Mossy Creek is a steep little run found between the rolling hills of the Georgia Piedmont and the Appalachian Mountains. Draining into the mighty Chattahoochee River below the popular whitewater stretch, Mossy attracted little attention until it was “discovered” by local boaters only a few years ago. The unassuming put-in to Mossy Creek paddling, which resembles most flat pastoral piedmont streams, only furthers the likelihood of folks ignoring this creek. Between the put-in and take-out, Mossy Creek passes over numerous Class III and IV drops. The creek gets even harder when the water gets high, becoming a series of 7-foot waves and huge river-wide holes linked together in long continuous rapids.
Get an Overview of the Chattahoochee Watershed where Mossy Creek is located.
USGS and County Maps for Mossy Creek Paddling
MAPS: Leaf, Lula (USGS); Habersham (County)
New Bridge Rd. to Mud Creek Off of Pea Ridge Rd.
Class III-IV (V); Length 2.2 mi (plus 4.5 on the Chattahoochee);
Time: 4 hr; Gauge: None; Level: N/A; Gradient: 80 fpm.
Mossy Creek paddling is full of waterfalls and slides and can be truly impressive at flood stage. It starts with 0.25 miles or so of flat-water and Class I shoals. Then comes a cute little warmup ledge, followed around the corner by an impressive horizon line. It’s impressive because the river completely disappears from sight, and in the distance, way, way, way below you, is a meadow with a water wheel. Don’t let this horizon line intimidate you. The first rapid, Waterwheel, drops 40 feet or so and is made up of three sliding falls, each bigger and tougher than the previous, but each with a small recovery eddy. It can be run blind, and can be run right, left, or middle. Take note of the rebar on the right. The sluice leads to an apparently functional waterwheel and mill. At high levels Waterwheel becomes one single drop with a keeper hydraulic. If you jettison here at flood levels, your boat will be gone for good. At least it’s an easy walk out up the driveway.
There is a nice pool next to the mill, but at the end of this is an even more awesome horizon line marking Ratchet Rapid. It wouldn’t hurt to scout here first. Ratchet begins with a 6-or 7-foot vertical drop, which is followed by a series of ledges, each with its own hydraulic. The typical run is far right, cutting river left across the face, dropping into each ledge wherever. If you start far right, you must boof (left or right) to avoid pinning. Ratchet can also be run starting from the far left at the top. The rapid ends in a large pool at the bottom.
The next mile or so following Ratchet includes smaller falls and shoals. Then comes the BIG DROP. .. known as Broken Butt Falls. It will be obvious, and you should seriously consider scouting first. Actually, this advice is superfluous, since the horizon line is truly monstrous and scouting will come naturally. Broken Butt Falls drops at least 30 feet at slightly less of an angle than Oceana in the Tallulah Gorge. The fun run is far left where there are two launching ramps. The smarter Mossy Creek paddling run starts on river right and cuts across the face towards the left. There are several little ledges that will help you accomplish the traverse.
A river-wide natural dam and straightforward drop follow Broken Butt Falls. Then come some more drops, a boulder garden, and attendant sieves. The boulder garden is technical, has several interesting slot moves through undercuts, and continues all the way to the Hooch. When the water is high, this section of Mossy Creek paddling becomes more difficult than the preceding slides. It will take another 45 miles on a relatively flat Hooch (two fun little rapids) to reach the take-out at Muddy Creek.
From Gainesville, take US 23/GA 365 north, turning left onto Belton Bridge Road. Follow to Pea Ridge Road and turn right. The best take-out is where this road crosses Mud Creek. To get to the put-in for Mossy Creek paddling, return to Belton Bridge Road and turn right, crossing the Chattahoochee. Turn right onto Forrester Road, then right again onto Skitts Mountain Road for 1.7 miles, and right onto New Bridge Road. Mossy Creek is the first creek crossing on New Bridge Road, 0.9 miles ahead.
The Georgia USGS Internet site lists real-time data for the Chattahoochee River near Helen. Runnable levels commence at 3 feet, up to 8 feet. Alternatively, water should cover the footings of the river-left piling at the put-in bridge. If Mossy looks too high, it is. Mossy Creek is usually runnable October through June, after heavy or sustained rain
This Brier Creek paddling guide is adapted from Canoeing and Kayaking Georgia by Suzanne Welander and Bob Sehlinger and published here in cooperation with Menasha Ridge Press. Canoeing and Kayaking Georgia covers thousands of miles of Georgia waterways from whitewater to wilderness swamps and everything in between. It’s an indispensable guide to anyone interested in paddling Georgia’s rivers and streams. Order directly from Menasha Ridge Press. See a comprehensive list of other Menasha outdoor publications indexed by title, author, category, and region.
This Mossy Creek paddling guide is adapted from Canoeing and Kayaking Georgia by Suzanne Welander and Bob Sehlinger and published here in cooperation with Menasha Ridge Press. Canoeing and Kayaking Georgia covers thousands of miles of Georgia waterways from whitewater to wilderness swamps and everything in between. It’s an indispensable guide to anyone interested in paddling Georgia’s rivers and streams. Order directly from Menasha Ridge Press. See a comprehensive list of other Menasha outdoor publications indexed by title, author, category, and region.