep Hole and Margret. May be skidded across at mean water level.
The Toccoa is a beautiful river with some great camping spots along the way, do be careful for nearly half of the river banks are privatley owned and there have been reports of owners with shotguns. Watch out for fisherman, sometimes they are hiding in nice eddy's hidden by the rocks. Generally this is a great river for people that are just starting out. A word of caution, in a matter of minutes (what feels like minutes) this river can scare up some nasty rapids if it starts to rain hard. I found myself going over margret drifts for the second time in a week.. only this time it had started raining within a half hour of puting in at Deep Hole. MD went from a regular class II rapid with some nice lines to a bucking menace with some deep holes and lines that run you into log jams on the right side. Other wise this river is absolutely a pleasure, and I know I will be going back.
A special thanks to the Forest Ranger that is in charge of Deep Hole, he was able to help us in ways that no one else could. :)
The rapid located under the swinging bridge (referred to as MacKaye Bridge Rapid) is locally known as the Margret Drifts.
Ran it 9/11/2004 with 12 members of GCA at 400 cfs. Two days previous it was at 1400 cfs following Hurricane Frances. I imagine the bridge rapids were quite a bit gnarlier then. It probably comes up as quickly as it goes down with rain, so be on your toes. Big thanks to Margo and Jimmy Booth for their kind hospitality and know-how.
6 years ago
by Mike Powers
9 years ago
by Sam Smith
10 years ago
TVA gauge for Toccoa at Dial.
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scouting campground for rapid
Put in at Deep Hole
Sandy Bottom Rapids
Toccoa footbridge Rapids
Margret Drifts below the bridge
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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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