Intermediate Winter Creek Run

Bridge on Earls Ford Road to Sandy Ford on Chattooga.
Appropriate for: Intermediates, Advanced.
Miles on
River: 4 on Warwoman; 3 on the Chattooga.
Months Runnable:
Probably all if wet.
Difficulty: I-III (IV for Dick’s Creek Falls
on Chattooga).
AWA Point Scale: 15.
Average Width: 40-80′ on
Warwoman, over 280′ on Chattooga.
Gradient: 25′ mile.
First small bridge to the right, tip of cross-member at water
Runnable level: Min: 150 cfs (Chattooga at about
Max: flood but be careful (Chattooga over 5′).
Strainers, difficult rapids, undercuts.
Scouting: All blind drops,
Dick’s Creek.
Portages: Possible for all strainers if desired.
Easy for Dick’s Creek.
Rescue Index: Inaccessible.
from Atlanta: 120 Miles.
Maps: Most of Warwoman is included in the
Satolah, GASC-NC 7.5 series quadrangle. Rabun Bald, Whetstone, and
Rainy Mountain catch the rest

you interested in spring creekin’ but aren’t quite ready for
Overflow, the Chauga, or even Amicalola? Try Warwoman up in Rabun
county. It drops just over 100′ in four miles and runs into the
Chattooga at Earl’s Ford. Earl’s to Sandy on Section III adds three
more miles and drops another 100′ It will take you 2-3 hours to enjoy
Warwoman and another two hours to reach Sandy Ford. Warwoman can be
run if the Chattooga is at least 2.5 and becomes more interesting at
around 4′.

is appropriate for solid intermediate level paddlers but the party
should include an experienced leader. Warwoman Creek is unusually
scenic and is a good creek to practice eddy turns, side surfing, boat
scouting drops, and water reading. A road (albeit a short distance
away) provides land extraction. The water flows at a very rapid rate,
helping to create lots of nice, relatively technical, class 2 rapids
and even more surfing holes. Warwoman has three significant class 3
drops. Mattress, the first drop of consequence, is about 15 minutes
from the put-in and is easily recognized by a horizon line (there
used to be a mattress pinned to the boulder). Mattress is a blind
sloping 15′ or so drop which can be scouted from river left or
comfortably boat scouted from the pool; for the more adventurous,
there’s a small eddy on the right lip.

far right and cut left across the face. There is a launch pad in the
middle near the top and a chock-stone at the very bottom of the
left-most chute. Mattress ends in a big pool where safety should be
set, because, if you unass and don’t make shore, a narrow gorge drops
another ten feet or so over about 100 yards.

is the next major drop. Hump looks quite impressive as you approach
its horizon line. But it is in reality a straightforward 15′ slide
which can be run anywhere. There is an interesting river-wide surfing
wave at the bottom of Hump which becomes awesome at high levels.

Pin Ball, technically the most difficult drop, completes the named
rapids and falls about 20′. Pin Ball presents with an obvious horizon
line. Pin Ball should be scouted from the right bank, but not
everything is clearly visible. The rapids run around a small island
(or large boulder). The left chute is obscured by the island and the
bottom of the right chute cannot be seen. The right chute looks great
from the top, but a large log strainer half-way down on the left and
an invisible cleaver rock obstructing the run-out should preclude
intentionally running it.

usual run is down Pin Ball’s left chute, and unfortunately in January
and February, 1998, this was blocked by an especially nasty strainer.
It is currently necessary to portage Pin Ball on river right.
However, when the river opens up again, there is a left-hand eddy
about 5′ down (try to back ferry into it). Park here to scan the
remaining run and position your boat to cut back right and around the
island. There is another nifty little eddy a little farther down on
the left; don’t try for it unless you are fairly confident, because
the remainder of the chute is a tight right turn that runs between
under-cut banks. Oh, there is also a troll rock at the bottom that
will want to kiss anything coming down.

mile or so (and a couple of rapids) remains after Pin Ball before
confluence with the Chattooga at

Ford. You still have Warwoman, Rock Garden Three Rooster Tails,
Dick’s Creek Ledge and Stair Case

ahead of you.

who have not done Section 3 above 3′ need to think seriously about
Dick’s Creek Ledge. Dick’s Creek Ledge (AKA First Ledge) is a Class
IV rapid, which is marked by a large waterfall entering the Chattooga
on river right. Scout the ledge from the large rock mid-river. It’s a
hoot at high levels, but the classic left route (dropping into a
small eddy just above the cushioned rock, cutting back to the right
down the upper slide, then going hard left at the run-out) changes

no circumstances should normal people run left of the cushioned rock
at levels above 3′! I have done so, and plan B is to opt for the
Toaster (you will recognize it). Some friends have also gone left,
and for them plan C was the 6′ vertical onto rocks. There are a
variety of easier high water routes that involve straight-forward
ledge drops on river right or far left. About a half mile below
Dick’s Creek comes Stair Case, a solid class III at high water. This
is followed by a series of fun ledges and holes, then you will see
the Sandy Ford take-out, river right.

get to Warwoman Creek take I 85 north 31 miles to I 985. Stay on I
985, which becomes US 441, all the way to Clayton (just like going to
the Chattooga). But don’t turn off for the Chattooga, continue on to
the second light (across from the Dairy Queen) and turn right on to
Warwoman Road. Go 8 miles and turn right onto Earl’s Ford Road (it’s
around the corner from the volunteer fire department station). Put in
at the bridge (there is a large turn-out for parking).

the take-out, go back to Warwoman Road. Turn left and go for about 2
miles to Sandy Ford Road. Turn left on Sandy Ford Road and follow it
to the very end (about 6 miles). You will ford Dick’s Creek twice;
all but the lowest clearance (i.e., a Porsche 911) will make the
second ford.

William C. Reeves (The Hawk)
From The Eddy Line, April 1998