Runnable below the spectacular High Falls in Monroe County from late November to May, the Towaliga is a pleasantly scenic stream with good access. The river begins in the central Piedmont, flowing south out of Henry County before emptying shortly thereafter into the Ocmulgee above Juliette. Along the way, Towaliga River kayaking snakes a winding path through an intimate forested valley. If you’re looking for excitement, a few tributaries in the area also contain significant drops, including Rocky Creek and the Little Towaliga River.
Get an Overview of the Altamaha River Watershed where the Towaliga River is located.
USGS and County Maps for Towaliga River Kayaking
High Falls, Indian Springs, Forsyth, Berner, East Juliette (USGS); Monroe (County)
Towaliga River Kayaking from High Falls State Park to GA 42
Class: I-II (III); Length: 8.9 miles; Time: 5-6 hours; Gauge: None; Level: N/A; Gradient: 8 feet per mile; Scenery: B
The upper section of Towaliga River kayaking kicks off with a bang: the spectacular High Falls. The main drop of the falls is below the bridge and off-limits to paddlers. However, a trail along the left bank provides a number of possible put-ins immediately below the falls, depending on which of the subsequent rapids you are willing to tackle. The river here broadens to 300 feet, with large ledges and boulder rapids continuing for several hundred feet. These rapids are technical in low water, but due to the width of the stream, they create numerous sneak routes at higher levels. In any event they would not exceed Class III in difficulty. Easy access is available on river right for those who want to put-in below the rapids.
For the first 5 miles of Towaliga River kayaking, hills rise sharply from the streamside as the Towaliga runs through 4- to 6-foot reddish clay banks. The river narrows first to 80 feet and then shortly thereafter to its average width of 45 to 60 feet. From here to the Mayfield Road bridge (B) the river is at its best with delightful, bouncy rapids and ledges interspersed with long pools overhung by white oak, sweetgum, red maple, hickory, sycamore, and beech. The occasional rapids approach low Class II in difficulty and get easier as you proceed downstream. The current is moderate to swift, and usually runs brown with a high concentration of sediment. Dangers in this section, other than the rapids mentioned, are limited to deadfalls.
To the take-out, take Exit 193 off of I-75. Turn east off of the exit onto Johnstonville Road and continue to GA 42 north. Turn left at GA 42; the access point (C) is at the bridge 0.8 miles ahead. To return to the put-in, take GA 42 back to Johnstonville Road and turn right. Continue 1.3 miles to a right turn on Boxankle Road; take Boxankle to High Falls Park Road. Turn right and proceed to High Falls State Park. A mid-run access point is at Mayfield Road, 2.7 miles north of the intersection of Boxankle and Johnstonville roads.
None. At a minimum, there should be a couple of inches of water spilling over the dam at High Falls before attempting a run.
Towaliga River Paddling from GA 42 to Juliette on the Ocmulgee
Class: I; Length: 13.7 miles; Time: 8 hours; Gauge: None; Level: N/A; Gradient: 2 feet per mile; Scenery: B
The hills recede gradually as a corridor of cultivated land encroaches on the river just upstream of the GA 42 bridge. For the next 10 miles of Towaliga River kayaking, the river runs with only an occasional riffle as the gradient flattens to 2 feet per mile. The greatest obstacle of this section is attributable to the forest, which at times appears to be falling into the streambed, and is also the source of beauty along this section. Portaging around trees slows forward progress, as does the sandy river bottom that keeps you guessing where the deepest channel lies.
Below US 23, the gradient increases to 15 feet per mile for the last short stretch of Towaliga River kayaking before the river merges into the Ocmulgee, upstream of Juliette. On the banks, catalpa, ash, and birch become more common, and the river continues to be well shaded. The take-out is on river right, 0.5 miles upstream of the dam.
The take-out for Towaliga River Kayaking is north of Juliette on the Ocmulgee River. From the intersection with US 23/GA 87, proceed east on Juliette Road. River access is available down the dirt road on the left, immediately after the railroad tracks on the far side of Juliette. To return to the put-in, take Juliette Road west to a right hand turn onto Byars Road. Continue to GA 83; turn left on GA 83 and continue 3.2 miles to a right turn onto Sutton Road. Follow Sutton to GA 42. Turn right on GA 42 and follow to the junction with the river.
There is no gauge. At a minimum, there should be a couple of inches of water spilling over the dam at High Falls before attempting a run. More water would increase the comfort factor on the lower section, but this section should be avoided in high water situations.
This Towaliga River 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.