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Kayaking the Lower Toccoa River - Curtis Switch to Horseshoe Bend Park

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We finally scouted out out first paddle trip on the new kayaks. There are many resources on kayaking the Toccoa, unfortunately, its very difficult to find and usually only one part of the story. The Toccoa exists before and after Lake Blue Ridge Dam. The Upper Toccoa which releases into Lake Blue Ridge is not dam controlled waters, while the Lower Toccoa that releases from Blue Ridge Dam is dam controlled. There are a few things to consider before planning a trip:

  1. Dam release times and how and where that will affect you.
  2. Put in and take out locations.
  3. Transportation from those locations.
First, dam release times are critical depending on the type of trip you wish to take. If the waters have not been released from the dam into the Toccoa, you will have a much slower trip, the river will be very shallow in parts meaning that you will scrap the bottom every now and again, plus you will need to paddle to reach your destination.

Our first trip down the river from Curtis Switch was without any flow waters. The first mile probably contained some of the most shallow sections, and we both found ourselves stuck on rocks several times. You really need to navigate around the shallows, but there is no avoiding hitting bottom. That said, we had heard it would be a terrible trip without the water flowing to its maximum, but minus a few frustrating moments, it was a very enjoyable trip and a nice learning experience. I would to it again.

To do a Dam Release trip you will need the release information from the TVA, an understanding when this flow will reach your put in, and when the flow will reach your take out.

The TVA published dam releases with around 24 hour notice. To find the release information for the Toccoa:
  1. Visit www.tva.org
  2. Select Reservoir Info on the left hand side of the page
  3. On the Choose a Reservoir drop down, select Blue Ridge
  4. Select View Info
Under Releases you'll see the release dates and times. It is only being released for a particular date and time if the generator is set to 1.

For a trip leaving Curtis Switch, you need to wait 3 hours after the release times before putting in. It takes 2 hours for the flow water to reach Curtis Switch, then you want to wait a little bit to ensure they get in front of your kayak, else you'll paddle faster than the release and hit bottom.

Our next trips we always coordinate with the dam release schedule and the water is moving so much faster you could just float most of the time if you want, but we enjoy paddling and speed the trip up even more that way.

Blue Ridge Weekender