South Chickamauga Creek is a long, winding, valley-floor stream in the northwest corner of the state. It flows north from Ringgold over the border into Tennessee and Chattanooga before entering the Tennessee River. As it weaves between the steep ridges that border the valley, South Chickamauga Creek kayaking exposes you to numerous sites of cultural and natural interest.
Get an Overview of the Tennessee River Watershed where South Chickamauga Creek is located.
USGS and County Maps for South Chickamauga Creek Kayaking
Ringgold, East Ridge, East Chattanooga (USGS); Catoosa GA, Hamilton TN (County)
Lafayette Street to US 11/64 in Chattanooga, TN
Class: I; Length: 19.5 miles; Time: 2 days; Gauge: Web, visual; Level: 180 cubic feet per second; Gradient: 4 feet per mile; Scenery: C-D
At lower levels, South Chickamauga Creek kayaking makes for a placid, Class I float within easy reach of the urban area of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Along the way the creek passes by caves, springs, sinks, bluffs, farmland, Civil War historical sites, a wildlife sanctuary, and the old Swanson Mill at Graysville, Georgia. The mill’s dam is only 100 feet below the access at the Graysville bridge, an intermediate access point. Be sure to take-out at this bridge to portage around the dam.
Upon emerging from the riverine environment at the US 11 take-out in Chattanooga, you may encounter wildlife of another sort, including the 15-foot-high giant orange lizard and his ilk rendered in cement at the local miniature golf course.
From 1-75 just over the border in Chattanooga, take Exit 4 for TN 320. Turn west onto Brainerd Road and proceed to a left turn onto Lee Highway, US 11. The take-out is less than a mile ahead on the left. Park between the levee and Brainerd Village Shopping Center. To get to the put-in, return to Brainerd Road. Continue 3.8 miles to a right turn onto Graysville Street. After 2 miles, the road will make a sharp right turn and head toward the creek. An alternative access point is available down the side road on the right, immediately after crossing the railroad tracks. To get to the uppermost put-in, continue down Graysville Street. Turn left onto US 41 and go about 5 miles to a right turn onto Lafayette Street. The highest put-in is on the right at the bridge.
The TVA provides real-time streamflow data for South Chickamauga Creek kayaking at Chickamauga, Tennessee on their Web site. Minimum runnable water level is 180 cfs; maximum is flood stage. A staff gauge is located on river left, upstream from the bridge at US 11.
This South Chickamauga Creek kayaking 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.