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 Top Row Dawg
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Georgia Natural Wonder #177 - Sweetwater Creek - Douglas County (Part 5)
January 07, 2021 04:20AM

Georgia Natural Wonder #177 - Sweetwater Creek - Douglas County (part 5)

I was finishing the post on Anneewakee Creek and it just got too long. I then realized I had not really given much attention to the American Whitewater experience of Sweetwater Creek. We focused on Sweetwater State Park and the history of the New Manchester Mills with GNW #173.

Today we turn to the Sweetwater Creek itself, as a whitewater Georgia Natural Wonder.

River Description

Gauge Description: Class III at low flows below 4 feet. Class IV above 5 feet on the gauge. The falls are Class IV+. At 7 feet the falls are a Class V drop.

The river has been run a few times over 10 feet and possibly as high as 13. Floodstage Class 5 at these flows. LOCATION.--Lat 33°46'22', long 84°36'53', Douglas County, Hydrologic Unit 03130002, on right bank 100 ft upstream from bridge on Interstate Highway 20, 400 ft upstream from Blair Bridge, 3 mi southeast of Austell, and 5.5 mi upstream from mouth. More gauge info in text below. Sweetwater's drainage area is nearly 250 square miles, so it usually holds its water for a couple of days after a heavy rain.

Description: The Put-in for this run is in Sweetwater Creek State Park. There is a parking fee $5 for the day or $50 for the Annual pass. Once inside the park drive straight back to the interpretive center and park. Walk down the nature trail until you hit water.

A general rule of thumb is run down the left side channels from the first ledge until you get to the falls, but there are also other fun lines on the right but tend to collect wood. just scout as you go.

Below the put-in the river goes around a bend to the left. Just around the bend is a small riverwide ledge with some good surfing potential. Below this little wave hole is an island. Run to the left side of the island. Just past the island the gradient will start to pick up and the river will drop over more small bedrock ledges.

Take out on the left above the obvious horizon line.

The first major drop encountered is a riverwide ten foot tall sloping ledge. This is generally scouted and run on river left. There is also a route on river right. Its a good idea to scout this ledge as wood tends to gather at its base. At higher flows a nasty low head dam type hole develops on this ledge in the center of the river.

River Features

Put-In Distance: 0 mi

Put In

Where one gets in the river. Most of the descriptions below are for water levels in the 5 to 6 foot range.

Warm up ledge.Class: II+Distance: 0.23 mi

Surf Spot

A nice little river wide surfing ledge. Short boats can get cartwheels, long boats can 360 spin. There is an island below, run left of it.

First Ledge Class: IV+Distance: 0.3 mi

First Ledge

A sloping 10 foot tall ledge. It might be class 3 at low flows. At flows above 4.5 feet the middle part of the ledge makes a nasty low head dam type keeper hole. Best place to scout and run is on the left. This one should definitely be scouted before you run it. The logs in this drop move every time the water comes up.

The sneak is just below the island on the left that is immediately above the drop. Be aware this sneak turns into a nasty hole above 7.6 feet.

There is also a far right line, but it is hard to scout and ends in a log pile. At flows above 8 feet consider the channel by the jogging trail on the river right bank.

Mill Shoals Class: IVDistance: 0.31 mi

Mill Shoals

From the first ledge to the falls is nearly a mile continuous class 3 plus or 4 rapids depending on the water level.

Above 5.5 feet its one sweet long rapid. Normally run to the left of the islands, but there are also right and center lines.

There is always badly placed and hard to see wood in the drops.

The Falls Class: IV+Distance: 1 mi

HazardSurf Spot Portage

The Falls

Big riverwide ledge with multiple routes, depending on the water level.

The Hole below the Falls Class: IV+Distance: 1.01 mi

Hazard Waterfall / Large Drop

The Hole below the Falls

Being out of control thru the falls at high flows means you are going into the meat of this beast.

There is a tongue around the left, and a sneak on the right.

Creek Right Class: II+Distance: 1.2 mi

Fun narrow creek around the right side of the island. Fun waves on the left.

2nd Island - Surf right, play left Class: III Distance: 1.9 mi

Good waves on the right of the island, not so good waves on the left.

Powerline Waves Class: II+Distance: 2.25 mi

Waterfall / Large Drop

Powerline Waves

Nice riverwide surf wave/hole at some levels. Higher flows make for a better hole. There is a huge eddy river right under the rope swing that feeds you back onto the wave.

This one is best in the 5 foot range. It starts to wash out about 7.5 feet.

Big Island Rapid, aka Last Ruin Rapid Class: IV Distance: 2.3 mi

Big Island Rapid, aka Last Ruin Rapid

More open on the left, but with some big holes. The right side of the island has some cool routes, but usually has some badly placed wood in it. Look before you leap. At the bottom left of the rapid are more old Civil War era ruins.

Pumping Station Class: III Distance: 3.5 mi

HazardSurf Spot

Pumping Station

During the summer of 2006 the dam at the pumping station was rebuilt. It is now a dangerous low head dam. The left side is particularly deadly. There was a sneak around the hole up against the river right bank.

Pre 2006 description: The wave, or hole, or ledge at the pumping station is a whole lot of different rapids depending on how high the hooch is and how far it is backing up into Sweetwater and how much water Sweetwater is sending downstream.

If the hooch is really high, it backs up and covers the entire rapid.

Take-out : Riverside Parkway Distance: 4 mi

Take Out

The take-out is a pain in the neck. The normal take-out is on the right, under the bridge. The bank is slippery. The mud is nasty, and there is some re-bar waiting for someone to impale themselves on it.

Just above the bridge on the left is a cement culvert. At higher flows the culvert makes for a much better take-out. From there, carry up the trail to the road. Watch for snakes, poison ivey & broken glass.


12/22/12 - Right side of island just below the power lines there is a tree down around the blind turn. Beware as we had 4 paddlers get trapped by it. All ended up okay. Two flipped and went under it. One got his body stuck for a bit on it then flushed out under it and then one boat had to be z-dragged off of it. We will try to get in and cut it out. Also at the Falls, a tree is blocking the middle right and far right lines. The park rangers said they will cut this out. We removed a lot of wood and opened up some routes that have been blocked since the flood in 2009.

Apr 27, 2012

The gauge has been updated to reflect the level changes since the floods of 2009 took out the old gauge and the new one was put in a downstream location.

Feb 6, 2011

The right-of-island line at Powerline Rapid is blocked by a tree completely across the channel. Still there on Feb. 6, 2011.

Nov 20, 2003

When the Hooch has more than 10,000 cfs the last rapid is completely underwater. The good news is that you can take out really easily on the left where the culvert comes in.

Jul 24, 2003

At levels of about 3.5 and lower there are 2 awesome holes right below the falls. The best being the one that is kind of on the falls, it is an extremely shallow L shaped hole at the bottom of the slide. It is a really fun surf, And the next one is right below it, it is really good for 360's and maybe cartwheels.

If the road across the lake looks like this, there is probably enough water for a run of the Sweet.

Mar 12, 2003

Two experienced kayakers were stranded on a small island on Sweetwater Creek inside Sweetwater Creek State Park in Lithia Springs for more than 24 hours after their small craft was swept away. Robbie Martin and Scott Dalton, both of Lithia Springs, huddled together all of Friday night and most of Saturday as they waited for rescuers. Rescue attempts were thwarted several times because Douglas County firefighters and volunteers could not get across the rain-swollen creek to the small island

Or, you can just paddle the lake with State Park rental kayaks when the water is not up.

Oct 29, 2002

At 5.5 feet on Sweetwater, and 4000 cfs in the hooch, the wave at the pumping station was unbelievable. 4 feet tall, 15 feet wide, good eddy access, it was incredible!!!! Unfortunately the river was dropping fast and the wave disappeared as the river dropped below 5 feet.

Douglas County (Part 5)

Well that was worth coming back to Douglas County one more time. Next time it rains, don't complain, take advantage of the whitewater on these three waterways of Douglas County. Dog River - Anneewakee Creek - Sweetwater Creek. Now we finish our tangent of Douglas County having covered the History - Parks - Cities - Places. We finish with Popular Culture and Notable People.

In Pop Culture

The county has become a hub for the film industry, serving as some of the state's most popular filming locations. Projects that have filmed exclusively in, or in part of, Douglas County include the following movies ...

Academy Award-winning Driving Miss Daisy
Smokey and the Bandit
Six Pack

Randy and the Mob
Killing Season

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
The Founder
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part I
Million Dollar Arm

Kill the Messenger
All Eyez on Me
Logan Lucky

Table 19
The House with a Clock in Its Walls

Television series to film in the county include

The Walking Dead
Necessary Roughness

Stranger Things
Matlock (TV series)
Finding Carter

Stan Against Evil

MTV's Scream

Notable People

Ruth Blair, first woman state historian of Georgia grew up here.

Asa Griggs Candler, Coca-Cola business executive and mayor of Atlanta.

Warren Akin Candler, bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and tenth president of Emory University.

Jae Crowder, professional basketball player.

Marquette Golden Eagle.

Thomas A. Dorsey, early innovator of black gospel music.

Janie Lou Gibbs, serial killer and poisoner, died in a nursing home after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease after being released from prison.

Gawd Damn, killed her husband three sons and a grandson with Arsenic?

Walton Goggins actor. Though not born in Lithia Springs, Goggins moved there at a young age and grew up in the area.

The Unicorn!

Terry Harper, former outfielder for the Atlanta Braves.

Brian Heidik, winner of Survivor: Thailand.

Lil Nas X, rapper best known for the song "Old Town Road" born in Lithia Springs.

Rod Man - standup comedian, winner of Last Comic Standing.

Audrey Middleton, Big Brother's first transgender contestant.

Elana Meyers American Olympian bobsledder who attended Lithia Springs High School.

Norma Jean, metalcore band.

Maidie Norman, actress.

Calvin Pace NFL player attended Lithia Springs High School from 1994–1998.

Wake Forest Demon Deacon.

David M. Parsons, Texas State Poet Laureate, 2011.

Morgan Saylor, actress.

J.T. Saylors, 'the rubber face'.

Dixie Walker, professional baseball player. Won 1945 batting title over Stan Musial.

Traded instead of being Dodgers teammate of Jackie Robinson.

Herman "Thunderfoot" Weaver, professional football player.

Tennessee Volunteer.

Since we returned to Sweetwater Creek, we return to Sweetwater Brewery for today's Georgia Natural Wonder Gals.

Sprayberry High School Class of 2002 reunion at Sweetwater Brewery.

Bonus Choice to see who actually read the post.

Edited 16 time(s). Last edit at 02/01/2021 01:34AM by Top Row Dawg.

Georgia Natural Wonder #177 - Sweetwater Creek - Douglas County (Part 5)

Top Row Dawg280January 07, 2021 04:20AM

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