Forming a natural 50-odd-mile stretch of state line between South Carolina and Georgia, the Chattooga River is one of the rivers that inspired the novel-turned-film Deliverance. (It was also a shooting location.) Passing through three national forests in wild Appalachia, the Chattooga’s flow peaks in spring, culminating in some famously hairy class IV’s and V’s in its lower sections.
Until this past December, paddling in the river’s upper reaches in North Carolina was banned by the Forest Service, but now sections are open for business until April 30. Be aware, this part of the river is a DIY affair, but well worth it for the adventurous.
Downstream is where you’ll find rafting outfitters. Southeastern Expeditions, Wildwater Rafting, and Nantahala Outdoor Center all do single- and multi-day packages starting under $90. Wildwater also can set you up for stand up paddleboarding in Lake Tugaloo, Chattooga’s terminus.