I chose Moderate / Difficult not because of this part of the river being hard, but because the water level and flow was well below the recommended minimum for our journey.
We put in at Highway 9 at Big Savannah - Dawson Forest, River Mile 39.5. Recommended flow 60 cfs or greater @ the Hwy 9 guage. Our flow @ launch was 55 cfs, so we knew it was going to be low. Launch time ~ 2:00 pm.
Our first day was to get as far down this first section as possible, but stop before the first takeout so we would be camping in Dawson Forest WMA.
The flow slow, and navigating was tricky. We had lots of rock scrubs/unintentional landings (henceforth dubbed "scrccccck"). Anything other than kayaks (and low ducking) would have had to clean trees and or limbs in several places. We went about 8 River miles and stopped for the night on an island in the river that was Rock on the front of the island, sand on the right, and a little patch of vegetation on the back. To our surprise we had a Full Harvest Moon! - No cell service, so no weather reports/ water level or flow reports.
Day 2 - We ate breakfast, broke camp and launched by 7 am. for a full day of the river. after about an hour, we came back into cell service and I found out the flow had dropped to below 50cfs! needless to say, in the deeper parts of the river you had to work to move (extremely low flow ), in the other parts of the river, you guessed it, here a scrccccck, there a scrccccck. and just before we stopped for the night at around River Mile 64, we had about an eighth of a mile of rock after rock, after torturous rock. We would maybe go 1 foot, then immediately get stuck on another rock. Luckily McGraw Ford WMA was just after this end of the day torture. We was setting up camp and hunting fire wood well after dusk. Luckily there was a great spot perfect to hang 3 hammocks in a triangle to put the camp fire in the center.
Day 3- We all slept great, and would have slept well into the morning, had the 2 trucks not come in to go hunting at around 5:30. We broke camp, ate, and launched by 7. This part of the river wasn't too bad, a lot of deep, very slow moving waters. Until it started raining, at first a light sprinkle, then slowly build up to a down-pour. It just so happened when we needed to be able to see the bottom the most (to navigate around scrccccck )is when it rained the hardest. Around noon we made it to the East Cherokee Dr. take-out and completed our adventure.
Day 1 - Launch at 2pm, traveled ~8 River Miles
Day 2 - Launch at ~7am, traveled ~16.5 River Miles
Day 3 - Launch at ~7am, traveled ~7.5 River Miles
Overall This was a GREAT trip and experience. Being the trip planner, I have learned a ton! would I do it again, absolutely.. but hopefully with a little more water next time, and if not like we said after packing up our gear before we left my house on Friday; knowing the water level was low... "lets do this, we didn't get dressed up for nothing!"
At the Launch - Port-a-potty, parking.
Along the way - Several take outs, some with parking fee, some with rest rooms
Takeout - very limited parking, *may need 4x4 if rain*, short carry from river to parking.
3 - Future Beach Trophy 126 Angler Kayak
Camping gear - hammocks, rain fly/ tarp, sleeping bags, other misc. camping and paddling gear
The launch is located on Ga. 9 south of Dawsonville. From the intersection of Ga. 400 and Ga. 369 north of Cumming, turn left on Ga. 369 (Browns Bridge Road) and proceed one mile to Ga. 9. Turn right and proceed 7.8 miles to the Etowah River. Launch area will be on your left after the bridge.
Google Maps and the "Etowah River User's Guide" - Both were great.