Shortly after putting our raft in the wild and untamed Chattooga River, my dad nearly plunged into churning waters at the base of Seven Foot Falls.
Luckily for him, I was feeling generous, and a quick grab kept him in the raft.
Happy Birthday Day, Dad.
I splurged on the six-hour rafting trip on a river known for its Class IV and V rapids. It was famously featured in the 1974 movie “Deliverance,” starring Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight.
Tucked along the border of northern Georgia and South Carolina, the Chattooga is designated a Wild and Scenic River by the National Forest Service, meaning the free flow of the river and the surrounding areas are protected, offering a thrilling time in a pristine setting.
We opted for a guided trip with the folks at the Nantahala Outdoor Center and had an excellent trip with our guide, Tanner, and another father-son duo from North Carolina.
Section IV of the Chattooga boasts a number of class IV and V rapids, including the famed Five Falls section which features five class IV-V rapids in one-third of a mile of the river. Though the NOC rates the river as advanced, no previous paddling experience is required, just a willingness to paddle at the direction of their expert guides.
But there’s no guarantee paddlers will stay in the boat. At Seven Foot Falls, for example, we successfully traversed the rapid but a precarious tip and a bounce at the bottom almost threw my dad from the raft.
The trip also included a few stops at swimming holes where paddlers could jump off overhangs, plunging about 15 feet into the river. The guides also put together an excellent spread of sandwiches, fruit, vegetables and cookies for lunch.
The culmination of the trip, the famed Five Falls section of the river, proved the river’s reputation as the premiere paddling experience in the Southeast. This heart-pounding stretch of the river drops more than 75 feet over one-third of a mile, covering five electrifying rapids.
Although the Five Falls were intimidating, the guides’ expertise with the river ensured successful navigation of each plunge.