Over a year ago the City of Atlanta City Council passed motion to open a park along the Chattahoochee at the site of the Atlanta water intake facility, by the Hooch Wave.
Every year someone asks about the Hooch Wave and how to get to it. It was formed by a weir on the Chattahoochee just below the Atlanta water intake. Weirs make an ideal wave, as you can see by this photo from AW. I last visited the wave one morning in November 2010 with Rick Thomspon, and it looked a lot like this picture.
Accessing the wave is tedious, as one must park in a sketchy area and hike through a lot of muck. Rick Thompson and I visited the wave one morning in November 2010, to see what it was like. Jim Wade, an internationally competitive kayaker who also happens to be a PhD student at Georgia Tech, had told me that the island on river right of the wave had washed out a few years ago and that the waterworks had totally remade the area. Once the park was open, it was on my bucket list to check out the park and see how the wave has changed. Nobody has posted any info on the AW website since May 2012. And changed it has.
Standing Peachtree Park is entered via the same entrance as the Atlanta water intake. Enter off of Ridgewood Rd. The sign says it is open 8am to 8pm. But how to get to the river is not obvious. The captions in my photos chronicle how to find the river (it is not obvious), but here is a summary of what I found:
- The park is open 8am to 8pm. River access is via the second gate after the parking (you have to walk) and veer left down the grassy hill.
- It took me 8-10 minutes carrying my boat to get to the river.
- At the river, there is an 8-10 foot bank to get down. Easy down, harder up, would be harder with a canoe. Climbing out, it kind of reminded me of the Locust Fork takeout, but only half as bad.
- This would be an ideal access point for paddling the Metro Hooch down a bit further. If you don’t mind carrying your boat a bit!
- River levels were 1050 cfs.
- The wave is no longer a wave. More like a drop. The reconstruction of the island and the weir has led to something that really isn’t a weir anymore. It is a pile of rocks, more like Rock Jumble on the Chattooga or the busted damn at the Tuck putin.
- I am not a playboater, but I do not mind surfing. Nothing seemed surfable to me. At least in a playful way. Maybe a spud boat could do something in there, but my Dagger Juice could not.
- At higher flows, this could become an epic hole.
- The ledges on the river-right (Cobb) side of the island are tame at nominal flows. However, I would like to come back at 2000 cfs or higher. There seemed to be several spots with potential. One could sink my bow, but the water was shallow enough that I could not get any pop out of it.
- The river wide surf wave, apparently formed by the sewage treatment outflow pipe that extends across the river, is really glassy. All the outflow appeared to be below the surface on river left.
I saw a lot of wildlife. The usual hooch creatures: turtles (many, and huge), muskrats, herons. Also two adult deer!
Based on some Facebook comments to this post (thanks!), I want to add something else. The city signage implies this is an access point for boating. The current drop by the waterworks is not exactly navigable for the typical river user. A whitewater boater could run it, but it really is now just water down a big pile of rocks. The older weir-type design channeled the water into a clear smooth drop. This both formed the wave but also made the drop runnable by regular or irregular recreational boaters. The city should be approached about modifying the drop to make it more easily navigable — removing a few rocks in the middle to create a channel (and a wave!) is an obvious solution.