There are a handful of places that we repeatedly visit and we’re continually mesmerized. The Chattooga River is one of those places. Creating a windy border between Georgia and South Carolina, the river is the only designated Wild and Scenic River in South Carolina. Lush forests, powerful rocks, and rolling mountains surround the river to create an oasis away from society.
Protected land preserves both sides of the Chattooga River and is maintained by the US Forest Service. The area serves as a melting pot for all types of outdoor recreation. The river has a mixture of flat and white water that feeds into Lake Tugaloo. When navigating the river, it is always best to go with someone who knows the water and is familiar with the dangerous sections. Incorrectly reading the water can cause potentially fatal accidents.
The most popular way to explore the Chattooga River is by boat. Section I and Section II of the Chattooga River are primarily flat water with the occasional class one and two rapids. We have canoed this section and it was a relaxing paddle with bouts of excitement. The class two rapids in this section did require some tricky navigation. Section III and Section IV of the Chattooga river are loved by avid whitewater boaters – kayakers, canoers, and rafters. These sections contain class three and four rapids. We have paddle some of these sections and loved every minute, but it is not for the faint of heart and should only be attempted by experienced boaters. Never underestimate the force of water.
In addition to boating, the Chattooga river is one of the premier fly fishing rivers in the southeast. The river is home to both wild and stocked, brook and rainbow trout. Sections I and II are best for fishing due to the slower currents. The river can get crowded, but if you are willing to do some hiking, then you will have the fish to yourself.
Speaking of hiking, the Chattooga River Trail is a 15.5 mile hiking trail along the upper section of the river. The trail wanders along the South Carolina side of the river and passes impressive waterfalls. There are designated and unofficial campsites along the trail. Burrell’s Ford Campground has an abundance of campsites that are maintained by the Forest Service. The majority of sites offer privacy and are large enough for groups. The campground is a short hike from the parking area, which deters extravagant car campers, but is still convenient.
Regardless of how you spend your time at the Chattooga, it is guaranteed to be memorable. After the first visit, you will be back time and time again.