Get out your paddling gear, its time! Yeah, I’m talking to you! You know who you are. For those of you who have been waiting for the weather to get warmer, the air temp is getting into the mid to high 70s and some days the 80s and we are still getting rain so now is the perfect time.
Here is a short kayaking video of me running one of my favorite local runs on the Upper Amicalola this last Sunday to get you in the mood. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this river its off of 53 in Dawson County, GA. I would also recommend the Lower Amicalola from 53 to Kelly Bridge which you can check out on one of my other posts on the Amicalola.
So, I was fortunate enough to get another trip out to Park City this year late February through March 6th. There was plenty of fresh powder on Tuesday the 26th the day I flew in so we headed straight from the airport to The Bird. There was barely any people on the tram and though visibility was poor that day with the snow still emptying into Little Cottonwood it was nothing but top to bottom powder runs that day.
Here is some footage from a bluebird powder day later into my trip the following week:
Directions: from 575 N take Ridgewalk Pkwy Exit 9, go right and take the first left onto Rope Mill Rd. and follow it to the end.
From 575 S, take Ridgewalk Pkwy Exit 9, go left and take your first left onto Rope Mill Rd. and follow it to the end.
Park Amenities: Mountain bike/hiking trails, Little River observation decks, picnic tables, pavilion, Rope Mill ruins
Trail Length: 14 miles
Difficulty: Beginner to intermediate
This is one of the places we take the kids when we don’t feel like driving. There’s plenty to do wether you feel like hiking, fishing, cycling or free running through the ruins (the kids’ favorite activity).
The main trail system is on the parking lot side of the bridge. There is a .5 mile paved walking path and 9.25 miles of easy to moderate trails. Hikers are welcome on the trails but they are for mountain bikes so they ask that hikers give all bikes the right of way and remember to travel the opposite way of bike traffic. The directions differ depending on the day.
The schedule is as follows: Left or Clockwise on Mon, Wed, Fri, & Sun. Right or Counter-Clockwise Tues, Thurs, &Sat.
The trails to the ruins are across the bridge from the parking lot and even though they are open to mountain bikers they mostly see foot traffic. The ruins are considered unstable and there are warning signs so be careful. The trail continues upriver a while and offers many vantage points and places to fish. Dogs are also welcome in this park and on the trails!
This is by far one of the best sections of the Etowah River for its natural beauty and what it offers in the way of rapids. Aside from a couple sections upstream this is one of the only sections on the Etowah with significant rapids. Most of the rapids are small drop and pool style and are not at all technical. However, Etowah Falls consists of two large consecutive drops (total drop approx. 10 ft) then a lower drop 3-4 ft high. This rapid isn’t too difficult under normal flows and as long as you have the proper gear I highly recommend it. Its a lot of fun! If you’d like to do this run but want to skip this particular rapid you can portage river right during the flat after Warning Drop leading to the first drop. Note: The portage is about 60-70ft and down some steep terrain so for those with bigger boats, you may need to help each other with your boats and gear.
For those of you who want to run the next section to 136, you’ll notice there are a couple spots available for camping river right at Castleberry.
Here is a link to my video for this and the next section including Etowah Falls and the tunnel:
Directions: To reach the put-in, take Highway 9 about 4.5 miles southwest from Dahlonega or north from the intersection with with Highway 136 (about 7.2 miles) or Castleberry Bridge Road (about 5.1 miles). The put-in is under the south (river right) end of the bridge: look for a dirt road on the west side of Highway 9. Parking is available under the bridge.
To reach the access at Castleberry Bridge, take Castleberry Bridge Road west about a mile from Auraria Road (the turn is at the largely abandoned town of Auraria, 6.7 miles north of Highway 136: look for a “historical site” marker on the left or an old, brown, abandoned hotel building on right) or east about 3.1 miles from Highway 9 (the turn from Highway 9 is 5.1 miles southwest of the put-in or 2.1 miles north of Highway 136 (turn just past the tall water tank on the right)). Roadside parking is available and the access is down the path at the northwest corner of the bridge.
To reach the Highway 136 take-out, follow Highway 136 west from Highway 400 or the south end of Auraria Road or east from Highway 9. The designated parking area is roadside and west of the bridge, at the end of the long guardrail on the north shoulder of the road: parking is also available on the other three corners of the bridge. Be careful, as traffic on Highway 136 tends to move fast and lines of sight are limited.