Section:
Lower Roswell Road to Columns Drive on Metro Chattahoochee
Scenery:
Pretty
Appropriate
for: Advanced
Miles
on River: 2-3 miles
Month
Runnable: Only after major rain.
Difficulty:
III (IV at high water)
AWA
Point Scale: 18 points
Gradient:
I estimate 30-40 feet per mile
Gauge:
USGS data from Internet; Three I-beams under bridge
at put in
Runnable
Level: Minimum:
5′ or 300 cfs; I-beams under put-in bridge (river right) just under
water
Maximum:
8′ or 900 cfs;
Hazards:
Difficult rapids, strainers, holes
Scouting:
Boat scouting possible at all major rapids, bank scouts at some.
Portages:
If you have to portage you shouldn’t be doing this one.
Rescue
Index: Metro Atlanta right in people’s back yards.
First
run with Snuffy 5/1/98

If
it is raining like stink mid-week, and you can take off from work at
a realistic time, consider looking at Sope Creek. It takes a lot of
rain to get Sope up, and too much can create too much fun. So, call
up the gauges, drive out to Paper Mill to check it out in person, and
consider just how good you really are before opting for it. This
creek can vary considerably according to the volume. Sope starts out
as a fast flowing but flat creek. The first rapid is just around the
corner about a quarter mile from the put-in. Too bad it’s unrunnable
due to strainers, and if you go left you will probably die. I mean
it! This bad boy personifies a strainer. Once you see it you’ll
understand where the term originated. Portage on the right. Directly
below is a set of surfing waves. Enjoy these because it’s a half mile
at least before you hit Sope Creek Gorge.

You’ll
know the gorge is coming due to the sound. The first class III rapid
is called Gateway to Hell; it ends in a big tongue with a nice
surfing hole. Immediately following Gateway are the Narrows, an easy
III with a big eddy below and lots of surfing waves. About 5 yards
below the Narrows you will see a horizon line created by Hammer, a
15+ foot sliding vertical drop into a potentially very sticky
hole.

At high levels, the run could become lethal on the left,
so run it on the right. However, be aware that the right hand drop
wants to slam your boat into the bank, so angle left when running the
drop. Immediately below the recovery pool of Hammer comes the Anvil,
which was clogged with trees in the middle but could be run right or
left. From here you can plainly see Paper Mill Rd bridge. The drop
through the bridge is known as Compound Fracture. It is solid class
III at low levels, definitely a IV at high levels, and V at the upper
limits of runnability. Compound Fracture has three slots; the middle
and right are the best. One must be careful since the cross currents
try to slam you into the bridge pylon. The far left has a really
nasty hole and the far right has a dangerous undercut about 5 yards
down stream. The complicating factor of this rapid, besides the
bridge pylon, is the massive nearly symmetric hole directly below the
bridge. This hole is big and it is dangerous. It’s the reason I
recommend scouting from Paper Mill Road before you put on. There is a
good eddy on the right below the bridge. Following the big hole is a
smaller drop which has its own hole at high water but is followed by
a good recovery pool.

Sope
continues with a number of class III shoals and drops including one
called Paper Mill Shoals. Then almost as suddenly as it begins you
see a white sewer line and the river flattens out. The fun’s not
over, because you get to paddle your first golf course water-hazard
(keep your helmet on and your head down). The take-out is imminent
just past the bridge, or you can continue on to the Metro and Cochran
Shoals Park. A small low head dam is right past the take-out before
Sope meets the metro hooch.

To
get to Sope Creek take Highway 400 north to Exit 5A, Abernathy Road.
Take Abernathy west past Roswell Road and a shopping center, up a
hill, to Johnson’s Ferry Road. Turn right onto Johnson’s Ferry and
cross the Hooch. Just past the bridge turn left onto Columns Drive.
Follow Columns to the parking lot at the very end (you will cross
Sope Creek). This is the take-out (Cochran Shoals Park).

I
recommend walking to the river to be certain you will recognize the
take-out while paddling. Alternatively, you can take out at the
bridge and walk to the parking lot. No matter, once you’ve figured
this out, go back to Johnson’s Ferry and continue to the left. At the
top of the hill is Paper Mill Road, consider turning left onto it to
scout the river.

If
you do this, follow Paper Mill Road until you cross Sope Creek and
look for parking. Scout from the bridge. If it looks too low it is
and if it looks too high then go home.

Go back to Johnson’s
Ferry and continue to Lower Roswell Road (it’s a couple lights). Turn
left onto Lower Roswell Road and continue to the bridge that crosses
Sope Creek. There is parking at some transformers to the left just
before the bridge. The 3-I beam gauge is located just upstream of the
bridge river right. The take-out is via Lower Roswell to Johnson
Ferry and going right. The next turn is on Columns Drive on the
right. The take out is on the bridge, which crosses Sope Creek. Park
for the take-out at the end of Columns Drive.