Cooper Creek Georgia kayaking is a delightful introduction to creeking and is suitable for intermediate or advanced paddlers. The creek runs through pristine wilderness and is one of the most primitive small streams in the state. It’s small and tight, and consequently, hosts a fair number of deadfalls. Scouting and portaging are possible at most major rapids. The creek is a major tributary of the Toccoa River.
Get an Overview of the Tennessee River Watershed where Cooper Creek is located
USGS and County Maps for Cooper Creek Georgia Kayaking
Mulky Gap (USGS); Union (County); Chattahoochee National Forest (USFS).
Cooper Creek Georgia Kayaking from FS 33A to Mulky Campground
Class: I-III (IV in high water); Length: 5.2 miles; Time: 4 hours; Gauge: None; Level: N/A; Gradient: 60 feet per mile; Scenery: A
Cooper Creek Georgia kayaking starts with Class I and II rapids and almost never has a flat section without something of interest. A mile or so from the put-in, a huge rock in the center of the stream and an obvious horizon line presage the first interesting rapid, Corner Pocket (Class III-). Scout the 5-foot drop from the large granite rock in the center of the stream. It can be run on either side, but the right side has a good surfing hole. Cooper Falls (Class III) follows almost immediately. This drop is a 16- foot slide which can’t be scouted but shouldn’t be any trouble.
After the slide the river gains in gradient and Class II rapids increase in frequency. After another mile or so the creek takes a sharp right turn. In about an eighth of a mile the last big drop occurs. This rapid is known as Grunch (an 8-foot waterfall) and should be scouted from the right bank. Run it on the left side, but be careful, as Grunch has smashed the deck plate of more than one canoe. Below Grunch, Cooper picks up even more in gradient and is almost continuous Class II for several miles. What looks like a low head dam is approached under the FS 236 bridge; don’t worry, it’s a simple Class II drop. Soon after the last drop and a few more Class I ripples, the takeout comes into view, and you should be able to see your car.
From Dahlonega, take GA 60 north. Stay on GA 60 to Suches; after passing into Suches, turn right onto GA 180 east. Continue on this road until you reach Lake Wilfred Scott Recreation Area. Immediately past the recreation area, turn left onto Cooper Creek Road, FS 33. Turn left when FS 33A branches off to the right. The unpaved road will become paved again and travel past some houses and farms, but don’t get worried. Turn right onto FS 236 and continue on this road until you come to a stop sign at the FS 4 junction. Turn left on FS 4 and proceed to the Mulkey Creek Campground on the left, the take-out for this Cooper Creek kayaking run. To reach the put-in, return to FS 33A. The put-in is at the bridge over the creek.
There is no gauge. Cooper will only be runable during rainy season or after a major rain. If the small island at the put-in is under water, it is runnable. If it looks too honkin’ high, it probably is.
This Cooper Creek Georgia 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.