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Georgia Natural Wonder #175 - Dog River - Douglas County (Part 3)
December 29, 2020 05:50PM

Georgia Natural Wonder #175 - Dog River - Douglas County (Part 3)

For our third Natural Wonder of Douglas County, we come to the western edge. The Dog River is a 15.7-mile-long river in Georgia. The river rises south of Villa Rica in Carroll County, flows east into Douglas County, then turns southeastward into Dog River Reservoir.

The reservoir, completed in 1992, impounded 1.2 billion gallons of water before the dam and water level were increased in 2009. The reservoir serves as a water source for Douglas County. After leaving the reservoir, the Dog River flows into the Chattahoochee River.

2009 flooding

In September 2009, the Dog River watershed, along with most of northern Georgia, experienced heavy rainfall. The Dog River, overwhelmed by large amounts of runoff from saturated ground in the basin, experienced massive flooding. The river crested at 33.83 feet and had a peak discharge of 59,900 cubic feet per second, nearly six times the 100-year flood level.

One of the ten deaths associated with the floods in Georgia occurred in the Dog River.

A Carroll County resident, Debbie Hooper, was killed when her Jeep Cherokee was swept off the road by floodwaters.

Dog River Park/Reservoir

Originally built for county residents only, Dog River Reservoir offers activities such as fishing, boating, and paddling. Anglers beware, there is a strict catch-and-release policy on the lake.

Stocked with large-mouth bass, shell crackers (also known as bluegill) channel and mud cat, or flat head catfish, black crappie, carp, sunfish, bream and bass.

No boats longer than 16 feet or gasoline-powered boats are allowed on the lake for water-quality purposes.

For whitewater paddling, head to Dog River, which feeds into the reservoir, where rafters encounter Class II, III and some Class IV sections of whitewater just waiting for the brave of heart. Head to Georgia Route 5 to put in for a seven-mile long whitewater section that ends at the reservoir.

Dog River Park & Trails

The Dog River Park is located in the southern part of the County off Georgia Highways 166 and 5. Douglas County recently acquired approximately 900 acres of land to protect the quality of its drinking water source (the Dog River), and to provide active and passive recreation for residents.

A two-mile stretch of the Dog River will be protected by low-impact use. This land, the future site of the Dog River Park, is very pristine and plays host to many large sculpted rocks.

All this underwater now as lake was filling in this image.

These rocks create scenic whitewater rapids and are very popular with local kayaks. The Dog River, a feeder into the Chattahoochee River, flows throughout the property. The natural beauty of this land will make an excellent passive recreational area.

Dog River Trail head

A trail head for the first trail segment of the park to be developed was opened in May of 2017. Amenities are all handicap-accessible and include:

Charcoal Fire Pit
Large Pavilion
Picnic Tables
Waterless Restroom

The pavilion is available on a first-come, first-served basis unless the shelter has been reserved.

Future Plans

There are future plans for more trails with trail heads, parking and public access to the river, plus some active recreational areas. With the acquisition of this land, Douglas County hopes to become more observant and more in tune with the nature around us.

If we can preserve native wildlife and plants in our parks, we can maintain the essential bond between people and nature.

Paddle Georgia

Well it rained like stink Friday, November 21, and the Dog River Reservoir Recreational Complex finally opened up to non-Douglas County
residents, so…. a bunch of us petted the hair of the Dog.

Hair of course is in the eyes of the beholder. The Dog is a nice intermediate creek run (under sane boating conditions). It is exceptionally beautiful, with little evidence of human intrusion and only minimal pollution.

The Dog starts small and easy and consistently increases in size and difficulty. From the put-in to the Georgia Highway 5 bridge are several class I rapids. Some acceptable surfing holes follow. Then, a couple miles into it, the Dog goes through several stages of steep rocky drops/large pools, followed by more steep drops and pools. These include some relatively technical class III rapids (class IV in high water).

The run is too long to describe (well anyway, my short-term memory sucks) and can change significantly according to water level. Scout the rapids from your boat, as some land owners can be very sensitive to trespassers walking on their land.

The white water run is divided by several islands; all should be run on the left, unless strainers are present. The Dog ends abruptly when the last class I rapid simply stops at the lake. It’s a short paddle to the park on lake right.

To get to the Dog, take I-20 west from I-85. Stay on I-20, past the Six Flags and Sweetwater exits, all the way into Douglas county. Take the Georgia Highway 5 exit. Turn left (south) when exiting and stay on Georgia 5 for some time. Eventually it becomes two lane, and a mile or so down will cross the Dog River at a bridge. This is an illegal put-in so don’t use it, but water height can be measured from here. The river must be at near flood or above to run. You can see one rapid from the bridge; if it looks bony, the river is too low; if the river is in the trees, it’s probably too high.

View from Highway 5.

Stay on Georgia 5 ’til Giles Road enters from the left. Take Giles Road and when it ends on Banks Mill Road turn right. Stay on Banks Mill Road till you reach a large bridge. This is the put-in.

Below Highway 5. You can see where the flood damaged trees along creek.

To get to the take-out, go back to Georgia 5 and turn right. Stay on Georgia 5 till it crosses Georgia 166. Turn left and stay on Georgia 166. You will see a sign for The Douglas County Water & Sewer Authority - Dog River Reservoir Recreational Complex. You must make a tricky tight left U-turn to enter. If you come to a lake you have gone too far. Well maybe not.

The Complex will be closed from Thanksgiving to February 20 (prime creeking season). It is technically possible to take out on the right side of the bridge, but the legality is questionable. So it might be prudent not to park at the bridge, but instead park on the road.

Dog River Reservoir.

The Dog River Reservoir Recreational Complex is open from 07:00 until dusk. It is a well managed, exceptionally nice facility. It is not cheap! At present fees are $5.00 per person, $5.00 per boat, and $5.00 for parking. BEER IS NOT ALLOWED!!! However, because it’s short, you can do the river a couple times and fees are good for all day.

Dog River - American Whitewater

River Description

Put-in on Georgia Hwy 5, or one mile upstream at Banks Mill Rd. Take-out is the Dog River Reservoir at Hwy 166. The takeout is open from March thru November.

The Dog River is a good piece of whitewater if you are a Douglasville Resident. For the rest of us its an exercise in bureaucracy. Until 1992 the take-out was at Hwy 166. Then Douglas County built the reservoir. For a time you could not use the takeout/boat ramp on the reservoir unless you were a Douglas county resident. The current status is somewhat in limbo.

Now for more bad news:

Evidently Douglas county needs more water. So the water level on the reservoir is being raised ten feet. This should occur sometime in 2006, shortly after the new bridge on Hwy 166 is completed.

The river itself is a class 3 run over bedrock ledges. At higher flows nearing flood stage it might bump up to class 4.

May 15, 2014

There's basically no information/photos on this run, so, here's a little more: We ran this today around 300 cfs on the correct gauge that you can find here.

The correct gauge is titled Dog River near Fairplay, Georgia. The river includes lots of class II stuff and a couple of class III's at this level. This was my first time down, and I was really impressed by the river. The rapids are fairly technical. There are a few longer set of rapids with lots of eddies, ledges, and some waves trains. It's not all drop and pool like many of the II-III rivers in GA. The river's a good time, when it's running. There is also about a mile of lake paddling at the end. Check out the video from a fella I know.

His video was shot at 265cfs on the water watch gauge. Update: There are now many videos of the Dog at low water (200-400 cfs) thanks to Josh Ames aka riversasquatch. The highest I've had the pleasure to run at has been a little over 500 cfs. The river is more pushy with bigger holes and waves, but nothing drastically different. Others I know have ran it up to 800 cfs (and once at 3600 cfs, which won't happen again). They reported much larger waves, holes, and push than at lower levels. The III+ rating is probably justified at these levels.

Mar 10, 2011

I took a trip down it yesterday. It was at a 1000 cfs which made it much more interesting then the lower levels I've done it at. I would go as far to say that some of it had me thinking class 4 and one hole that was worse than the hole on Woodall Shoals on the Chattooga. The hole is the next rapid past the little S turn (which at this level it wasn't an S turn anymore) by the beach/campfire area. A couple feet down stream right in line with the hole is a big undercut rock.

You can portage the hole on the left or right or run down river right side of it and take your chances with a couple sharp rocks. At 400cfs and lower you don't need to scout anything, unless you are newer to kayaking or just not that good. This is a great place to kayak if you want to see the damage done by the Nov. 2009 floods. There is a put in at the hwy 5 bridge its next to the bridge off the side of the road. If you don't want to pay at the take out, look at a road map, you'll figure something out. If your planning on making a trip down it and want someone else to go with you my email is [email protected] gmail.com, I'm local.

Nov 2, 2010

Alright... so I took my buddy who had never paddled a kayak before to the Dog River Reservoir today. Because there is hardly any information on this site or the internet (especially since the flood in '09), I will write as much as possible. First, we pulled into the reservoir parking lot. We had no plans of going down the actual river due to a lack of information on the rapids or dangers, so we paid $1 admission/person + $5 for each boat for access to the reservoir. I am not sure how the payments would work if you were merely pulling out at the reservoir. The park ranger was talking to us about the Dog River and how it is bull crap that it is good for kayaking. I think part of his rant on the inadequacies of the actual river was to keep kayakers away.

We put the kayaks in at the boat launch at the bottom of the hill and headed north toward the mouth of the river which was about a .5 miles up-current so it was a little tough. We made it up to the mouth and got out of our boats because there just wasn't enough water. The water level according to the gauge on this website read 7.3 cfs. However, there did seem to be some definite potential in the flow of the water around the rocks that this could be a pretty fun river at about 200- 500 cfs... I am not sure of the conversion into feet, but if there was about a foot of extra water, this would have been impossible to pass up dragging our boats on the rocks to get to a few of the chutes and drops that we walked to today.

This last section of rapids is named Zippy's Bender and with a 500 cfs I would have to say it would probably be class II+. However, with a lot more water, it would have been impossible to see the amount of trees and roots that had been deposited during the flood of '09, so it would be best to stay in your boat. Almost every rock looked to be undercut or at least pointing upstream... I am no expert, but I definitely would be a little insecure while running this with a lot of water.

We walked about a quarter-mile upstream and found a few more drops of 1-3 feet that had a surprising amount of water flowing through for such low reading in cfs. In this section of the river there is a large house up on the hill overlooking the river on the right. Seeing this house will represent the last section of rapids before the river empties into the reservoir.

There will then be another smaller house closer to the river on the right and during this section, you will want to stay left due to the undercut rocks that line the right hand side of the rapid. I am posting a couple pictures, so please take a look and if anyone is able to read rock structures, please let us know if there truly is potential to this section. I look forward to the next rainfall because I will definitely be trying it out.

The ranger told me that anybody that plans on parking at the reservoir has to be there by 12:00 or you will never make it back prior to them locking the gates at 6:00 or 7:00. He also said that the last day that the reservoir will be closed on November 20th and open back up in March. We drove past the HWY 5 put in and there looked to be a lot of water in that section but nowhere to park.

Feb 8, 2006

According to the new Georgia guidebook, as of 2005 its legal for non Douglas county folks to boat the reservoir. We paddled the dog on Feb 7, 2005 when Sweetwater was rising and close to 8 feet. The dog was at a nice medium level. I would have liked a little more water to pad things out some. The one rapid toward then end was getting into class 4 territory.

The boat ramp is presently closed from Nov1 to Mar 1. We paddled down to where they are doing bridge construction on hwy 166 and took out there with no problems. Dog is a good run when Sweetwater is starting to get up into the scary range.

Jun 11, 2011

You could hike from the 166 bridge in or drive in the headwaters end if you had 4 wheel drive and some clearance.Just west of this spot off a dirt road was the trail down to the old "beach" part of dog river. Some rapids...sand beach...and a deep fishing hole. Now underwater of the reservoir(Built by taxpayer funds). Annewakee Creek, Dog River, and the tract of woods around it make up some of the most beautiful landscape in the county. Thing is....the landowners surrounding that whole area were composed of old money Douglas County power brokers....Judges, DA, Dr's, etc and they were all from the original group of families that settled the county. This same group also owned the Douglas county hunt club property a few miles west on 166, the same group that permitted a wealthy, female, property owner to get the permits so she could rescue unwanted big cats from zoos.

Lions, Tigers, pumas, panthers numbering in the hundreds. I saw them with my own eyes. She spent millions for the fencing and the insurance etc...did everything the county asked. Then, after the downturn in the deer population started in the late 90's, and the prestigious DC hunt club had several slack harvests in a row, they decided the woman and her cats were to blame. She was forced to shutdown for some BS violation, but to the chagrin of hunt club, she had the money to stall in court by appeal long enough to turn loose a few here and there, about 15-20 yearlings that had been born in her care that she raised to like squirrel, two breeder adult females, and one adult male...all American cougars...a species that use to roam Douglas county woods before the white man came.

TRD Cyber float with above You Tube

Dog River Rapids - Douglasville, GA - A Sequential Tour of the River.

For those of you wondering what is around the corner from the HWY 5 bridge, here is a tour of the river at 265 cfs.

This is an awesome river when it is running.

It takes some decent rain to get her flowing and she doesn't stay up for long.

Depending on your skill level, the Dog brings something for everyone.

A definite step up from the Cartecay, Upper Hooch, Upper Amicalola...

The next step beyond the Dog is a low level run down Sweetwater.

10 minutes from downtown Douglasville and I-20.

The Dog gives local paddlers a great alternative to a multiple hour trip to the mountains.

Park on the south side of the HWY 5 bridge. (Or use above directions)

The takeout is the biggest question mark.

Lower run map.

The bridge at 166 and the Dog River Reservoir are both options, but you will most likely have to pay at the reservoir.

Any questions... let me know. Do not use the American Whitewater site for the gauge to this river. Waterwatch is the correct gauge. Search "Dog River near Fairplay, GA"

Official name change update to one of the rapids. Little Woodal was mistakenly named... It is now named "Painted Dwayne"...

I hope you folks have decided to use skirts and learn how to roll your boats. Makes for an overall drier and more fun adventure. Nice run everyone.

We run it after a good amount of rain.

There is one landowner at the big corner rapid that is trying to smear the paddling community for the actions of high schoolers destroying his property, but the rangers have been very nice at the boat takeout at the reservoir.

You park at the reservoir, pay the lady at the booth near the water and I believe it is about $5 per boat.

Toilet Bowl.

It is such a great river and I guarantee it has changed a lot since the last time you ran it. flood 09

Don't tailgate.

Don't point boat at back of fellow stuck on rock in front of you.

Go around the toilet bowl at high water.

Constant white water. This is now called "Painted Dwayne".

Rocky shoreline.

Drop after Drop, the Dog! You Tube Rapids.

Swimming in the Dog after falling out.

Petting the Dog.

Lookout below! Home Stretch.

These are two pretty good YouTube videos.

Douglas County (Part 3)

That wraps up a very worthy and current Natural Wonder and it provides another post to continue our tangent on Douglas County. We talked about the origins and history along with the geography and recreation. We turn to the listing of cities.


Austell (part)

Austell is a city mostly in Cobb County, but a portion is in Douglas County. We sorta missed Austell when we were exploring the Mountains of Cobb County. It is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area.

As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 6,581.


The area that is now Austell was frequented by game hunters and trappers on their way to the area's salt licks. These early visitors claimed the area's waters had medicinal properties. It soon became a destination for therapeutic healing, leading to the founding of a town known as Salt Springs.

As immigration increased and demand for land near the spring grew, G. O. Mozely donated and subdivided 40 acres of his land, enhancing the loose settlement with a street plan. Later, the spring was renamed Lithia Springs due to the water containing lithium carbonate, and the neighboring city of Lithia Springs was founded in 1882. In 1888, the Lithia Spring water was bottled and sold under the commercial name Bowden Lithia Spring Water. The historic Lithia Spring water is still bottled and sold under the name brand Lithia Spring Water.

The Georgia Pacific Railway chose the town of Austell to be a station depot, being the dividing point for the major Birmingham and Chattanooga railway lines.

This is same building in rear of above image.

40 trains a day come through Austell.

Austell was incorporated in 1885.

The town is named for General Alfred Austell (1814–1881), in recognition of his efforts to bring major railways to the South.

Atlanta National Bank and vintage Austell.

General Austell also founded the Atlanta National Bank (later renamed First Atlanta), which eventually became part of Wachovia and later Wells Fargo through various mergers and acquisitions.

General Austell is buried in an elaborate Gothic Revival-style mausoleum at the highest point in Atlanta's Oakland Cemetery.

Old City Hall Austell.

Austell today.


The city of Douglasville is the county seat of Douglas County, Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 30,961, up from 20,065 in 2001.

Douglasville is located approximately 20 miles west of Atlanta and is part of the Atlanta Metro Area. Highway access can be obtained via three interchanges along Interstate 20.

While downtown continues to host a diversity of professional, retail, and government functions, the construction of Interstate 20 through Douglasville several miles to the south of downtown drew much of the retail shopping activity into corridors perpendicular to the interstate highway at the locations of exits for state highways 92 and 5.

Original Mall of Douglas County.

Arbor Place, a 4 million square foot regional mall at the intersection of Interstate 20 and Chapel Hill Road, will further diminish the central role of downtown in meeting residents' primary shopping needs, but creates wonderful opportunities for continued development as a location for specialty shops and restaurants.


Located along a natural rise in the topography, Douglasville was originally known as "Skint Chestnut." The name was derived from a large tree used by Native Americans as a landmark; it was stripped of its bark so as to be more conspicuous.

Douglasville was founded in 1874 as the railroad was constructed in the area. That same year, Douglasville was designated as the county seat of the recently formed Douglas County. The community was named for Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois. We covered all this in GNW #173.

Georgia General Assembly first incorporated Douglasville in 1875.

The Douglasville Commercial Historic District in Douglasville, Georgia is a historic district which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

The listed area is 14 acres, and consisted of four-and-a-half blocks of buildings along the south side of Broad St. facing north towards the railroad, between Adair St. and Club Drive, plus some buildings on the back sides of those blocks facing south onto Church St., plus some on the cross streets in between these blocks.

In 1989 the area included 35 contributing buildings, a contributing structure, a contributing site, and a contributing object. Broad St. is now also known as Veterans Memorial Highway and as U.S. Route 78.

It comprises the historic commercial area of Douglasville. It includes the modern Douglas County Courthouse and the historic courthouse square with historic landscaping, a 1914 Civil War monument, and a World War II monument. The courthouse square is the oldest resource.

Old Courthouse burned in the 1950's

The district includes the historic railroad right-of-way across Broad Street through this downtown district. The oldest buildings were built in the 1880s.

Selected buildings include:

Douglasville Banking Company, in Beaux Arts style

The former Gulf Oil Company service station, in Tudor Revival, from 1920s

Palace Barber Shop, from c.1890s

Masonic Lodge (c.1924) (see photo #13), at northeast corner of Church & Price Streets

Farmers & Merchants Bank (c.1912)

The district was deemed significant as a typical Georgia railroad town's downtown commercial area.

The dominant landscape feature is the railroad right-of-way running east-to-west through downtown.

The Col. William T. Roberts House, at 8652 Campbellton St. in Douglasville, Georgia, was built in 1901. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

It is a two-story wood frame house built in restrained version of Classical Revival style. It has a central hall, four-over-four plan. It has a full-width one-story front porch with a covered balcony above, and two side porches.

It was built to serve as home of Colonel William T. Roberts (1858-1932) and his family, who had been Mayor of Douglasville, state representative for the county, and county solicitor. He lived here from 1901 to 1914, during which rose to national prominence. He was elected Solicitor General, i.e. a district attorney, for a multiple county area for two terms during 1895–1903, and elected State Senator for 1911–1912. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson appointed him to serve as attorney with the new Federal Trade Commission, and he moved to Washington, D.C. The National Register nomination states "he was the only known local Douglas County official to move up the political ladder to a national job, and one of the few in Georgia; especially in the half century following the Civil War."

The Beulah Grove Lodge No. 372, Free and Accepted York Masons, also known as Pleasant Grove School and Pleasant Grove Colored School, in Douglas County, Georgia near Douglasville, Georgia, was built in 1910. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.

On September 21, 2009, Douglas County was devastated by the worst flood in Georgia history. Over 18 inches of rain fell in one night, destroying many roads and homes. The county was later declared a disaster area, and the governor of Georgia declared a state of emergency. The flooding most affected the areas of Douglasville, Villa Rica, Austell, Lithia Springs, and Chapel Hill. The disaster killed more than eight people in the county, most of them in the Douglasville area.

Points of interest

Photo of the White section of the Basket Creek Cemetery, including Civil War soldiers' graves and one Native American grave (several rocks are piled on top located in the back).

Black section of the Basket Creek Cemetery.

In the center of town is a small plaza, which was converted from a street block, known as O'Neal Plaza (named after the former O'Neal's department store, now used as the Douglasville City Hall).

The plaza features a small performance venue and concrete fountain. It is home to many festivals year round. This is the site of the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Festival.

The Douglasville Convention & Visitors Bureau is located in the heart of downtown and serves as the city's welcome center.

The Douglas County Cultural Arts Center is located at Campbellton Street, south of Downtown. The center holds art shows and special events throughout the year, and hosts events for schools across the county. Classes for a variety of visual and performing arts are available year-round for all ages.

The courthouse on Hospital Drive hosts the Douglasville Farmers and Artisans Market every Wednesday from 4 pm until 7 pm, from April until November.

The Douglasville Downtown Conference Center is located at 6701 Church Street. It hosts corporate meetings, community events, and social gatherings. Summit Church of West Georgia meets here on Sunday mornings. The 37,000-square-foot conference center, with a two-level, 300-space parking deck, opened in early 2013.

It has a 7,600-foot ballroom space that can be divided into five rooms. It includes a 150-seat auditorium, a 15-person boardroom, a business center, three meeting rooms, two pre-function spaces, bride and groom dressing rooms, and a terrace in the back.

The Douglas County Museum of History and Art on West Broad Street is housed in the county's historic 1956 courthouse, which has been preserved for its unique architecture and is listed in the National Register for Historic Places. The museum features an exhibit of county history as well as seasonal displays.

Arbor Place Mall is home to over 100 shops and restaurants. The anchor stores are Dillard's, Sears-closing this February, Macy's, Belk, J.C. Penney, Old Navy and Bed Bath & Beyond. The mall sponsors many festivals, as well as Douglasville's July 4 celebrations.

Champ's Clock Shop and Museum's attractions include the world's largest real cuckoo clock.

Vanishing Douglasville.

Census-designated place

Lithia Springs

Lithia Springs is a census-designated place and unincorporated area, formerly incorporated as a city, located in northeastern Douglas County, Georgia, United States. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the community had a population of 15,491. The area is named for its historic "lithia" mineral water springs.

Incorporated in 1882, Lithia Springs was dissolved the first time in 1933. Lithia Springs became incorporated again in 1994, to be Douglas County's second completely internal municipality, but disincorporated again in 2000.

In 2000, the citizens voted on December 20 to dissolve the city charter and de-incorporate the city, transferring all assets to the county. The referendum that ended the town was part of the settlement in a lawsuit brought by city residents charging the city should be dissolved because it did not deliver enough services to justify its existence under state law. During its incorporation until 2000, the former city had five mayors.

Vintage Hotels Douglasville and Lithia Springs.

Still a few more cities in Douglas County plus all the notable people. What I need is another Natural Wonder in Douglas County, well I found one. For today's post on the Dog River, I present GNW Gals petting the Dogs.

Edited 24 time(s). Last edit at 01/07/2021 07:07AM by Top Row Dawg.

Georgia Natural Wonder #175 - Dog River - Douglas County (Part 3)

Top Row Dawg231December 29, 2020 05:50PM

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