Toccoa, Georgia, US
Deep Hole Recreation Area to Sandy Bottoms
||I-II(III) (for normal flows)
Margret DriftsPhoto of shoals below the bridge by Paintball Dave (the Assassin) taken long ago @ around 300 cfs
Toccoa near Dial
350 - 10000 cfs
The Toccoa and the Ocoee are the same river; it is the "Toccoa" from its headwaters on the Blue
Ridge in Georgia until it crosses north into Tennessee.
This is the official Forest Service "Toccoa River Canoe Trail" which runs from Deep Hole campground
down to Sandy Bottoms. Rapids are class I-II with one set in the middle that approaches class III.
Butt Bridge and Toccoa Valley Campground offer alternate takeouts and shorter runs; 8 miles and 11
miles respectively. There is a good fisherman's parking lot on Dial Road about a mile below Butt
Bridge - neither of the bridges afford great parking opportunities. There is NO access in the
5-mile wilderness section between Margret and Butt Bridge, so bring extra food & water, first aid
kit, footgear etc and be prepared as if you were hiking the backcountry.
It's a spectacular all-day wilderness cruising section or 2-day overnighter and a good training run
for intermediate paddlers. Spud kayakers will have not much fun as there are some very long
stretches of slack water. Take the long boat if you are planning to kayak this one, or be prepared
to do a lot of tedious wallowing along. There is no park-and-play worth mentioning on this
The river runs close along state highway 60 a couple miles from Deep Hole to the town of Margret,
then heads west into the National Forest around the back side of Tooni Mountain. The next few miles
are dense wilderness with no easy access in or out. Midway, the Benton MacKaye hiking trail crosses
the river over a suspension footbridge. A set of class II-III drops separated by wide eddies starts
under the bridge and continues for a couple hundred yards through a shallow gorge. This rapid is
known locally as "the Margret Drifts" - look out for driftwood. You may not notice the bridge
coming up until you are there, due to thick woods, but it can be spotted if you look ahead as you
approach down a long westerly straightaway. Find the clearings along the right or left bank just
upstream and pull out to scout. Scouting is difficult to impossible from the riverbanks. It's a
messy riverbed portage if you elect to walk it, forget trying to get down on the banks; the woods
are thick, steep and virtually trailless adjacent to the rapids. Best scouting overlook is on the
bridge (see photos). There are good campsites here if you want to stay overnite. You can hike the
trail back to highway 60 a few miles to the north to get out if necessary. It is difficult, but not
impossible, to haul back up to the bridge once you've run down the ledges, if you wanted to do
multiple runs whilst camping. Look out for snakes.
A few miles on, the river leaves the National Forest, continues through some scenic farm country,
under a couple of backroad bridges, through some more pasture, finally past the Toccoa Valley
campground on the left, then to Sandy Bottoms another mile or two beyond. Whitewater throughout
this pleasant piece is limited to pretty small stuff; relax and enjoy the float.
There was a river-use conflict with a landowner below Margret in 2003 which is mostly settled but
this depends on the responsible behavior of boaters. Fishing rights are still disputed. The Forest
Service has very clearly marked the disputed 3000 feet of riverfront with many obvious large signs,
and another pair of signs at the downstream end lets you know that you are re-entering the National
Forest (where once again you can basically raise hell and do as you please). While boating through
the private property please:
1> Do not trespass or set foot on the private land.
2> Do not fish.
3> Keep the noise down.
4> Be courteous to the landowner and his friends.
Please help promote community awareness of landowner rights issues.
Also see River Reach #4320
shorter, more populated, easier access, beautiful & fun.
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2006-10-04 23:56:08