Sutton Hole Hiking Trail
HIKE SUMMARY: Location: Eastern Blue Ridge Mountains, Chattooga National Wild and Scenic River; Features: Chattooga River, Woodall Shoals; Distance: 0.3 mile; Difficulty Rating: easy; County: Rabun; Nearest City: Clayton; Maps: Rainy Mountain Quadrangle, GA-SC; Chattooga Wild and Scenic River map; Blazes: None, none needed; Ranger District: Tallulah
The trail quickly descends through an oak-pine forest to Sutton Hole, where the Chattooga River is deep and slow enough for swimming. To the right, downstream, you can see and hear the beginning of the river's only lawfully canoed Class VI rapid-Woodall Shoals, a long pitch of white water famous for its whale-sized rock and its boat-holding hydraulic.
Depending upon the time of year and level of the river you can bushwhack, rock-hop, or wade the 300 yards down to the shoals. Woodall's fast water has scoured a beautiful pool, wide and deep and green, with a white sand beach on its Georgia side.
Mile 0.3: Sutton Hole, a deep swimming hole on the Chattooga. Woodall Shoals, a Class VI rapid, is just downstream.
From Clayton, take US 76 East toward Westminster, South Carolina. If you are traveling northward on US 441, the turn will be to your right. After driving approximately 7.5 miles on US 76 East, turn right onto unpaved FS 290, Woodall Shoals Road, and continue on this road for slightly less than 0.3 mile. In the middle of a sharp curve to the right, you will see a narrow road, unmarked and blocked with a dirt mound, to the left. FS 290-A, which leads to the trailhead, is inside and to the right of this blocked road.
FS 290-A (Woodall Shoals Spur Road) should not be attempted in a conventional vehicle. If you don't have a pickup or a jeep but want to see the Chattooga River at Sutton Hole, you will have to hike this road - only 0.5 mile long and easily walked - to the trailhead. There is a pull-off near the entrance of FS 290-A. The trail begins at the turnaround area where further vehicular travel is blocked by dirt mounds. This is also the boundary of the Chattooga National Wild and Scenic River, and travel is by foot only.