Chattooga River Photo, North Georgia Mountains.

Chattooga River, whitewater paradise, Jawbone Rapid, Five Falls area, Georgia - South Carolina Border

Hey Folks,

I’ll maybe try to get one more post in here before I hit the road, so I’ll do 2 for today. This is a photo from the past. I’ve been catching up on some editing and web updates he last few weeks here, and haven’t really got out to shoot too much. As a result of that, I’ll try to post a couple of shots from years gone by that I like – and maybe even post a few of the countless thousands I didn’t like. 🙂 This photo was from an overnight trip a couple of years ago to the Chattooga River in north east Georgia. The Chattooga River defines the border between Georgia and South Carolina, and lies between the Sumter , Nantahala and Chattahoochee National Forests.

Congress designated the Chattooga River a “Wild and Scenic River” in 1974, and I’d attest to that designation. It’s both wild and scenic! The designation protects a corridor along the river for nearly 60 miles, though it’s somewhat silly – part of the river is designated as ‘wild’, part is ‘scenic’, and part of it is ‘recreational; how wonderful is bureaucracy? The law should actually be called the “Wild OR Scenic Rivers Act’. It’s great that finally (the law came to be in the late 60’s I think) rivers were given some protections from the rampant destruction that we call ‘development’, but it’s a relatively minor protection- only 160 rivers in all the US have been designated so far – less than one quarter of one percent. The actual wording of the “Wild and Scenic Rivers’ Act is similarly lame – how anyone can actually say ‘preserved in their free-flowing condition and are not damned or otherwise improved’ is beyond me. The act states:

“a policy that would preserve other selected rivers or sections thereof in their free-flowing condition to protect the water quality of such rivers”

– this actually recognizes the fact that impeding the flow of rivers is detrimental to water quality! And yet, how many dams exist in the US? 10 000? 20 000? 50 000? Uh uh .. more than 60 000 large and small dams have cut off the flow of rivers all across the country. Sixty Thousands dams – that’s an awful lot. So, let’s pay homage to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and thank those with the sense to protect at least something – less than one quarter of one percent is surely better than nothing.

The total area of the Chattooga River corridor is only about 16 000 acres, and it runs through the Ellicott Rock Wilderness. The watershed for much of the river includes Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Known mostly today for its incredible whitewater kayaking and rafting runs, the river is one of the few undammed rivers in the southeastern USA. A day on the river is unlike many of the other rivers in the region because the only roads in the area cross it, rather than parallel the river. There is excellent hiking and backpacking in the hills and mountains here, though people should be careful when close to the water – it can be dangerous, even at low water, and caution should be taken. Similarly with kayakers on the water, the river, particularly the lower Five Falls area consists of some rowdy and gnarly rapids, names like Entrance, Corkscrew, Crack in the Rock, Jawbone (shown here) and Sock-em Dog. These rapids are have a bunch of nasty hydraulics and underwater traps called ‘undercuts’, and they’re quite dangerous – more than a couple of people have died in this section. Serious Class IV and V boaters only. The gradient drop of the Five Falls run is approximately 300′ per mile, which means the water’s fast and powerful.

The Chattooga River is home to some fine trout fishing, and I’ve spent more than one night cooking fresh fish over a fire on it’s sandy banks. There are a number of great walks in the area, but none finer than simply following the shore up, or downstream. Campsites abound, but because the area gets a lot of visitation, it’s important to tread lightly.

I do love the southeastern Appalachian forests, and hiking and exploring the Chattooga River area is some of my favorite hiking in that region. In the spring the blooms of mountain laurel and rhododendron can be pretty intense, and are well worth checking out. So here’s to you, Chattooga River!



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