Kayak Warwoman Creek, and Drop 100 Feet in 4 Miles Before Joining the Chattooga

warwoman creek kayaking
Warwoman Creek kayaking. Photo from YouTube video by Mike Tipton

By Suzanne Welander

Are you interested in spring creekin’ but aren’t quite ready for Overflow, the Chauga, or even lower Amicalola? Try Warwoman Creek kayaking up in Rabun County. It drops close to 100 feet in 4 miles before running into the Chattooga at Earls Ford. Warwoman is appropriate for solid intermediate-level paddlers, but the party should include an experienced leader. A dirt road, albeit a short distance away, provides difficult, but do-able, land extraction options. Unusually scenic, Warwoman is a good creek to practice eddy turns, side surfing, boat-scouting drops, and water reading. The water flows at a very rapid rate, helping to create lots of nice relatively technical Class II rapids, even more surfing holes, and three significant Class III drops. Scout the various blind drops, as they are technical and can be dangerous because of undercuts and possible strainers.

USGS and County Maps for Warwoman Creek Kayaking

Rabun Bald, Satola (USGS); Rabun (County)

Earls Ford Road to Sandy Ford on the Chattooga River


Class: IIi (+); Length: 4.2 miles (plus 3.1 on the Chattooga); Time: 5 hours; Gauge: web; Level: 2.5 feet; Gradient: 22 feet per mile; Scenery A-


Seldom boated, Warwoman Creek kayaking is a delightful, intimate experience for intermediate and advanced paddlers that can only be run when the Chattooga is high. If you get to the put-in and it looks too low, it is. It is possible to limit the run to 4 miles by taking out at Earls Ford, but the shuttle is rather long and you’ll miss the opportunity to do the upper reaches of the Chattooga’s Section III at high level. Taking out at Sandy Ford on the Georgia side adds another 90 feet of gradient drop.

This Warwoman Creek kayaking run starts just below the Earls Ford Road’s bridge crossing the creek. Warwoman begins gently with a Class I-II warm-up. Mattress, the first drop of consequence, is found as the river veers away from the road about 15 minutes from the put-in, and is easily recognized by a distinct horizon line that formerly held a mattress pinned to a boulder. Mattress is a blind, sloping, 10- foot 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. Enter 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 upend and don’t make shore, a narrow gorge will drop you another 10 feet or so over about 100 yards.

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

Pin Ball, technically the most difficult drop, completes the named rapids. Pin Ball presents with an obvious horizon line and can be scouted from the right bank-the run is down the left chute. 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. There is a left-hand eddy about 5 feet down (try to backferry into it). Park here to scan the remaining Warwoman Creek kayaking 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.

Another 3 miles of sporadic Class I-II water, including a 5- foot ledge below the Warwoman ford crossing of Earl’s Ford Road, brings you to the confluence with the Chattooga at Earls Ford. You still have Warwoman, Rock Garden, Three Rooster Tails, Dicks Creek Ledge, Stairsteps, and Sandy Ford rapids ahead of you if you’ve opted for the Sandy Ford take-out. Those who have not done Section III above 2 feet should be aware that traditional lines change and more options open up for the significant rapids. Scout the major drops and plan your attack accordingly. Sandy Ford rapid, barely noteworthy at lower levels, transforms into a low-Class IV boat-eater above 3 feet. Stay to the right of the island for the Class III run. The Sandy Ford takeout is on river right, immediately below the island.

Shuttle for Warwoman Creek Kayaking

To get to Warwoman Creek kayaking, drive to Clayton. Turn right at the second light (going north and across from the Dairy Queen), follow it to the end, and turn right on Warwoman Road. For the take-out at Sandy Ford, go about 6 miles and turn right onto Sandy Ford Road. Follow it to the very end, about 6 miles. You will ford Dicks Creek; all but the lowest clearance will make the ford at levels up to 3 feet, although four-wheel-drive will help traverse the remaining 1 mile to the river when conditions are wet. The other take-out at Earls Ford is accessed via a very long shuttle to the South Carolina side (see the Chattooga, Section Ill, for driving directions). To the Warwoman put-in, return to Warwoman Road and turn right; go about 2 miles and turn right onto Earls Ford Road. Put-in at the bridge; there is a large turn-out for parking on the left below the bridge.

Gauge for Warwoman Creek Paddling

There is no gauge on the creek. Chattooga levels can be used to estimate Warwoman’s flow, but they are not always correlated. Warwoman is usually runnable after any heavy or sustained rain that leaves the Chattooga at 2.5, and becomes more interesting around 4 feet. The maximum is 5 feet.

Read More About the Chattooga and It’s Tributaries

  • See an Interactive Map of all Chattooga Rapids CLICK HERE
  • Is the Free-Flowing Chattooga the Southeast’s Best Whitewater CLICK HERE
  • A Guide to Canoeing and Kayaking Section 3 CLICK HERE
  • Paddle the West Fork CLICK HERE
  • Experience Big Rapids on Overflow Creek CLICK HERE
  • Explore the Entire Chattooga River Corridor CLICK HERE

This Warwoman 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.

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