Youghiogheny - 6. Lower

Youghiogheny, Pennsylvania, US


6. Lower (Ohiopyle to Bruner Run)

Usual Difficulty III (varies with level)
Length 7.4 Miles
Avg. Gradient 25 fpm
Max Gradient 45 fpm

Swimmer's Hole

Swimmer's Hole
Photo of Mitch Greynolds by Pete Vastyan taken 08/13/02 @ 1.8 ft

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle, PA
usgs-03081500 1.20 - 9.00 ft III-IV 01h10m 5.14 ft (running)
Likely most difficult at 4-5'. Above 5', things begin to wash out, though there are some BIG holes and waves. If you swim, you risk ???????????????????????????

River Description

Note: except for Ohiopyle Falls weekend and some other times allowed by the park, it is illegal to run Ohiopyle Falls.

Breaking News! Expanded access to run Ohiopyle Falls has been granted!
This three-week period will run August 22, through September 12, 2010. Please see the Paddlers' Press Release and the Access Guidelines.

Note: It is important that everyone realize that running this waterfall should be for experienced boaters only. Running this class IV waterfall has all the hazards involved with any other class IV rapid. Our safety at the base of the Falls only involves helping swimmers if and when they wash out from under the Falls. As with any whitewater activity, you are responsible for judging your own capabilities and for your own safety. If you do not have the experience to run the Falls please do not attempt to do so.
See for info about the AW Ohiopyle Over-The-Falls Festival, August 21, 2010.

Alternate takeout: the Loop, about a mile and a half downstream of the putin. This allows the paddler to run the first few rapids through Railroad without having to run shuttle. The trail out is steep, but quite hikable. The Loop has the most gradient of the run.

Directions to Ohiopyle:

From the PA Turnpike (I-76):
Take Exit 9 (Donegal). Go left at the end of the off-ramp.
A couple of miles down the road, turn Right onto Rt. 381. Continue for several miles until you reach the T intersection.
Go left at the T intersection, staying on Rt. 381. Continue for several miles.
After crossing the railroad and the river, you're in Ohiopyle. Turn left up the hill and park.

From Washington, DC:
Take I-270 to I-70 West.
In Hancock, take I-68 West toward WV.
In Keysers Ridge (near the Savage River), take US 219 North, and after about a mile, take US 40 West.
After about 20 miles, in Farmington, bang a Right onto PA 381. After about 4 miles, you're in Ohiopyle, ready to change and shuttle!

(Shortcut: on Rte. 40, turn right on DinnerBell-Ohiopyle Road shortly after Glissan's Restaurant, at the Priestly Ridge School sign. Dinner Bell Road will take you right into 381 North.)

A permit from Ohiopyle State Park is needed to run the Lower Yough on weekends from April 1 until October 15. Call 724-329-8591 or, toll-free, 888-727-2757. (The permit is not necessary if you put in after 3 PM or before 7:45 AM.) It costs $2.50; a season's pass is also available. In addition, those who take out at Bruner Run on weekends must buy a bus token for $4.00. The bus token will get you to the top of the hill, but not back to Ohiopyle. (In other words, you still have to run shuttle.) The bus token is a wristband, a different color for each day. If you want to buy bus tokens for future runs, be sure to ask for the wrist bands with stars on them.


Jump Rock is a fun way to get vertical! (Rapid ratings based on Ohiopyle gage reading of 1.8-2.2' [Confluence 2.1-2.6]).

Note: Dimple Rapid has a very dangerous undercut, which has killed at least two people, maybe as many as five; in the year 2000, three people died in this vicinity! Novices, including those renting inflatable duckies, should seriously consider sneaking or portaging! Read Charlie Walbridge's report on a low-water, park-sponsored scouting expedition to Dimple Rock!

Click here for Charlie Walbridge's report on the latest on Dimple Rock.

Other related or nearby streams:
Middle Yough (Class II)
Casselman (Class I-III)
Ohiopyle Falls (Class IV, almost always illegal)
Meadow Run (Class V)
Upper Yough (Class IV-V)
Top Yough (Class IV-V)

Lat/Longitude coords at the putin verified by GPS.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2011-07-22 01:59:55


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0EntranceIIIPutin Playspot
0.3CucumberIIIPhoto Video
0.5Camel and WalrusII+
0.6Eddy TurnII+
1.0RailroadIIITakeout Playspot Photo
1.0Loop TakeoutTakeout Access
1.1Lower RailroadII
3.0DimpleIIIHazard Photo
3.8Bottle of WineII+
4.4Double HydraulicIII
4.6River's EndIII+Hazard
5.2Schoolhouse RockII+
6.2Killer FallsN/AWaterfall
7.4Bruner RunII+Takeout

Rapid Descriptions

Entrance (Class III)
One of the best and most technical of the Lower Yough rapids, this one is playful! Playhogs can easily spend an hour in this rapid. Start in the middle, head right of center (but not too far right, if you don't want a trashing in Bryson's Hole!), and then work your way left.
Lat/Longitude for this and the other Loop rapids is verified by GPS.

Cucumber (Class III, Mile 0.3)
Click Here For Video


Photo of Jack and Pete Koane by Kate Koskoris (KHCC)

The biggest drop on the Lower Yough, and not a good place to flip. There's a submerged rock that'll clock ya upside the head if you invert. The tailwaves have some play potential.

Piddly (Class I, Mile 0.4)
Easy. The pourover "play hole" on the right is a bit spanky, though.

Camel and Walrus (Class II+, Mile 0.5)
Head between the rocks. The second rock, "Walrus," has an excellent boof opportunity. Boof it from the right side into the hole. Niche!

Eddy Turn (Class II+, Mile 0.6)
All rocks and eddies. Pick your way down. Enjoy!

Dartmouth (Class II+, Mile 0.8)
A smaller version of Entrance. There's a big playhole at the bottom, but you risk being stuck in there when a raft has a bead on your pink liddle bod.

Railroad (Class III, Mile 1.0)

Railroad Rapid

Railroad Rapid
Photo of Jim Pruitt by Michael Sawyer taken 05/25/09

One of the more technical rapids in the Loop, this one involves a cut to the right of Charlie's Washing Machine, which may be the best cartwheelin' playhole on the river. An alternate line is to ride the "Frog's Back" slot between two boulders just to the right of the main line.
The Loop takeout is on the right. After Railroad come two miles of Doldrums, punctuated by Dimple Rock.

Loop Takeout
Takeout river right after Railroad. It's a steep walk up the trail to the parking lot.

Lower Railroad (Class II, Mile 1.1)

Below the Loop take-out, the rapids continue with a sweeping wash under the railroad (now bike trail) bridge and then a series of small ledge rapids and open slots.  Towards the bottom, there is a small rock cave in the rocks on the right and a fossil on a rock at the left at the very bottom.

Dimple (Class III, Mile 3.0)


Photo of Bruce Fleckenstein @ 2.15 ft, 1150 cfs

Dimple Rock is notorious because of its propensity for flipping rafts, and for its undercut. Thousands of rafting customers (and a fair number of kayakers) swim here every summer, and of 12 deaths on the Yough that AW has reported over the past 30 years, 3 were rafting customers who washed into the undercut.

The standard line is to follow the current at far river left, drifting toward Dimple Rock while pointed somewhat to the right, then driving into Pinball eddy (upstream and right of Dimple) as soon as you pass the guard rocks. It's a fairly easy move for experienced kayakers, and for raft crews that work well with each other and pay attention to thewir guides. There's a sneak to the right of "Vulture Rock" and "Pinball Rock" for those who want to take no chances. The easiest portage is the rock beach on river right.

Swimmer's (Class III, Mile 3.2)
One of the most famous playholes in the Eastern US. Downstream of the hole are some nice tailwaves, too.
Rafters get a big kick out of jumping into the water from a rock not far above Swimmer's Hole and swimming through it.

Bottle of Wine (Class II+, Mile 3.8)

Usually approached from the right.  There is a rock in the center just above the main drop that can be passed either right or left.  If the center rock is passed on the right, punch a small hole and move right to left - take the main drop (or boof the right side of the big rock on the left).  If the center rock is passed on the left, the move is a fast left to right or even a ferry move to pass between the center rock and the left rock at the drop - take the drop and eddy right.  The name "Bottle of Wine" comes from the early days of rafting when guides found a bottle of wine in the eddy below the boof rock.

Double Hydraulic (Class III, Mile 4.4)

As the name implies... The first hole is a pourover ledge, the worst of which can be avoided towards the center of the river. The second hole is playable, but trashy at lower levels. Around 3.5', the second hole is a smooth wave.

River's End (Class III+, Mile 4.6)

Perhaps the toughest rapid on the Lower Yough, this one has a couple of rocks with pinning potential. The normal line is to start in the center, and work strongly to eddy out behind the big rock on the left.

Schoolhouse Rock (Class II+, Mile 5.2)

A fairly easy rapid with a playable wave train. There's a neat attainment move in a slot between the huge Schoolhouse Rock and a small rock just downstream of it.

Stairstep (Class II+, Mile 5.8)
This is one of the easier rapids. The normal line is to take the wave train down the river-left side.

Killer Falls (Class N/A, Mile 6.2)

This one is bad. Nasty. Dangerous.
This rapid is so scary, that it's too scary to look at. Therefore, it's traditional to run it backwards.

Maze (Class II+, Mile 6.8)
This is more fun than difficult, as you find your own route through the boulders on river left.

Bruner Run (Class II+, Mile 7.4)

Watch out for the Gates of Hell at the beginning; they're just close enough to two-point broach older, longer boats. Right of the big rock in the center of the river are a bunch of waves. There are some cool ferry moves here, if you still have energy, and some of the waves are good play, especially at higher levels. Take out left, and hike yer boat up to the bus. You didn't forget your bus token, did you?

Takeout (Class N/A, Mile 7.5)

Takeout river left, just after Bruner Run rapid. Hike up the trail, where (during the Permit season) you can catch the bus up to the parking lot at the Old Mitchell Place.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
October 13 2014 (1491 days ago)
Davidm (156945)
If you're looking for a prontable guide the PA park service released one avalible at: Happy Paddlin!
July 13 2003 (5600 days ago)
From Boygenius on Boatertalk:

Bridge Hole on the Lower Yough: (6.5-higher on the Ohiopyle gauge???)
After that awesomely fun spot, I drove up through Friendsville up to Ohiopyle. I arrived at 5:00 or
so and some friendly, but seemingly burn-out local raft guides turned me on to a hole on the Lower
Yough just under the bridge above the falls. After checking it out, I hopped in for a great time.
The hole is very wide, fairly shallow, kind of scary in a way, but great for hole-moves. It's a
pour-over hole with a very uniform ledge, which might even be man-made. the surfer's right side is
very shallow, but it's not too hard to surf over to the left side where it's deeper and has a small
wave for a shoulder. This spot is REALLY renentive--in fact the only real eddy is in the backwash
of the hole, which you just paddle up in to from directly behind! It's easy to surf your way out
either corner, though. When the hole's good (it was a hair higher on Saturday), you can link
endless (and I mean endless 20+ points) ends to the left, clean and super clean to the right, split
both way, hit small loops, and I even was hitting lefty tricky-wu's in it--which I've never done
before! You can blunt and backstab right off the surfer's left shoulder wave, and rides can last
just about as long as you want them to. Moves are smooth and in-control here. What a great time!!!
I appreciated finally having a few other boaters around here...playboating is just more fun with
How to get there:
In Ohiopyle, either park at the take-out for the loop or simply walk there with your boat. You can
see the hole from the road's bridge across the river upstream of the falls. It's the largest of the
holes in the area and is more or less in the middle of the river almost directly under the bridge.
Put-in on the river right side in a BIG eddy and surf your way across to the big, turbulent
eddy/backwash of the hole. This backwash/eddy is large enough for 3 or 4 boaters to wait in while a
paddler plays. Because of it's proximity to Ohiopyle falls, this is not a safe place to play for
any playboater who might potentially swim. Also the hole can be very grabby in the middle and if
you're not comfortable moving your boat around side-to-side in a large hole, this might not be a
good place to play.

Entrance Wave on the Lower Yough (6.9 and at 6.3ish on the Ohiopyle gauge)
After playing the hole under the bridge for about an hour, I walked across the bridge down the the
put-in for the lower Yough to surf entrance. The river was totally empty of other boaters, giving
me the wave all to myself! It's on the river-right at the top of entrance rapid. This wave is
AWESOME!!! It breaks consistantly on the surfer's left and hole moves are possible here, then turns
into this STEEP, BIG, GLASSY wave on the surfer's right side. When it winds up to it's highest,
it's probably every bit of 4 or 5 feet high! It was rising and starting to green out on me friday
night, but that didn't keep me from hitting my first ever Helix to the right there! This spot
seriously rules. On Saturday, I threw ends both ways, split at least once, clean spun, big
air-looped, blunted left, flip-turned, and helixed all in one ride!!! The eddy on river right is
smaller and more turbulent, but right next to the wave. There is a HUGE eddy river left, but it's
farther accross the river. I had more fun at this spot than any of the others on Friday: it just
gave up huge bounces and awesome air-moves. Who would have known that something like this was on
the lower Yough!!?? There was no one else around...I LOVE, PA!
How to get there:
Put in at Ohiopyle at the standard put-in below the falls, paddle downstream about 200 yards, in
the first wave-train on the river right, you will see the breaking, happy wave with an eddy to it's
river right side. You can easily carry back up to your car at the put-in by heading up the river
left eddy and walking back up the short gravel access road to the put-in. It's only a 4-minute

Saturday was so much fun paddling the lower yough with my good friends Brian and Kristin. What a
great weekend. Back in time for church on Sunday. Enjoy these spots!!!

Stephen Wright
Team Prijon

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