Two free flowing rivers run through Oconee County, SC:

The Chattooga River

Known for its history, whitewater rapids, and meandering, mountainous woodland passage. For adventure, scenery, fishing, camping or even just a lazy day, the Chattooga is a rare experience – one of the reasons being its federally designated Wild & Scenic status.

There are three forks of the Chattooga River.  The Chattooga River is the main fork, running along the state line of South Carolina and Georgia. The East Fork flows from North Carolina into Oconee County. The West Fork runs in from Rabun County, Georgia.

The Chattooga is classified in sections: 0, 00, 1, 2, 3 and 4.

The Chattooga River is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service.  Three companies are commercially licensed by the Forest Service to operate on the lower segment of the Chattooga River (Sections III and IV). These Chattooga River outfitters provide guided rafting trips and instructional clinics in whitewater canoeing and kayaking.

The Chauga River

While the Chattooga River may be more popular, Oconee County’s Chauga River also offers a multitude of cold water runs, riffles, pools and flat water.  It is popular with anglers and is regularly stocked with trout by the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery.

photo of the Chattooga River in the winter


Chattooga River

The Chattooga River is the boundary between GA & SC. It is nationally designated as Wild and Scenic and is protected from development. Known for whitewater rapids, and meandering, mountainous woodland passage. The lower sections of the Chattooga are considered among the best whitewater in the SE with heart-thumping Class III to Class VI rapids.


Chattooga River – Section 1

Section 1 is the West Fork of the Chattooga River. It’s a 6-mile stretch that is ideal for tubing and Class II float trips.


Chattooga River – Section 2

Section 2 is a good beginner whitewater section with class I and II rapids. This 7 mile run is a good day trip with opportunities to stop and picnic on large boulders, or stop to fish for trout. The Chattooga has excellent opportunities for fishing, camping, and hiking.


Chattooga River – Section 3

Long Creek/Mountain Rest, SC
Get Directions >

Section 3 is a 13-mile beautiful stretch of river with intermediate to advanced whitewater. Its a 4-6 hour trip down river. Section 3 put-in is at Earls Ford, and the take-out is the Highway 76 Bridge. There is 1/4 mile hike in and out of the river. The Chattooga River is under the jurisdiction of the US Forest Service. There is a self-permit system (no fee), where you fill out a form, drop a copy at the box near the put-in and carry the other copy with you down the river.


Chattooga River – Section 4

Section 4 is one of the most well-known sections of whitewater in the U.S. This 8-mile section includes major whitewater including Class IV-V rapids. It takes 4-5 hours to raft or paddle Section 4. Put-in at the Highway 76 Bridge, and take-out at Lake Tugalo. There is 1/4 mile hike to and from the river. The Chattooga River is under the jurisdiction of the US Forest Service. Anyone paddling on the river needs to fill out a permit (at the put-in) prior to getting on the river.


Chauga River

A 31 mile long tributary of the Tugaloo River that flows south to Lake Hartwell. The Chauga River offers much of the same scenic beauty and cool waters found nearby on the Chattooga River. Anglers like the Chauga River and often catch rainbow trout, brown trout, chubs, and redeye bass. Depending on the water level, sections of the Chauga are popular for whitewater kayaking. Good access and parking are available off Cassidy Bridge Road in Mountain Rest.

Sign up to know what’s going on in our towns!

Before you leave, subscribe to our newsletter with monthly events and happenings in Oconee County, South Carolina.