Five Falls

This is the finish line, the last rapid before the Chattooga enters Lake Tugaloo. Five drops — four of them Class 5 — are stacked one on top of the other, marking the climax of what’s arguably the most famous whitewater in the Southeast. Good swimming holes, too. Just be sure to visit when the water’s down.

The first place is at the end of the descending trail, a nice sand bar with plenty of room, great sunlight all day long and a good rock drop into a fine deep pool. High mica content in the sand makes it sparkle on a sunny day. And it gets better one-quarter mile upriver.

An eddy pool at the bottom of Shoulder Bone, the only Class 3 rapid of the Five Falls, makes a big hole with a really large shoal on river left the provides lots of lounging. A large, flat rock shaped like a trapezoid is fallen into a minor rapid above it and an anvil shaped rock divides the river in two 80 yards above that. The overhead is open and sunny, leaving the visitor with the impression, “this is how summer is supposed to look.”

The trail to the swimming hole requires lots of picking your way upstream along the riverbed, some of it on rocks that require three points of contact. One drawback, there’s likely to be more than a few paddlers eddying out in the pool, so privacy will be less than you’d expect in such a remote place.

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