Canoeing, by Bob Sehlinger and Don Otey (Hillsborough, North Carolina:
Menasha Ridge Press, 1980) is the best guide. It is especially helpful
because it indicates minimum flows at various river and stream gaging
stations. Brown’s Guide to the Georgia Outdoors, edited by John
W. English (Atlanta: Cherokee Publishing Company, 1986) is also helpful.
You can run the
Toccoa below the dam, but please be aware of your level of skill and
the release schedule. There may not be enough water when the TVA is
not releasing, and the water is very swift when the TVA is releasing.
You can access the release schedule at www.tva.gov
(click on “Lake Info”). Note that the release schedule is
subject to change without notice, and be prepared. You can put in just
below the dam at a public access area and take out at Horseshoe Bend
Park, off Hwy 60 just south of McCaysville.
The river gage for
the Toccoa above the dam is accessed off Aska Road. Cross the Shallowford
Bridge, turn right, and go right at the first fork. The gage is shortly
after the road comes down to the river again. Sehlinger and Otey consider
the river runnable from .7 to 6 feet, but in my experience, a reading
at this gage of 2.5 to 3.5 is necessary for sufficient flow. You can
also access stream flows in cubic feet per second on the TVA site www.tva.gov
(clicking on “Lake Info” and then “Valley Stream Flows”).
My observations indicate that 1000 cfs equals about 3 feet on the gage,
and that 800 cfs would be about 2.5 feet. If anyone has similar correlations
for other streams, please email me with that info.
A good put in point
is at the Deep Hole Campground, off Hwy 60 south. There is a small parking
fee. For progressively shorter trips, you can also put in at the Rock
Creek Bridge (off 60 south), at Margaret (where 60 south runs close
to the river, steep bank), at the Butt Bridge off Doublehead Gap Road
(218) (access directly next to bridge, somewhat steep), or at the Dial
Bridge (end of Aska Road, left on Newport, somewhat steep).
The best take out
points are either at Sandy Bottoms, the forest service facility on Old
Dial Road (above the river gage) or a little downstream on the same
road, upstream of the Shallowford Bridge and the cabins near it. (Note
that there are some rapids and a drop a short distance below the bridge,
where Aska Road comes close to the river and then curves away from it.
This site is known locally as as "the Rock," and it is private
property.) I usually take out just before the island that's a short
distance upstream of the bridge, because I usually take on a lot of
water passing by the island.
The mileage, according
to the forest service, is: Deep Hole to Rock Creek, 1.5. Rock Creek
to Margaret, 1. Margaret to Butt Bridge, 5.8. Butt Bridge to Dial Bridge,
1.5. Dial Bridge to Sandy Bottoms, 4.
The Forest Service
(on the four-lane across from the Ingles shopping center) has a free
map/guide, titled “Toccoa River Canoe Trail.”