Bull Sluice on the Chattooga River sits right on the border between Georgia and South Carolina. The Chattooga River forms much of the border between the two states and actually runs right down the middle of the river with an invisible line. There are a few places to access the Chattooga in Georgia (you can read about our favorite spot at the bottom of our Deliverance article). But the most popular spot is without a doubt Bull Sluice as it is easily accessible from Clayton Georgia and is less than 10 minutes off the heavily trafficked 441 road that runs into Western North Carolina. Technically the parking lot and river bank is in South Carolina but walk out into the river and you will be back in Georgia.
We could go on and on about the Chattooga River as it is one of the wildest and oldest rivers in all of the Southeast. When you walk down along the banks it feels like you are stepping back in time, especially when you end up there all by yourself.
The river stays pretty busy in the spring as whitewater season for kayaks and rafts is starting up. If you are looking to raft or kayak, we definitely recommend the spring as there aren’t a ton of people out just yet, the temperatures are still cool and the water flow is at it’s highest. Bull Sluice is a class IV+ rapid with it becoming slightly harder during higher water but it remains one of the most popular rapids to run as it is close to the road either for putting in or taking out.
During the summer it doubles as a popular swimming hole for locals on the weekdays and for visitors on weekends so in summer months expect to be around a crowd, whether it be boaters or swimmers.
To watch the kayakers and rafts run the rapid, park in the parking lot on the left hand side of the road (see directions below) and follow the paved trail down until it splits. The trail to the left will take you to a sandy beach down river and the trail to the right will take you over to a series of rocks that you can sit down on and watch everyone as they go down Bull Sluice. On weekends, you can expect to see dozens of people with blankets and towels sitting on the rock watching the near non-stop run of kayakers.
Bull Sluice is also a great swimming hole. There are two primary safe places to swim. The first is the sandy beach area (take the split trail to the left). Here the river is covered in small (and some very large) rocks so this is an ideal spot to wade around and climb over rocks as you can go 20 yards out and never be above your waist, making this a great spot for kids. Keep your eyes open though as we usually see a snake or two here lounging in the sun on a rock. They are always non-venomous water snakes but we wouldn’t be surprised to see something bigger or more dangerous at some point.
The other swimming option is up by Bull Sluice. You can get to it by going down river about 50 yards from the sitting rocks mentioned above until you get to a shallow sandy area that gradually gets deeper but is ankle to shin deep in a huge spot. This too is a great place for kids to swim and play around. You can also access this spot by following the trail down from the beach area alongside the river. The swimming area here is on the trail side and most kayakers end up on the far side, however be courteous and remember that we share the river with each other so be respectful and try to stay out of their way so you don’t end up getting leveled.
If you swim across the river there is a rock on the far side that you can jump off of into the water. And if you ask a local, they may be willing to show you a small cave/hole you can jump in that will shoot you out.
Fishing here is alright but because of the busy activity in this area, it is usually better to fly fish in the upper sections of the Chattooga. Although if you want to bring a small rod and try your luck, you can do so around the bridge and near the sandy beach section. We have seen people pull out small shoal bass but very rarely do we see any trout.
Directions: From Clayton, Georgia take US 76 8 miles. You will then cross a bridge over the river and will have a spot on the right to park if you want to go down on that side and a big parking lot with bathrooms on the left hand side of the road. We recommend parking on the left hand side and following the paved path to either the beach or the actual Bull Sluice rapid.