Big Shoals

Big Shoals

Approximate size (acres): GA 6,069; SC 2,896
Old-growth known (acres): GA 46; SC 36

Big Shoals is an island of mountains. The Chattooga River, West Fork of the Chattooga, Warwoman Creek, and the Warwoman Shear form natural boundaries, and box in a rugged mountain ridge. The roadless area itself extends across the river into South Carolina.

Named for a class III rapid, the Mountain Treasure contains Section II of the river. The alluvial bottoms that flank the river here, which are the largest anywhere on the Georgia side, contrast with the gorge topography found elsewhere along the Chattooga. Native Americans almost certainly farmed these alluvial bottoms since they lie across the river from the village site known as Cherokee Old Town. In the 1770s, shortly after the village was abandoned, William Bartram passed through the area recording observations and collecting plants. Later European settlers formed isolated communities farming those alluvial bottoms and the lower sections of the West Fork and Warwoman Creek. Multiple small cemeteries remain from that era.

Today, the area calls out to a broad spectrum of recreationists. Horseback riders call the Willis Knob trails their favorite on the Chattooga River Ranger District, and Bartram’s route is now a long-distance hiking trail. Section II provides opportunities for casual boaters while all of the large streams draw anglers. Dick’s Creek Falls, more descriptively known as Five Fingers Falls, provides a highlight along the river. Despite the long history of human use, the area’s steepest slopes and highest elevations still support a large concentration of old-growth, the farthest downstream of any such concentrations in the Chattooga Watershed.

Help us protect this 16,000-acre oasis of waterfalls, old-growth, rare species, panoramic views, and world-class trails.


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