More Rides

Class V

Jul 1, 2001
Outside Magazine

The Upper Tuolumne River
Central California
Tumbling over tight chutes, ten-foot waterfalls, and granite boulders that form goalposts only a raft-width wide, the Upper Tuolumne is an expert kayaker's nirvana—and arguably one of the most difficult raftable rivers in the country. Potential rafters must complete an hour-and-a-half training seminar and swim across Class II rapids before tackling the T. Distance: 9 miles; 1 day Gradient: 110 feet per mile Season: June-October; best July-August Do It Yourself: Put in at Cherry Creek; take out at Meral's Pool. Call the Stanislaus National Forest, 209-962-7825, for a permit (required). Guided Trips: Sierra Mac River Trips (800-457-2580; runs one-day raft trips for $255 per person.

Chilko River
Southern British Columbia
Twenty-three miles from its source, the relatively calm Chilko squeezes into 11-mile Lava Canyon and becomes a roller coaster full of towering waves, house-size hydraulics, and jagged boulders. The canyon's sheer walls prevent paddlers from scouting several Class IV-V rapids, making the run even more harrowing. Distance: 40 miles; 2 days Gradient: 50 feet per mile Season: June-August; best in August Do It Yourself: Put in at Chilko Lake; take out at Tsieko Junction. No permit required. Guided Trips: Chilko River Expeditions (250-398-6711) offers weekend raft trips ($300 per person) that include two runs through Lava Canyon.
Upper Youghiogheny River
Western Maryland
A run on the Upper Youghiogheny (known as the "Upper Yock") begins in lush, wild-ginseng country with a peaceful, one-and-a-half-mile float. But don't get too relaxed: Once you hit Bastard Falls, the Yock rages, with more than 20 successive Class IV-V rapids that exhaust even expert rafters and kayakers. The real test: Miracle Mile, which drops 140 feet and ends in a maze of cabin-size boulders. Distance: 10 miles; 1 day Gradient: 114 feet per mile Season: April-October; best in May. Do It Yourself: Put in at Sang Run; take out in Friendsville. No permit required. Guided Trips: Precision Rafting (800-477-3723; runs one-day trips for $105-$115 per person.

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