The Best Fall Whitewater: Upper Youghiogheny, Maryland

Best for creek boaters

Oct 1, 2012
Outside Magazine

Upper Youghiogheny, Maryland.    Photo: Curtis Heishman

The Yough is less of a river than it is a creek. The 10-mile stretch of whitewater is narrow and rocky, and drops anywhere between 50 and 140 feet per minute. Youghiogheny is an Algonquin word that means stream flowing in the wrong direction, and running it takes a lot of fast thinking and reading water on the fly. The major rapids, like Class IV+ Meat Cleaver and National Falls, all have must-make moves, and the whitewater rarely lets up. You’ll likely spend a lot of time in eddys catching your breath. Commercial outfitters run small rafts with just four people in them, because it’s impossible to navigate a bigger boat through the drops and chutes. The Upper Yough releases Friday, Monday, and the first Saturday of the month, through October; if you're looking for an extra thrill, Pennsylvania State Parks opens up Ohiopyle Falls, just above the lower stretch, for a few weeks every year in late August and early September. For boaters who aren’t up to the Class V section, the Lower Youghiogheny is the most popular Class III run east of the Mississippi.