Difficult Run - Old Georgetown Pike (Route 193) to Potomac R.


Difficult Run, Virginia, US

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Old Georgetown Pike (Route 193) to Potomac R.

Usual Difficulty III-IV(V+) (for normal flows)
Length 0.9 Miles
Avg. Gradient 110 fpm
Max Gradient 110 fpm

Difficult Run


Difficult Run
Photo taken 04/28/02

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
DIFFICULT RUN NEAR GREAT FALLS, VA
usgs-01646000 110 - 5000 cfs III-IV(V+) 01h12m 91.9 cfs (too low)


River Description

Virginia Whitewater, Roger Corbett
Note: listed gradient is approximate. It's tough to read the topo map in that vicinity.

David Mackintosh, on Boater Talk:
It is possible to get out on river right after the last drop above the canyon (at moderate levels). You really, really wouldn't want to swim out of that one, and the portage on the right is poor. It's a sticky pourover hole with closed ends; the usual line is to boof hard right into the eddy. If not running the canyon, I strongly suggest getting out on the left in the little cove immediately above that drop.
I've run from the 193 bridge down into the river around a dozen times. I always hike up first and scout everything; there's a good chance of new wood since it runs so infrequently. Even so, on one run the level had come up significantly between the time I scouted and when I made it back down to the gorge, and another line would've been better.
There are three class 3+ drops above the gorge section, and a couple of good spots to take out on river left after these. There is a 4' drop on the approach to the gorge that can get very sticky, I've been surfed there once or twice.
The gorge is nasty, and I wouldn't really "recommend" it to anyone. However, I'm not a cutting-edge creeker, and I've made it through about a dozen times. Not always pretty, though. It's more technical than any of the normal Great Falls lines, not really comparable since it's really a creek and Great Falls is much bigger water. Much more difficult than anything you're going to find on the Yough, more comparable to drops on the Upper B or Green Narrows (but uglier than most). I haven't seen anybody get shoved into the cave on the left, but it looks fairly terminal.

Gordon Dalton:
One more thing about "D.R." I've run this creek at several different water levels and the water quality is always heinous! A better name for this stream might be "Dysentery Run." As I make that final boof in the lasy big rapid i'm always clamping my lips and eyes together to try to minimize exposure to this nasty H20! I'd hate to roll in there.

Ed Evangelidi testifies:
For those out for a nice scenic trip on relatively tame water (Cl. 1), try the stretch from Rte. 7 to Rte. 193. This is surprisingly pretty for a semi-urban stream. Due to constant construction in the watershed, the stream occasionally gets log-jammed. There is a trail along the whole way (bring “river” shoes for stream crossings) & I suggest scouting it days ahead. The creek is usually runnable down to Seneca Creek @ Dawsonville at 2.4 but note that Difficult Run is a south-to-north run and Seneca Creek (to the north) is a north-to-south run. So the rain patterns may differ quite a bit.


StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2005-05-11 15:04:57

Editors


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.41st RapidIIIPhoto
0.52nd RapidIVPhoto
0.63rd rapidIVPhoto
0.74th Rapid (Leap of Faith)IVPhoto
0.75th rapid (Canyon rapid)5.1Photo
0.86th rapidIIIPhoto
0.97th rapidIIIPhoto

Rapid Descriptions

1st Rapid (Class III, Mile 0.4)

First rapid, main drop and run out

First rapid, main drop and run out
Photo of Difficult Run, 1st rapid by John_E_Sunshine taken 01/15/03 @ 5'

There is a long lead in to the first rapid which at normal flows requires a fair amount of manuevering in a boulder garden. The 1st rapid proper can be entered on river left which requires an "S" turn around a large ledge hole, or right down the middle off of a smaller ledge.



2nd Rapid (Class IV, Mile 0.5)

2nd drop

2nd drop
Photo of 2nd drop of Difficult Run by John_E_Sunshine taken 01/15/03 @ 5'

This rapid primarily involves two ledges with some technical lead manuvering required.  Since this photo was taken a few new rocks have appeared at the bottom of the first ledge so it is now best run on the left catching an eddy there to ferry out and run the second ledge (not pictured) on the right.



3rd rapid (Class IV, Mile 0.6)

3rd drop of Difficult Run

3rd drop of Difficult Run
Photo by John_E_Sunshine taken 01/15/03 @ 5'

This is a fairly long technical rapid requiring a series of moves and containing several ledges.  At the end of the rapid is a final ledge (pictured) with most of the water squeezed between two bolders with a significant hole formed inbetween.  After this rapid it is generally best to get out on the left in a medium sized eddy there to scout/portage the next two rapids (the second of which being the Canyon rapid).



4th Rapid (Leap of Faith) (Class IV, Mile 0.7)

4th rapid of Difficult Run

4th rapid of Difficult Run
Photo by John_E_Sunshine taken 01/15/03 @ 5'

This is a great drop of about 6'. This is also the entry into the gorge and the class 5 waterfall just downstream. This drop is also complicated by the undercut boulder at the bottom left of the drop where most of the water is pushing.  Running this rapid commits one to either running the Canyon rapid or at least taking a more difficult rock scrambling carry around it) generally most get out before it to carry around on the  left.



5th rapid (Canyon rapid) (Class 5.1, Mile 0.7)

5th drop of Difficult Run - Waterfall

5th drop of Difficult Run - Waterfall
Photo by John_E_Sunshine taken 01/15/03 @ 5'

This is a technical and fairly scary looking rapid complicated by the cave on the left at the bottom of the final drop and the significant hydrolic at the bottom of this drop as well.  There's something of a sneak available in the approach at higher water on the right.  The main line is starting left and working your way right through a series of ledges which are complicated by rocks in their reception and a strong current pushing left.

 

This drop is considered a mandatory portage by most.



6th rapid (Class III, Mile 0.8)

6th rapid of Difficult Run

6th rapid of Difficult Run
Photo by John_E_Sunshine taken 01/15/03 @ 5'

This rapid offers a putin pool just above for this portaging/setting safety for the Canyon rapid.  The river left slot has serious pinning potential and the right right slot has a series of shallow rocks that must be avoided.  Best run far left of the river right slot.



7th rapid (Class III, Mile 0.9)

7th rapid of Difficult Run

7th rapid of Difficult Run
Photo by John_E_Sunshine taken 01/15/03 @ 5'

This is a long shallow boulder garden best run on the left of the island (which gets far more water than the right side).




User Comments

Users can submit comments.
August 3 2005 (4855 days ago)
John AldenDetails
I've been paddling Difficult Run for years and it's always been fun, regardless of the level.
There's many a good story that took place on this small creek, but I digress. What I recently
discovered was how low, in terms of cfs, some of those runs were. These are levels at the gauge
with their corresponding cfs:

3.5' 67 cfs
3.8' 104 cfs
4.0' 135 cfs
4.5' 220 cfs
5.0' 340 cfs
5.5' 475 cfs

I once ran DR with Jerry Palushock at 3' on the gauge. It was low, VERY LOW, but it was channelized
and still floatable. Enjoy. For good high flow video check out (also includes neighboring Scotts
Run): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5V7aQYF93QQ
June 7 2004 (5277 days ago)
Mark AndersonDetails
Another viable option is to boof the pourover among the main "gorge" drop and takeout
river right. After some customary jawboning about running the V+, one can carefully seal launch
below the drop. By carefully I mean avoid submerged rocks that are hard to see in the murky
Virginia runoff that is Difficult Run.
June 7 2004 (5277 days ago)
Mark AndersonDetails
Another viable option is to boof the pourover above the main "gorge" drop and takeout
river right. After some customary jawboning about running the V+, one can carefully seal launch
below the drop. By carefully I mean avoid submerged rocks that are hard to see in the murky
Virginia runoff that is Difficult Run.
December 28 2003 (5438 days ago)
BradRDetails
The view from the new guy in town. First the good news, there is a nice trail down the whole river
left side. Its nicely maintained and goes down to the confluence with the potomac. If it were open
you could probably drive a buick down to the confluence on the trail with no problems.

All in all there are about 7 real rapids of varying difficulty, and the nasty looking class 5 drop.
The trail on the left makes for easy scouting and relatively easy portaging. The class 5 drop will
involve carrying your boat about 100 feet up and around the cliff on the left.

When you see a large rock face/cliff on the left you are right above the big drop. The stream is
fairly wide above and split by an island. The last drop is about a 4 foot tall pourover that makes
a sticky looking hole, then the class 5 drop. Probably easiest to scout and portage by taking out
above the pourover.

Bradley


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