Everything you need to know about the Wild & Scenic Chattooga River in Georgia and South Carolina

Becky WiseChattooga River

Chattooga River Wildwater

Wild and Scenic Chattooga River
There are few experiences as fun as slipping into the current of a classic river run.  Whether you’re into frothing white water or tempting wild trout with a well-placed fly, spending time on a river is time well spent.

As one of the few rivers in the world protected under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the Chattooga River provides a unique experience flowing through a protected wilderness corridor for 59 miles along the Georgia/South Carolina border in the southern Appalachian Mountains.

The Chattooga River is legendary for its intense rapids and rugged scenery and abounds with untouched wilderness, incredible sights as the gorge walls rise above you, and exciting rapids full of drops and whitewater!  The Chattooga, divided into 3 raftable sections, is a free flowing river and water levels are subject to seasonal rainfall. Generally, spring trips will be fast and wild, where late summer early fall trips will be less intense.

Section II: Class I-II
Section 2, just under 8 miles long, is a Class II scenic float trip great for canoeing, beginner kayakers, and tubing.  Big Shoals is the largest rapid and is easily scouted and portaged.  This is also a very popular stretch for fishing and hiking.  The put-in is located at the Hwy. 28 bridge with the take-out at Earl’s Ford.

Chattooga River Rafting - WildwaterSection III: Class II-III+(IV)
The 13 mile family friendly Section 3 begins at Earl’s Ford with several class II- III rapids (Dick’s Creek Falls, the Narrows, 2nd Ledge, Rock Garden, Roller Coaster and Painted Rock) to get you warmed up for the famous Bull Sluice, a class IV rapid located at the end of Section 3, just above the Hwy. 76 bridge take-out.  The outfitter Section 3 trip puts in around mile 8 and actually includes the first 2 miles of Section 4.  When the water is very high, trips may move upstream and run more of the Section 3 stretch.

Chattooga River, Section IVSection IV: Class II-IV+
If you’re more of a thrill seeker, Section 4 is the trip for you.  The warm-up for a day on Section 4 include class II- III rapids (Surfing Rapid, Screaming Left Turn, Rock Jumble and Woodall Shoals) before getting to 7- Foot Falls.  Continuing downstream you will meet up with Deliverance Rock and Raven’s Cliff before heading into the Chattooga’s infamous Five Falls rapids (Entrance, Corkscrew, Crack in the Rock, Jawbone, Soc ’em Dog) to finish off this fast and intense whitewater run.  A leisurely 2 mile trip across Lake Tugaloo takes you to the take-out.

50 Years of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
In 2018, America will celebrate 50 years of setting aside these incredible waterways for the enjoyment of all.  It started with eight rivers in 1968 and today the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act protects over 200 stretches of river in 40 states and Puerto Rico.   It was when President Carter first paddled the Chattooga River that he began to understood the power and majesty of a wild, free-flowing stream.  In 1974 Carter successfully pushed to designate 57 miles of the Chattooga as Wild & Scenic, permanently protecting it from development and dams.  This protection also prevents vehicles from driving right to the river except at Hwy. 28 and 76 bridges.  This also means that boaters, fishermen & hikers have to make a 1/4 mile hike to many of the access points.

The Wild President from NRS Films on Vimeo.

Wildwater Offerings at the Chattooga
Wildwater offers Chattooga River trips on Section 3 and Section 4.  After rafting, you may want to dry off and check out our canopy tours!  At our highest point on the course you can see mountains from North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina.  There is nothing quite like getting a full bird’s eye view of the forest ecosystem on our Chattooga zipline canopy tour from sky bridges, tree platforms, and ziplines.

Still not enough?  Try some of our other adventures.  Challenge yourself for our high ropes and rock wall, great for team building or join us on a kayak or SUP tour on Lake Tugaloo.  Our guides will assure your safety, inform you about the nature and history of the area, and coach you on how to have the most fun possible!

We want you to feel at home with Wildwater lodging, whether that be in one of our luxurious vacation cabins, a cozy cottage, or our group yurts!  We have plenty of options to make your vacation as extraordinary as you want.  Don’t forget to take advantage of our discounts when you combine two or more activities!