Otey
and Sehlinger’s Northern Georgia Canoeing reckons that the
Amicalola “does not become navigable until below the junction of
the Little Amicalola (Creek) with the main Amicalola,” about a mile
and a half upstream of the “Six Mile” put-in, the usual start of
a run of the Upper Amicalola. The book suggests that one may enter
the stream at either of two bridges at the small community of Afton,
its access points “A” and “B”. However, those who have
paddled this 2.6 mile stretch from Afton to the Six Mile access point
have found little of interest. The first half bisects cleared
fields, has little gradient, and often is blocked by dead falls.
Moreover, the landowners have been known to object to intruders
(particularly to those fishing).

The
scenery and river gradient pick up downstream of the northern
boundary of the original state owned river corridor, just less than
one and a half miles upstream from Six Mile. However, there is no
public access to this stretch downstream of the Afton bridges.
Within the last year, the state has purchased a densely forested
tract along about two miles of the river beginning about four and a
half miles upstream of Afton and along spectacular Wildcat Creek, a
major tributary draining the eastern slopes of Burnt Mountain and
Mount Oglethorpe.

Liph
Johnson and I ran 4.3 miles beginning at the north end of this tract
down to the first Afton Bridge on Goshen Church Road. We had paddled
the Lower Amicalola at 1.1 earlier in the day and found plenty of
water in this headwaters section. The topographical maps (Amicalola,
Nelson, and a small portion of Nimblewill) indicate a drop of about
130 feet in the stretch we ran, more than is in the 6 miles from the
Six Mile put-in to Devil’s Elbow.

We
found beautiful scenery, excellent water quality, very frequent class
I and easy but technical class II rapids, and no development other
than a dilapidated old mill building about 300 yards upstream of the
take-out. Its dam has completely washed out, leaving a fun class III
drop of about 12 feet in 30 yards. It requires a left boof at the top
and provides quite a ride. Portage is also easy on the right. A
gauge reading of 1.0 at Hwy. 53 should give one plenty of water to
run this section, which might be aptly labeled the “Wildcat
Section.”

We
put in about .55 miles upstream of the Wildcat Creek confluence at
the lower end of a cleared field owned by the state and near Tate
Highway (S861) just north of Pleasant Union Church. Otey and
Sehlinger’s map of the Amicalola (p. 68) shows the shuttle roads
and all but the first .55 miles of the river, which loops northeast
back to Tate Hwy from where the map leaves off, and then continues
north for 2 miles till it crosses Hwy 136 two miles west of Hwy 183.

To
get to my put-in, one should go north on Tate Highway (S861) from the
river for one-half mile and take the Forest Service dirt road on the
left just past Pleasant Union Church. There is a good place to carry
down to the river 50 yards down this road. Alternatively, one might
go farther north on Tate Highway to where the river is close to the
road near the state property boundary. From our put-in, it was .55
miles to Wildcat Creek, which substantially increases the flow and
width of the stream; 1.1 miles from Wildcat to Tate Highway; and
another 2.65 miles to the first Afton Bridge, which is .2 miles
upstream of the second.

We
encountered two dead falls in the first mile which required us to
step out of our boats, but were easily traversed, but none
thereafter. The Amicalola upstream and even the last 2.3 or 3.2
miles of Wildcat Creek might be run at higher water levels. Wildcat
Creek should be scouted before run, would require very high levels
(probably over 2 feet at Hwy 53), and would present very difficult
access problems, particularly during wet weather. And, of course,
downed trees could present more of a hazard.

All
in all, this was a very pleasant, albeit short run and well worth
experiencing.

by
Roger Nott, Exploration Chairman
Saturday, February 10, 1996

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