Just outside of Clayton, GA on the GA/SC border lurks a whitewater enthusiast’s gem: The Chattooga River, filming site of the movie Deliverance and site of some of the best whitewater in the eastern part of the country. The Sidekick, myself, and one of our other friends spent a week in the Clayton, GA area during the early June week of 2018.
There are several outfitters who run this part of the Chattooga, with runs on what is referred to as Section III and Section IV. We chose Southeastern Expeditions, due to proximity. If you choose Section III, it’s a shorter time commitment and more family friendly. Section IV on the other hand is super awesome, classified as advanced, a full 5 -6 hours on the rive,r and has some of the best rapids around, including the last half mile which runs 5 consecutive Class IV and V rapids. This is a normal river, and spring time is the peak whitewater, normally.
‘As you can see from the video above it was not a beautiful sunny day! But it was exciting as hell! After the fear inducing safety speech and waiver signing absolving the company from any liability from your potential death we were off to the put in spot. When we got into the water our guide, an “older” dude named Link or it might have been Lynk was our guide. He actually seemed to be the lead guide and really knew what he was doing. Most of the other guides were kids in their early 20s it looked. I prefer the old farts who really know the rivers! Anyway, as we began he snuck a peek at the river guage. I don’t remember exactly what the numbers were but he said we were JUST under the cutoff when they have to shut down the river! There had been a lot of rain in the days leading up running off into the river!
The first big waterfall is the third spot on the map above, called the 7 Foot Falls. It was at these point that I think we all kind knew we were in for a crazy trip! I was in the front right, the Sidekick was front left, and our friend Katie was on the left in the back and she got smashed up pretty good on the rocks on the side as we went over this waterfall. There were some more rapids, a stop on the side of the river to check out a waterfall in the woods. Part of the trip including a provided lunch on the rocks along the river. Scary moment here as a kayaker came over the this waterfall section and got stuck in a hole between some rocks. The guides tried to throw ropes to him, but we were all on the opposite bank and so he was on his own, scary moment, but the kayaker got out of it finally!
If you take a peek at that map up above you can see there are a handful of rapids in very quick succession. This spot is called the 5 Falls. It is roughly somewhere between a quarter and a half mile long and includes rapids called Entrance, Corkscrew, Crack in the Rock, Jawbone, and Soc-em-dog. These are all normally rated as IV and IV+ but the guide said with the water level they were all Vs that day! The full version of my video of these rafting experience is found below, and about half of it is the Five Falls area. Jaw bone the one with two guides in the raft, and Soc-em-Dog is the one that almost took my head off, although it looks much more tame on camera!
Overall impressions: Pros: Awesome fun! Beautiful scenery. No too far from places in the eastern part of the country, especially if you are visiting the Smoky Mountains or Asheville. Cons: You could die. This river has killed many people, so if you choose the hard section definitely be prepared!
The Adventurer Final Word: