Town Creek arises at Tesnatee Gap on the Richard Russell Scenic Highway and tumbles south between Cowrock Mountain and Adams Bald in the Chestatee Wildlife Management Area. One of the first roads to cross the Blue Ridge in Georgia, the historic Logan Turnpike, once paralleled Town Creek here, but the first two miles of the creek now drain a pristine, roadless area. Its gradient then eases as it bisects the picturesque Kellum Valley’s pastures for about 3 miles.
Town Creek then crosses US Highway 129 just east of the Lumpkin County line and stays in dense forest for most of its remaining 9 miles before joining Tesnatee Creek just upstream of our take-out at the Town Creek Road Bridge, Tesnatee access point A in Otey and Sehlinger’s Northern Georgia Canoeing. Its map of the Tesnatee Creek area on page 63 shows the shuttle roads and most of the creek we ran. The Cowrock and Cleveland topographical maps depict the creek’s entire course.
Tropical storm Opal had dumped over 8 inches of rain on North Georgia on Tuesday and Wednesday. Early Friday morning Forte Rabb and I found enough water left to run part of the Upper, Upper Chattahoochee upstream of Robertstown, but we were frustrated because downed trees had blocked Forest Service Road 52 south of Low Gap Creek, and we could not access most of the best stretch of river. At the take-out I lunched with four paddlers who had run just behind us, and we planned to run the Upper Chestatee together that afternoon.
I led the caravan southwest, using a shortcut on the graveled Adair Mill Road, which crosses Town Creek. Of course we slowed and looked,and looked. It was running full and only a little stained. I have wanted to paddle Town Creek for years but had not thought that day of doing it till we crossed the bridge. After a roadside powwow and a little encouragement from the recently underproducing GCA Exploration Chairman, we set off to our put-in for Town Creek.
We found the trip a delight. We paddled about 6 miles with a total gradient of 25 feet per mile. We started about one mile upstream from historic and picturesque Adair Mill, a lovely and nearly intact grist mill. Here the stream is about 25 feet wide and mostly fast moving flat water with occasional small shoals. We easily portaged right around the eight foot mill dam. The creek in the next mile drops about 35 feet and is narrow and densely wooded. We found frequent class I and easy class II rapids overhung with copious mountain laurel and rhododendron. Throughout the trip we encountered numerous trees which had been felled by Opal, and we had to haul over a couple in this stretch which entirely blocked the stream.
For the next three quarters of a mile the stream is shallow and partially channelized as it goes under Adair Mill Road and swiftly traverses farmland. During the next two miles the gradient rises again to about thirty-five feet per mile, the banks become steep and wooded,and the stream becomes fuller and averages about 50 feet in width. Here we found frequent Class I and II, and several wide, generally convex and challenging ledges which I rate as low class III’s. Inthis section we found about 15 apparently recently constructed homes,some of which were very close to the creek and were on property denuded of natural vegetation. Behind one lay a battered Grumman canoe, and elsewhere we found the corpses of several rafts and inner tubes.
We saw abundant wildlife and herded a heron and several ducks ahead of us for a couple of miles. Our final mile was through bottom land and was mostly flat. Here we encountered about 50 campers, many of whom were operating small dredge pumps to search the bed for gold and gems. The owners of this campground gave us permission to take out in their field just upstream of the bridge, where egress would have been much more strenuous.
To find our put-in from Tesnatee Creek access point A, go northwest on Town Creek Road about 3.3 miles. Go right on Adair Mill Road and take the first road left, about a mile and a half past the bridge. It is about another mile to the creek.
Enjoying this beautiful stream and lovely, sunny day were Doug Graydon, Chuck Hans, Barry Mullis, Corinne Martin and I, each in OC1 canoes.
TripDate: Friday, October 6, 1995
By Roger Nott, Exploration Chairman
-From the Eddy Line, December 1995