|Stretch:||Swallow Falls Rd to River View Terrace|
|Difficulty:||Class IV to IV+|
|Flows:||~300 to ~1,000 cfs. Visit the AW flow page|
|Gradient:||96 fpm for the first 2.0 miles|
|Put-in:||Bridge on Swallow Falls Rd|
|Take-out:||Private road access “River View Terrace”|
|Shuttle:||3.5 miles (6 minutes one way)|
|Season:||Winter and Spring from rain plus occasional thunderstorms in Summer and Fall|
|Featured in A Wet State #99|
North East Roadtrip 2015 – Day 1 Morning
This roadtrip came out of my desire to travel north to states that I had never been to. To be honest, paddling in Vermont and New Hampshire had never been high on my list, but after moving to Knoxville, I figured I had to jump at the opportunity to visit some of these states that I doubt I will have the opportunity to visit otherwise. So the plan was born. Drive North, boating on the way, spend time in Pennsylvania (new state for me), boating in New York, Vermont (new state), New Hampshire (new state), and Maine (new state) before turning around and beginning to boat our way back. And all things considered, the plan worked out pretty well despite some last minute changes to the route and goals based on the flows as the trip came. Left on the list for next time were the Bottom Moose, Johns Brook, Small Falls, Sandy Stream, and the Upper Pemi. But that is a good thing, maybe that will inspire me to return!
The departure plan was to leave at 6 pm on Friday from Knoxville, drive for 7.5 hours (or as far as we could go), sleep, wake up and meet folks at 9 am at take-out. Aggressive. Perhaps. Making it more aggressive was that we also intended to do Lower Big Sandy after and then continue driving north approximately 9 more hours to Vermont that evening! Luckily, Diane got off of work 3 hours early so we were able to leave at 3 pm, arriving at the Yough at 11:30 pm. Waking in the morning we met up with some new friends who we found on facebook and set off to set shuttle. One day in, and things were already going amazingly smoothly… did I mention it was forecasted to be ~80 degrees this day? Does it get better?
Once on the water, our group made quick progress downriver, briefly scouting Swallow Falls before having a local catch us and proceed to show us all the great boofs on the run for the rest morning, thus helping us make quick time to take-out by 11 am!
The run went by in a blur, but it really was quite good quality. Other than Swallow Falls, you are treated to numerous great boofs amid continuous boulder gardens which ebb and flow in difficulty. The crux of the run is a rapid with a sizable sieve just off line near the top. If you are pushing your limits on this run, this rapid will get your heart going and should at least be scouted so you can see the hazard. For folks who are comfortable on class IV, the move away from the hazard will be mellow and thus making the rapid very enjoyable.
Not far downstream though, the rapids quickly end and you paddle a brief flat (but moving) section down to take-out. Common is for folks to run numerous laps… or if you are lucky the Upper will have water allowing you to just keep on continuing downriver for 11 miles or so of boating! For us though, we quickly did our shuttle and set off to set shuttle for the Lower Big Sandy for an afternoon run!
Oh and for reference, we had 445 cfs on our day, I thought it was a great flow. Didn’t feel low, and certainly didn’t feel high either.
Next: North East Roadtrip: Day 1 Afternoon (Lower Big Sandy)
- Swallow Falls (IV+). No warm up here, just downstream from put-in hop out on the left to scout. Two lines are common, one is right of center down the main ramp, trying to avoid getting too far right. The other is a hard middle to left cut that some feel is easier.
Swallow Tail (IV to IV+). Just downstream is a rather sticky ledge. We ran right of center off a boof rock. A little off either way though would result in a sticky hole. OK if you are straight… but… be straight.
- Muddy Creek (IV). Muddy Creek enters on the left. Not only is this in the middle of a fun rapid, but looking up the creek will display on of the tallest waterfalls in Maryland. A really nice place. Downstream are a few more rapids with great boofs down the left.
- Stout Hole (IV). The river gets wider before converging and dropping over a sticky ledge in the middle. You can boof it or drive to the left around it. Just below is another cool boof right of center.
- Suck Hole (IV to IV+). Although Swallow Falls gets the glory of the run, this in my mind is the crux of the run. A large sieve is in play to the right of the river, the move away from it is class III to IV, but should be taken seriously. To make matters worse the lead in rapid is fairly long. Once at lip you will want to just follow the water. This results in a center to left line through one small hole before dropping through the main channel left of center. At this point you are clear of the sieve. Downstream, charge through some pillowing holes and hit a boof at the bottom if you are so inclined. I imagine at higher flows the lead in for this rapid can become more tricky.
- Slot Rapid (IV-). The last rapid before the paddle out has a cool slot line if you want to take it, boofing into a 90 degree turn and pinch in the middle of the river. Or you can go to the right around it.
For more details on the run, see the AW write-up...
Take-out: Head south on MD-42 out of Friendsville, continuing for 7.4 miles which then turns into US 219 which you continue on for 0.9 miles. Then, turn right on Sang Run Rd and continue for 0.6 miles before turning left on Hoyes Run Rd. Follow this for 3.3 miles to the T and turn right at Oakland Sang Run Rd, parking at parking area just before the sharp turn and climb up. You can also reach this from the Upper’s put-in via Oakland Sang Run Rd as well.
Put-in: Continue 2.3 miles upriver on Oakland Sang Run Rd before turning right on Swallow Falls Rd. Follow this 1.1 miles to the parking area on the left just before the bridge.
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