Gooney Run - Browntown (RJ 622/649) to Karo Landing (Route 340)

Gooney Run, Virginia, US


Browntown (RJ 622/649) to Karo Landing (Route 340)

Usual Difficulty III-IV+ (for normal flows)
Length 4.1 Miles
Avg. Gradient 78 fpm
Max Gradient 120 fpm

Second Falls

Second Falls
Photo of Ian Lowe by Mark DeAgazio taken 12/2003 @ zero

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01630700 2.56 - 4.25 ft III-IV+ 9y44d14h00m 0.99 ft (too low)

River Description


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 encounter.

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


Stream team editor

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
1.5First FallsIV+Portage Hazard Waterfall Photo
1.6Second FallsIVWaterfall Photo
2.3No Place To SwimIVHazard Photo
3.0ChainsawIII+Hazard Photo
3.9SurpriseIVWaterfall Photo

Rapid Descriptions

First Falls (Class IV+, Mile 1.5)

First Falls from above

First Falls from above
Photo of First Fall by Mark DeAgazio taken 12/2003 @ zero

First Falls comes up quickly after the first Class III drop. It's full of large boulders that choke the channel and create a drop of around 10 feet. The midstream boulder is severely undercut, as is a boulder at the bottom right. The most common line is to the left of the midstream boulder. Be wary of running the right side - several boaters have pinned in the lower right sieve here.

Second Falls (Class IV, Mile 1.6)

Boof at Second Falls

Boof at Second Falls
Photo of Mark Anderson by Mark DeAgazio taken 12/2003 @ zero

Second Falls is just downstream of First Falls. This drop is a bit smaller and safer than it's upstream counterpart. With enough water, there are numerous lines. The most common lower water route involves ducking behind a huge river right boulder into a small eddy (you can get out and scout from here or from upstream). From there, run just right of several midstream rocks over the first drop, then setup to run just left of a triangular rock for the final plunge. Be aware of sometimes sticky holes in the runout.

No Place To Swim (Class IV, Mile 2.3)

Laura Links the Left

Laura Links the Left
Photo of Laura Breeden by Mark DeAgazio taken 12/2003 @ zero

This is a long and busy rapid that can be entered center left. Go over a couple drops and look for midway eddy on the left. From either eddy you can set up for a two part ledge drop. The second pourover requires a committed boof into either the left or right eddies. At higher water, the rest of the rapid can be run down the right or right to left. At lower water, however, it seems best to start left through the final boulder drop to avoid pinning rocks.

Chainsaw (Class III+, Mile 3.0)

Why do they call it "Chain Saw?"

Why do they call it "Chain Saw?"
Photo of Bob Walsh by Steve Marchi

This rapid is at a left bend in the creek. The final drops pick up wood easily, so ease into it down the left side or scout. There is an eddy on the far left 3/4 of the way down and several routes depending on the wood situation.

Surprise (Class IV, Mile 3.9)
icon of message Photo removed

This is the last hurrah and often comes up as a, um, surprise. Eddies are available at the top left, which is where you'll want to run. Go through a bouldery s-turn channel and look for another left side eddy. From here you can set up for the final chute-drop with a left to right peelout to straight down the middle.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 9 2013 (2013 days ago)
Chris PreperatoDetails
Ran it after the big rains we got Tuesday, and Gooney was good to go. Levels were between 9" and
12". There were two pieces of wood in road-side part, but both were passable to the left and easy
to see. First Falls has some wood in the scouting eddy, and a log across the left channel that
would be hard to see over 12". There was also a river-wide must portage log about 5-6 rapids down
from that, but, it was pretty easy to spot as the river bent to the right. Other than that, all
clear. I'd say Sandy did minimal damage to the run, this just looked like standard Gooney trees.
Didn't see a lot of snapped branches or trees hanging in from the shore like I see a lot in WV now.
May 7 2009 (3476 days ago)
x (1)
Most of the wood was cleared out at the end of last spring. We ran it a month ago at 6" and there
was only one portage. All of the blind drops were clear at that level. MK
May 20 2008 (3828 days ago)
Chris MoylesDetails
Run at low water -less 1' May 17th 2008 - DANGER :second half of the creek, below Gooney Falls is
full of wood and strainers- foot scouting of most drops is necessary - there is something in almost
every rapid - and one pine tree has caused a debris dam to build up about 3/4ths of the way down
the river- see photos - the first half of the run is clean, the second half took three hours of
scouting and portaging... but was still fun on a beautiful day. Call me for more info: chris
540-229-2289, I live nearby.
January 24 2008 (3945 days ago)
x (1)
This is not from Philippe Damiano, whoever he is. As of 9/05/06, all drops are runnable, although
there is one tree in a trivial rapid that most people portage, and is sneakable only at the minimum
level. Also, for you first-timers, there is one rapid down there, almost half-way down, that has a
bad sieve on the right side---stay left or portage, please.--Robert Farmer

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