Mill Creek (Shenandoah trib) - Route 42 to N. Fork Shenandoah

Mill Creek (Shenandoah trib), Virginia, US


Route 42 to N. Fork Shenandoah

Usual Difficulty I-III(V) (for normal flows)
Length 7.6 Miles
Avg. Gradient 23 fpm
Max Gradient 70 fpm

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01632000 1000 - 20000 cfs I-III(V) 01h15m 101 cfs (too low)

River Description

This is really two distinct sections. The first 6.6 miles are no more than class II. I have only paddled this from a little above Rinkerton, after the addition of the water from Crooked Run, where the creek comes alongside Va. 263 for its final 2 miles. There is a nice set of Class II mini-ledges just above Rinkerton, and then nothing more than class I, but with a good current because of the gradient. The scenery is relatively poor, because you are next to the road. The scenery should be better upstream, and the gradient is similar, as is the whitewater (according to Corbett); however, there are likely to be fences and downed trees. This section ends when you see I-81 appear and the horizon line disappear. You can easily climb up to Va. 263, and park on its shoulder.
Then comes the final plunge of Mill Creek, down to the North Fork. It begins with the class III Mill Rapid, a long, wide sloping ledge with several steps and many possible routes, which requires much more water than above. You can pull over on either side to scout and select your path. In the final section, most of the water goes to the left. After you pass beneath I-81, riffles carry you swiftly to the next horizon line, where almost all of the water channels to the far left. Stay right, and then land on the rock ledge in the middle. This is an extremely dangerous drop of about 15 feet, at least class 5.0, through a 6 to 8-foot wide mill-race cleft in the rock, with a complicated entry, an undercut left side, a large pillow midway, a keeper hydraulic etc. Portage over the rock ledge. Shortly below, pull over on the left to scout the next drop (and to be safe and efficient, the following one as well). Most of the water goes to the left, over a diagonal ledge (class IV) with a serious hydraulic on the far left (where the current will try to push you), apparently the result of blasting to make a route for a pipeline. This hydraulic may be hard to avoid even in low water. Many paddlers will prefer the class III sneak route on the far right of the creek. Whichever route you take, stay on the right side of the wave train below, and maximize your speed to carry you through the strong hydraulic of the final drop, within sight of the take-out bridge.
You can continue one-third mile down to Va. 11, from where it is another one-third mile to the confluence, and a final one-third mile down to SR 698 (again). If you do any of that, you must first portage an 8-foot dam (on the left), after which you get to run a few class II rapids.

Ed Evangelidi testifies:<br>
Be sure to scout the steep, sharp-rocked, man-blasted rapid that most may wish to carry along the shuttle road.
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2005-05-11 23:55:35


Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

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