Hatchet Creek, AL

I’ve been looking around for places to paddle in the area and have heard of Hatchet Creek, running from the Talladega Nat’l. Forest to Lake Mitchell on the Coosa River. I’m mostly interested in the section between Hwy 280 and Hwy 231. Anyone actually done that run in kayak or canoe? Is it doable in one day and do you have any idea how much water is there now? I’d like to do the rest of it too, but need to do day trips not overnights. Is that possible without killing yourself paddling and is there enough water to do it this spring?

I’ve found the Hatchet Creek website, but there isn’t enough info there for me.


Have you found the USGS gauge?
The rule of thumb is, wait for 600 cfs or more before running it.

I have not run it yet, but any of the sections between highway bridges is short enough for a day trip, IF you have enough water. At least 600 cfs, and 1000 cfs is better.

Just reviewed Hatchet from space.
The watershed at the guage is relatively small (about 260 square miles) and the hwy 280 put in is well above that, well above where Socatepoy Creek comes in. I would suggest doing the section from hwy 231 to the next county bridge, and you’ll still have to wait for a seriously rainy period. Don’t mess with Socatepoy, that’s serious whitewater.

Have you checked at alabamawhitewater.com?

Thanks for the response. I did find the gauge here: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/al/nwis/uv?02408540. Looks like 600 is gonna be a fairly rare event. We’re going to the Coosa at Wetumpka later in the week and I’ll talk to one of the shops over there about it. Hopefully they’ll know someone who’s done it they can put me in touch with.

Hatchet Creek

Run: Hatchet Creek


Class: I (II) Put-In: US Hwy 280

Gradient: 14’/mile Take-Out: US Hwy 231

Length: 13 Water Q:

Shuttle: Hwy 280 / CR 49 / Hwy 231 Delorme Gazeteer: P. 38 C4/D4/E4/E3

Links: Hatchet website Primary Gage: Hatchet@Rockford - AL Power or (see text)

Hatchet blw Rockford

TOPO MAP Required Level: 600

PICTURES Indicator Gage:

TRIP REPORT Required Level:


A beautiful, clear creek located south of Sylacauga. The creek’s headwaters are located in the Talladega National Forest and it runs through mostly forested land until its flow is stopped by Lake Mitchell. The stream flows briskly below Highway 280. The pools are frequently interrupted by frisky shoals that add spice to the trip. The scenery is exceptional with only a few streamside cabins to remind the canoeist that you’re not in total wilderness. There is one Class II (+) drop on this section of creek. Maximum flow is about 2000 cfs. (Murray Carroll)

Lots of additional information, pictures, stories, and a map can be found at a dedicated Hatchet website. The gradient is a bit of an approximation, but fairly close. There are other sections to Hatchet, but I’m not sure they have any whitewater.

I don’t think you can correlate the 280 bridge gauge with the USGS gauge below 231. This is because you are trying to correlate two different points on a curve that varies it’s trajectory with increasing flow rates. Sometimes the USGS gauge says 3000cfs and 280 gauge says 3ft. Other times the USGS gauge says 1200cfs and the 280 gauge is still on 3ft?? So from my years of experience with this creek, you just can’t make an accurate computation about this creek and its large watershed. Anyway 2ft 11 is a great level for beginning canoeist. At this level you have great flow all the way to the take out. All the rocks are submerged so you have nothing to avoid hitting. There is only one rapid that is a strong class II at this level. It is easily portaged on the left. You can tell you’re near the rapid by noticing the new log cabin high above the rocks on your left. Eddy out just above the rapid on your left below the cabin. The creek is floatable at lower levels (1ft6in) but I’ve had my experience dragging and dodging. This is the ideal level for any beginners. - Fletcher Scott

AL Power number is 1 800 LAKES11, then 6…I think the USGS internet gage is the same as the Alabama Power gage, or is slightly downstream.

Maggie Johnston now owns the cabin on the hill across Talladega Creek from the Waldo Old Mill restaurant and rents it out as a guest house. This as an option for boaters who are interested in paddling Talladega Creek, Hatchet Creek or others in the area. See her VRBO site

I appreciate the info.