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Kayaking the Upper Toccoa River

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Second trip onto the Toccoa, this time in the Aska Adventure area where the Toccoa river runs into Lake Blue Ridge. Dam release times will have no affect on a trip on this portion of the river, only the natural precipitation that will change the river-scape.


Again, finding information on drop-ins and take-outs is difficult, especially if you do not have two cars and need to find a convenient trip possible with one car and biking between locations. After a bit of investigating and scouting, we found a great trip that we believe that we can still improve upon now that we have a better idea of the area.

In summary, we put in a Sandy Bottoms and took out near Tilly Bend. What this equates to is a 6 mile paddle with only an easy 2 mile distance between the put ins and take outs.

Sandy Bottoms is a Forestry Service maintained park that is actually the official end of the 13 mile Toccoa Canoe Trail. It has a $3 parking fee. We dropped the kayaks and gear at this location, and then drove back to Tilly Bend area and parked on a pull-off near some campsites, then jumped on our bikes to head back to Sandy Bottoms. There was some uphill sections at the start, all on dirt roads, but was a fairly easy 2 mile bike ride. In this general area, there are a few different areas to take out that might be shorter.

Immediately from Sandy Bottoms, you will hit class I rapids and shoals for the majority of the trip. The water flow is brisk and we passed many people simply floating down in tubes. We did scrape bottom a few times on the shoals and rapids, but the river level is generally deeper than the lower Toccoa when it is not running dam water. The 6 mile river as it winds through the hills with the blooming wild flowers is also beautiful. You pass few houses till you reach the end and closer to the lake.

There were three notable rapids. The first was a series of shallow water falls that look more intimidating than they really were. The second, which we later found out was a class II+ was a lot of fun, and probably the limit of what our kayaks could do. My first attempt and I was quickly thrown out into a deep washing machine (note - it would have been nice to have been wearing the PFD that was tied to the back of the kayak...). When I finally got to the surface I was lucky to be able to quickly grab the kayak as I was tossed over the second drop over some rocks. The water was moving pretty fast here so it took a while to paddle to the side and get back into the kayak.

Apart from losing my sunglasses, I was no worse for wear. Traci on the other hand looked like a pro and had no issues going down the rapid. We both climbed back up the rocks and did it again. This time we both tipped and I lost my water bottle and Traci lost her sunglasses and hat.

Found hat and water bottle down the river, but sunglasses forever gone.

The last rapid called BFH (you'll know why when you see it) was fun and fast and emptied into the lake. Here we had around a 1 hour lake paddle back to the take-in point. This was OK and afforded us some much needed exercise, but after the fun of the river, I would like a shorter lake paddle - will investigate a closer take out to shorten the lake paddle.

Blue Ridge Weekender

View Sandy Plains to Tilly Bend in a larger map