This photo needs editing.
Difficulty III-IV+
Length 4.1 Miles
Flow Range 2.56 - 4.25 FT
Flow Rate as of: 10 years ago 0.99 [FT]
Reach Info Last Updated 07/08/2005 3:08 pm

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.

Rapid Descriptions

First Falls

Class - IV+ Mile - 1.5
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
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 - 2.25
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.


Class - III+ Mile - 3
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.


Class - IV Mile - 3.9

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.


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Brandon Thompson
1 year ago

Here's a recent video of the run, at about 3 inches on the painted gauge: We had 2 mandatory portages, and a few other spots where portages could definitely be considered, and high water would have probably been 5 portages. FYI The waypoints on the map, showing the put in and takeout are wrong.

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Chris Preperato
7 years ago

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.

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10 years ago

Got the follow from the usgs per its non reported gauge reading for Gooney....are there any local folk..boater or otherwise...who could help with acessing real-time levels here??? Thanx Steve Taylor Hello Mr. Taylor, Real-time stream flow data collection at station 01630700 - Gooney Run near Glen Echo, VA was discontinued Oct. 28, 2009. This site, along with several others in the area were deactivated as a result of cooperative funding reductions. We apologize for the inconvenience. Historical data for this gage can still be accessed at: Thanks for contacting the USGS. Joel R. Guyer ( Hydrologic Technician USGS Virginia Water Science Center 1730 East Parham Road Richmond, VA 23228 804-261-2612 804-261-2659 (fax)

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11 years ago

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

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12 years ago

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

Gage Descriptions

A 2.56 ft. online gauge reading equals zero on the putin bridge gauge. The creek is low but runnable to at least -2 inches on the bridge gauge.

3 ft. online = 6 inches.

4 ft. online = 18 inches (beefy).

The gauge at the take-out under the 340 bridge is not accurate, due to water backing up from the Shenandoah and streambed changes.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports




article main photo

Attention Virginia Boaters!

Jason Robertson

During the high waters of Spring 2003, there has been a noticeable increase in reported confrontations between boaters and property owners in Virginia. Please remember to be respectful and courteous to property owners; do not trespass; and avoid confrontation in order to preserve access in the future.

Mark Anderson


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1191730 07/08/05 Mark Anderson Swap put-in / take-out locations (take-out is upstream of put-in)
1213563 08/28/19 Mark Anderson Swap put-in / take-out locations (take-out is upstream of put-in)