Introduction to the Ocoee river

The Ocoee River is located in Polk County Tennessee just north of the Georgia State line. The river is entirely in only one county because the river’s name changes as it enters Tennessee from Georgia and it merges with and becomes the Hiwassee river while still in Polk County Tennessee. Upstream from the Georgia Tennessee state line the river is called the Toccoa River. The Toccoa/Ocoee river begins its journey deep in the Chattahoochee National Forest with headwaters near Suches Georgia. Numerous small trout streams flow together to form the Upper Toccoa; including Coopers Creek, Rock Creek and Noontootla creek. The creeks and river flow uninterrupted until it reaches the back waters of Lake Blue Ridge in Fannin County near Blue Ridge Georgia. The Dam which forms Blue Ridge lake is about 15 miles south of the Tennessee state line and is one of four dams and power generating facilities located on the Toccoa Ocoee river.

After the Toccoa waters are released from the Blue Ridge power house they flow gently with only occasional small rapids for about twelve miles before reaching McCaysville Ga and Copperhill, Tn a split town on the state line. The six-mile section of the river above MCaysville is great for tubing, floating and trout fishing. An Iron Bridge across the river in downtown marks the state line and it becomes the Ocoee river. About two miles from downtown the now Ocoee river reaches the confines of Ocoee Lake number three, backed up by Ocoee Dam number 3.

Just below Dam number three starts the Ocoee Whitewater Rafting ten-mile section of the Ocoee River. The initial section is the Upper Ocoee Rafting section followed by a very small Ocoee dam number two below which is the Middle Ocoee Rafting section of the river. The Ocoee River is one of the premier whitewater rafting rivers in the world and site of the 1996 Olympic Whitewater slalom event. Three Hundred thousand people come ever year to raft and play in the relatively warm water and Class Three and Four rapids. At the bottom of the whitewater section the Ocoee flows into Parksville lake which has been backed up by the last of the Ocoee dam’s, Ocoee Dam number one. Below Ocoee Dam number one the river is slow moving and without rapids until it reaches the confluence with the Hiwassee. This is again a great section for tubing or flat-water canoeing. A great longer flatwater canoe trip can start below Dam number one and continue all the way past the merge to Hiwassee Island on lake Chickamauga. The Ocoee gets it name from the Cherokee language meaning “Passion Flower”.