Gooney Run, Virginia, US
Browntown (RJ 622/649) to Karo Landing (Route 340)
||III-IV+ (for normal flows)
Second FallsPhoto of Ian Lowe by Mark DeAgazio taken 12/2003 @ zero
Gooney Run is located south of Front Royal, Va. and offers Washington-region paddlers a close-by
Class III-IV creek run with several Class IV rapids and good technical whitewater. This creek
shouldn't be taken lightly, as it's full of every conceivable river hazard and can be packed with
wood. The creek runs through a beautiful and intimate gorge that is lined by privately owned land,
so boaters should be on good behavior to keep the creek accessible. Gooney comes up only in the
winter and spring and during prolonged wet periods.
THE DEAL ON PARKING.
Parking access is limited on both ends of the run. At the takeout, you
can pay $2 to park at Gooney Run Campground
when it is open. If parking in the pullout at
the Hwy 340 bridge, you will also have to cross campground land to reach your vehicle (they own
both the land on both sides of the bridge), so please pay the proprietor when parking there as
well. The $2 fee is the campground's day visitor rate. Parking is also available at the Karo
Landing fishing access, but there are only a few spots and you must not park on the grass. At the
Browntown Rd. putin, pull off the road at least 10 feet beyond the guardrail river left of the
creek. Please don't block the gravel easement adjacent to the guardrail that provides access to
a private wooded area (There is a No Parking sign on the guardrail here).
The run begins with a straight stretch paralleling the road and behind several houses. Be mindful
of the ford crossings as you warm up above the gorge. Shortly after the creek cuts away from the
road you will enter the gorge and the rapids pickup to II-III. After the first solid III, be on the
lookout for First Falls, a Class IV+ with dangerous boulder sieves in the middle and lower right.
The middle sieve is often full of wood, meaning this drop is often a mandatory portage that is
easiest on the right. Immediately below is Second Falls, another Class IV. Scout after making your
way into a tight eddy behind a boulder on the right.
Below Second Falls the creek alternates between Class III boogie and bigger drops. No Place To Swim
(Class IV) is a longer rapid with a mean pourover that must be boofed midway through. Chainsaw
(Class III+) should be eased into or scouted on the left because it's often full of new wood. Did I
mention wood? This creek picks up strainers quickly and demands quick reflexes from those who boat
it. Another rapid to watch out for is Surprise (Class IV), which marks the end of the big drops.
Enter this rapid on the left and look for a midway eddy that helps you line up for the final
flushing drop. Below here the creek eases up to the takeout beyond the Rt. 340 bridge.
DIRECTIONS: - From Front Royal, Va., take Hwy 340 south to the bridge over Gooney Run. This is the
takeout. Parking is available at the Karo Landing fishing access - accessed by turning right just
before the bridge, at the bridge or at the campground. To reach the takeout, head back north on Hwy
340 a short distance and turn right on Poor House Road. Turn right again on Browntown Road. And,
finally, turn right onto Buck Mountain Rd, cross over Gooney.
From Steve Marchi's Website:
Photo: Steve Marchi runs First Falls, courtesy of Steve.
Gradient, in ft/mi., mile-by-mile: 45 (1.1 mi.), 70, 120, 80.
Check Steve Marchi's Gooney
site for up-to-date info on Gooney.
Quotes from Steve's site, used with permission:
If Gooney comes up and you decide to run it, bring a bow saw for any strainers that you may
The rain gauges for Gooney's watershed are located on Hogback Mountain and at Browntown. Follow
the link: Rain Gauges for Hog
Back Mountain and Browntown.
Also see Corbett, Roger, Virginia Whitewater.
Next photo: Bob Walsh clearing a strainer at "Chain Saw Rapid," also courtesy of Steve.
Click on the picture for a bunch more excellent pics in Steve's site.
Ed Evangelidi testifies:
When lower Gooney Run is up, the upper stretch through the Browntown valley area is usually
canoeable too. This seldom paddled stretch of fast water through mild rapids has only a few
problems. One section braids a lot and it may be difficult to find deep water and one bridge has
a strong series of barbed wire strands not only across the creek, but also up the sides of the
portage route. But this section is a suggestion to lengthen an otherwise short Gooney Run trip.
StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2005-07-08 15:08:24