A team of kayakers and canoeists explored the upper Chattooga River last week, an exploratory trip that may bolster the U.S. Forest Service to lift a 30-year ban on paddling the river section.

The team paddled the Class IV-V Rock Gorge section of the Chattooga, located between Burrells Ford and Highway 28, Jan. 5. The group traveled upstream to paddle part of the Class IV-V Chattooga Cliffs section and the Class IV Ellicott Rock section the next day.

The United States Forest Service banned boating on the upper reaches of the Chattooga in 1976. American Whitewater has been working for more than a decade to reverse this ban. AW's efforts gained traction after a 2004 appeal of the prohibition, after which the USFS acknowledged there was no basis for it.

Paddling the river remains prohibited until the USFS reaches a new decision later this year. Citizens can file comments online or by contacting the USFS project manager, John Cleeves, at