Playspot: USA, Georgia, Clayton area, Tallulah River, Hole below Oceana
What's it like
Right below Oceana (the big drop at the beginning) there is a great little cartwheel hole towards the right of the river. It is small, but nicely retentive (good for throwing multiple ends and doing all kinds of hole tricks).
The river on the whole is sort of creeky: there are two major drops, Oceana and Bridal Veil. Both are slides, Oceana being more tricky (more consequences) than Bridal Veil. There isn't a way to hike in to paddle just one of them, so once you're down the 500 and some odd stairs to get in the gorge, you're in for the duration.
Here's the catch: you can only paddle Tallulah 5 weekends a year. The first 3 in November, and the first 2 in April.
Yet another catch: you have to have a permit. You can find details in American Whitewater or on their web site: www.awa.org. The deal is basically: get yours in by January 1 for both that year's April Release and November's Release. You're allowed 5 folks on your permit, So take a 5x6 index card and put this info on it: Name, Address, Phone Number, Name of 5 people. One of these people HAS to be there if you aren't in order to claim the permit for that weekend, otherwise it goes up for grabs. So put at least one real person's name. But list 5 people, otherwise you'll be issued a permit for just 1 (complicated procedure) weekend the permit you're requesting. On the envelope, be sure to put on the bottom right corner the date of the weekend you're requesting, and the number of people in your permit. Include a self addressed stamped envelope. Request each weekend individually. OK, 20 people get permits. That means 100 people on the river. Then there are 20 walk ons. You show up that Saturday and Sunday morning, put your name in a hat, and they draw 20 names. Nothing is guaranteed, but usually you can get on if you show up, because others don't, and that opens up permit spots.
How to get there
Take I-85 to Clemson SC. Turn on Highway 76 at Clemson's exit. Take this towards Clayton. Get on 440 Through Clayton, GA. Continue past Clayton and then after about 10-13 miles you'll cross a bridge. This is the Tallulah Bridge. Right after the Bridge is a parking lot up the hill on the right. Pull in and park. You can't camp in the parking area: the best bet for that is before the bridge on your left is the Jane Hurt Observation Area, and there is a camping area there. They let kayakers park in the pavilion for $5 a night, including showers/washer/dryer access. Good deal. Do it.
Locals from all over. Woody and Risa Calloway basically run the show. Woody runs your shuttle for you with the Perception Truck, so that's one thing less you have to worry about. You park up the hill, walk across the street, walk down 500 stairs, paddle, take out, and they drive you to your car!
The first weekend in April is the Tallulah Falls Festival. Lots of local vendors come out with great food and AWA and a few boat companies set up booths. They have a video showing at night. It's fun.