Difficulty II(III)
Length 6.3 Miles
Flow Range 420 - 2600 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 44 minutes ago 314 [CFS] ℹ️
Next Release
Reach Info Last Updated 01/27/2020 6:43 pm

River Description

This section of the North Branch Potomac has fairly continuous whitewater consisting of primarily open Class II-III rapids with waves and holes. The water is cold, however, because it is usually drawn from deep in the reservoir. Be prepared for 50-55 degree water anytime of year. Short pools break up the rapids. Releases are posted here

The rapids start right below the put-in.  A little more than half-way down is the most difficult rapid:  "Robin's Nest.  After "Robin's Nest" the rapids become generally progressively easier down to the town of Bloomington, MD and the take-out, on river left.  A detailed description of the rapids follows below.   

Take Out:  There is now an official public take-out at Bloomington, at the wastewater treatment plant, river left, just upstream of the arch railroad bridge. From I-68, take the MD 36 - Frostburg/Westernport exit and go South on MD 36 through Midland and Lonaconing to Westernport (notice that in Midland and Lonaconing the speed limit drops to 25 mph) (Another option - somewhat longer/more stoplights but it goes by Keyser WV supermarkets - is to take US 220 South from Cumberland to McCoole, MD, then take MD 135 West to Westernport).   Once in Westernport, take MD 135 West through Luke to Bloomington.  Approaching Bloomington, the road will make a sharp left turn at a woodyard and rock wall and cross the Savage River.  Drive west and uphill from the Savage River on Rte 135, over the railroad to the first left (Hamill Ave). Across from the school, take the next left (Owens Ave) downhill to the access. Once again, we emphasize model behavior (slow driving, no public nudity), as we will be creating traffic in a residential neighborhood. After being closed for a long time, the "Have-A-Lot" (the little restaurant in Bloomington) has been reopened (as of April, 2018) as a sandwich/ice cream take-out and there are a number of places to eat in nearby McCoole, MD or Keyser, WV.

As for using the original take-out at the mouth of the Savage: that is still OK, too. Just remember: the popular parking lot at the take-out, in front of the two-story brick building, is on private property. Please take care not to block the driveway (even just to unload for a minute), change clothes in the open, or do anything else to offend the tolerant owner, or the caretaker who lives out back in the trailer (where we have no business being). Poor behavior by some in 1997 almost cost us the use of the lot. So be on your best behavior and watch over the other guy too.  (From Ed Gertler:)

Put in from Bloomington, MD Take-out:
Directions to the Barnum Whitewater Area (BWA) from Bloomington, MD Take-out.  Take Owens Road up the hill to Hamill Ave (Drive slowly through this residential area).  Turn Right onto Hamill. Take Hamill to MD 135.  Turn right onto MD 135.  Take MD 135 down across the Savage.  After the road makes a hard right turn at a rock wall, look for a bridge to the right across the N.Br. Potomac.  Turn right onto the bridge (WV 46).  Take WV 46 up the hill.  At the top, WV 46 turns right onto the shuttle road (still WV 46).  Follow the shuttle road (WV 46) for 3.5 miles, which includes a double switchback towards the end of the 3.5 miles.  At the end of the 3.5 miles a road comes in from the left:  Ignore it and stay to the right onto the main road (WV 46).  Follow WV 46 another 1.3 miles down and up a hill and past a couple of churches.  Look for Barnum Road on the right.  Turn right onto Barnum Road and follow it down to the take-out at the bottom of the hill.  


Directions to Keyser, WV (& Put-In [BWA]) from Interstate 81/Virginia

From I-81 Winchester  
Exit Interstate 81 at VA 37 north of Winchester, VA.  From VA 37, take US 522 north to VA 127 west, which becomes WV 127 at the WV state line.  At the Forks of the Cacapon, WV 127 ends where WV 29 comes in from the right - stay straight onto WV29 south.  At Slanesville, WV, turn right onto WV 3 (Slanesville/Springfield Pike) and follow it to Springfield, WV.  At Springfield, WV, go straight onto WV 28 to Fort Ashby, WV.  At Fort Ashby, turn left onto WV 46 to Keyser, WV.  

(Ed Evangelidi claims that from Keyser, it is faster to cross the Potomac River at this point and take MD 135 through Westernport and Bloomington and turn left onto the usual shuttle road than to take 220 south to 50 west to 46 north to Barnum road; which means that you might as well run by the Bloomington take-out and set shuttle.  But, if you want to go directly from Keyser to the Barnum put-in -- keep reading.)

First Caviat:  This route is not for RVs or other long vehicles that would have a problem with short steep switchbacks or drivers that dislike the same.  To the put-in from Keyser, WV take WV 46 to West Piedmont Ave (depending upon how you get there, probably a right turn).  Turn left onto 'D' street, then right on Fort Ave, then left onto Parkview Drive, which becomes Hoover Hollow Rd.  Follow Hoover Hollow Road up the mountain (switchbacks) and after you cross the ridge, just before you get to a lake on the left, a side road comes in from the right (ignore) which changes the name of the main road to Pinnacle Rd.  Continue straight onto Pinnacle Road which curves around the lake to the left (the total distance of Hoover Hollow/Pinnacle Road is 5.9 miles).  Once  you've completely passed  the lake start looking for a right turn onto Kantor Cutoff Road.  Kantor Cutoff Road (2.0 miles) will take you down to WV Rt 46 east.  Turn right onto Rt 46 and in less than a quarter mile, Barnum Road will appear to the left.  Turn left on Barnum Road and follow it down the hill to a grassy parking area at the Barnum Whitewater Area --Approximately 2 1/2 miles.   Second Caviat:  Be aware that GPS tracking devices will get you into trouble in Keyser, WV -- whoever did the work assumed a connection between US 220 south of Keyser and Hoover Hollow/Pinnacle road that does not exist.

Rapid Descriptions

Put-In Barnum, WV

Class - N/A Mile - 0
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Mineral County, WV manages the Barnum Whitewater Area, at the bottom of Barnum Road, which offers a large grassy field to park and get dressed for the river.  The put-in is at the base of what looks like an old bridge pier, at the bottom of a short pool before the first rapid.

"Woodsmoke" [Boulder Garden 1]

Class - II Mile - 0.1
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Called "Woodsmoke" because in cold weather paddlers can often smell the campfires of the camping area downstream from the put-in.  Just below the put-in, the river splits in two around a small island and the natural line from the put-in is to stay to the right of the island.  In this channelstay on the right side tongue to avoid a large rock/hydraulic in the center left of the channel.  After you pass the rock, there are eddies both left and right to catch.  The remainder of this first boulder garden rapid has offset eddies, waves and rocks - no more than class II-.  There is a pool at the bottom where the Barnum automated gauge is located.

"Rocks & Rhododendron" [Boulder Garden 2]

Class - II Mile - 0.4
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A class II boulder garden, ending with a short pool with eddies both left and right, the right eddy under the boughs of Rhododendron and a couple of Pine trees.  Both eddies (particularly the right one) have rocks just below the surface that can flip a boater on the eddy turn - keep an eye out on the eddy turn.

"Easy Out" [Boulder Garden 3]

Class - II Mile - 0.7
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Class II boulder garden, very similar to the one before it, ending with a short pool. If you're having a bad day there is a nice eddy behind a fairly large rock on river right and a trail up to the road back to the put-in, that provides an Easy Out if you'd like to walk back to the put-in. 

Lead in to "The Slides" [Boulder Garden 4]

Class - II Mile - 0.95
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Class II boulder garden, very similar to those before it, followed immediately by "The Slides"

"The Slides"

Class - II+ Mile - 1
AKA "The Ledges."  Immediately follows the fourth boulder garden, but then forms a series of nearly river wide surfing ledges.  All the ledges can be surfed, but the first two are pretty powerful, so if you don't want to surf them, they need to be solidly punched.

"Shoal & Eddies"

Class - II Mile - 1.3
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After a longish pool, the river shoals up on the right, so the line is to move river left with the main current.  There are a series of eddies against the left shore that can be worked, then the river comes together at the bottom and dissipates into a pool.

"Blue Hole"

Class - II Mile - 1.8

A sweeping turn to the right with a pool at the bottom and cliffs to the left. The name "Blue Hole" actually refers to the pool at the bottom, but has to some extent migrated to the rapid that leads into it. The river access at the "Blue Hole" pool is the last road access to the river (on river right) for a short take-out.

"Lunch Stop"

Class - II+ Mile - 2.1
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A rocky rapid that makes a sharp left turn at a concrete wall which continues after the turn. After the sharp left turn, there is a playhole, which can be surfed to the enjoyment of the paddlers that gather on river left to eat lunch.   

"Rick's Ride"

Class - II Mile - 2.3
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Proceeding from the "Lunch Stop", the river makes a sweeping right hand turn with the current pushing to the left.  If you move center to right, there is a large easy-to-catch eddy on river right.  But on river left, there is a smaller eddy just upstream of where the current washes up against the rocky left bank.  The late Rick Tegethoff used this left eddy to train beginning whitewater paddlers to catch tighter eddies just off the main current with harder eddy lines, so this rapid is named for Rick.  


Class - II Mile - 2.7
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Named after the town of "Warnick" that was once on the river right side at this rapid. There is a little boogie water before you get to it.  The traditional line is to start at center, then work to the left, passing just to the right of a rock that appears to block the channel. The river right side of this rapid has been opening up in recent years and there is a line down river right, as well, with a rocky turn back to the center at the bottom.

"Robins Nest"

Class - III Mile - 3.2

The most difficult rapid is "Robin's Nest" which occurs near the bottom of a river right channel formed at the split of an island.  Avoid the near riverwide hole center and center right.  Run this river left or look for a tongue just to the right of a rock at the center left.  (There is a far right side eddy hopping line for those that like to be challenged, but this line involves clipping the right side of the upstream hole in one of the hops.  On this right side line, if you don't make the move with enough power, or if you lean back, you're in for a surprise.)

"Top of the World"

Class - II+ Mile - 3.7
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Located just below a long low staging rock. "Top of the World" is a fun and bouncy wave train.  It shoals up to the left at the beginning of the rapid and is run center to right; stay right for big waves that are not stoppers, but if a dryer run is desired, move back to the center/left, after passing the left side upper rapid shoals.

"Rock Face"

Class - II Mile - 4.1
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
This rapid has a pretty easy line just staying right,  but there's also a line down the left that has more current and involves more hole dodging and punching.   At the bottom center of the rapid is a pretty big hole that you wouldn't want to float into, and the water is a little boiley on river right below the hole.

"Piney Swamp Run"

Class - II Mile - 5.1
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In 1996, when the Piney Swamp Run watershed was being logged and surface mined, there was a summer thunderstorm that blew out the creek and created a huge delta of rocks and silt that blocked the center and right of the N. Br. Potomac.  This created a (then) new rapid which has been named for the creek.  For about a decade after the rapid was formed, there was a pretty good long surfing wave here, but lately the channel has been widening and the wave lost its downstream curler, so that surfers slide off the river right side.  The delta continues downstream becoming a shoal with a line down the right of the shoal and a line down the far left of a shoally island.

First Railroad Bridge

Class - N/A Mile - 5.7
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Not really of interest, except this is not the take-out railroad bridge.

"Last Rapid" or "Bloomington"

Class - II Mile - 6.1
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As the river approaches the Bloomington, MD take-out, the main channel goes over a shoally gravel bar, which begins a turn to the left.  At the top, behind an Island, there is a far right side channel that sneaks behind the island.  Either way, at the bottom of the Island, the two channels come together and form a series of standing waves against the right shore, much like a less steep, but longer "Top of the World".  The take-out is at the bottom of this rapid on the left, just upstream of the arch railroad bridge.

Take-out (upstream of Arch railroad bridge), Bloomington, MD

Class - N/A Mile - 6.3

The Bloomington, MD take-out is on the left, at the wastewater treatment plant, just upstream of the arch railroad bridge.


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8 years ago

Nice wide easy class 2 run at 1000 cfs.

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Colin Abernethy
9 years ago

Fantastic release last weekend. Robin's Nest was in full form and the paddling was great! The final big left-hand bend in the river where the channels split around several islands holds some downed trees in the left channel. Stick to the main channel or the right. Definitely a fun run!

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12 years ago

the AWW info is incorrect, i called Barmum at 12 pm 5/23/08 and its running at only 450 cfs and will be like that for the weekend, unless it rains.

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12 years ago

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Julianna Wilson
13 years ago

Link to release schedule: click here
Main COE link: click here
Lots of photos of this section: click here

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Ed Evangelidi
18 years ago

Below the Barnum to Bloomington stretch is a nice Class 2 section that is rarely paddled since you first have to portage the Westvaco dam on river right, then paddle by the huge monstrosity that is the paper mill. But the river entertainment continues all the way to Keyser.

Release Schedule

More Information

We have had releases on this reach but don't show any currently. This information is gathered by the public. If you know about releases then contact us about them. If you would volunteer to enter the releases, then reach out to us.

Gage Descriptions

Releases usually occur 4 times in the spring (usually every other weekend in April and May) and a couple times in the fall. This section also runs frequently at other times of the year following heavy rainfall in the area. It also runs at moderate flows during extreme drought, when water is released for drinking supplies downstream.

See the Corps of Engineers website for updates on releases.

The whitewater releases are sponsored by the Mineral County Parks and Recreation Commission. They can be reached for further information at 304-788-5732.

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.

Date Flow Result Factor  
2013-08-24 Medium Fatality Other Read More




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Upper Yough Access Guidelines and Fundraiser

Charlie Walbridge

At Maryland's Upper Yough, one of the country's finest whitewater runs, American Whitewater has been maintaining the Sang Run Access for the past 20 years. With the 4th of July weekend coming up, a quick reminder that we are guests of the Town of Friendsville when we take out. In addition changing clothes discretely ad behaving respectfully, please observe social distancing during the pandemic. Garrett County has a low infection rate, and a mask when patronizing local businesses is the norm. We are also beginning our annual fundraiser to pay the expenses American Whitewater has at Sang Run. Out goal is $1,000, and we have already received $160. The Fee Box at Sang Run is still closed due to vandalism. We suggest $20 for the full season; $5 for one weekend. Please donate on line, or use the donation jar at the Wilderness Voyageurs shop at the takeout. Please go to https://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Membership/donate/? and put "Upper Yough Access" in the comment box.

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Don Millard - AW Super Upper Yough Access Volunteer!

Charlie and Sandy Walbridge

American Whitewater super-volunteer Don Millard has been taking care of the Sang Run and Friendsville Access Areas on Maryland's Upper Youghioghenny River for the past several years. This bulds on a 2003 agreement between American Whitewater and Maryland State Parks, which owns the property. This year he rebuilt the change house and porta-pot shelter, set AW's sign back up, filled in potholes, and mowed acres of grass. He not only did the work, he donated the materials and machine time! This work givezs AW strong ties to the community (the place is also a fishing access) and local park managers. Also, thanks to him, boaters are not faced with a $5 access fee at both ends! Please remember, the pandemic is still on. Be smart. If you use the porta-pot, wash your hands or use sanitizer!

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North Branch Potomac (MD) Report Links Water Quality with Recreational Economies

Kevin Colburn

A report released today links acid mine drainage remediation on the North Branch of the Potomac River with significant regional economic benefits of angling and paddling. The report reveals a compelling and cautionary case study of the economic benefits of protecting and restoring rivers.  

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Army Corps Announces NB Potomac Release

Kevin Colburn

The Army Corps of Engineers recently announced a Water Quality release from Jennings Randolph Lake that will be held on August 28-29, 2010. They plan to release a flow of 850 to 1000 cfs for about 30 hours beginning on Saturday morning and continuing until early Sunday afternoon.

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N. Branch Potomac Releases April 24-25, 2010

Kevin Colburn

The second 2010 whitewater release on the North Branch Potomac from Jennings Randolph Lake for this season will be on Saturday April 24 and Sunday April 25. The whitewater release will extend from 9 AM to 3 PM each day. The release rate will be 1000 cfs each day.

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Cheat Canyon Settlement Reached; Land Set Aside for Endangered Species

Charles Walbridge

After two years of intense negotiations an agreement reached to protect endangered species in the Cheat River Canyon. Allegheny Wood Products acquired roughly 5,000 acres in the Cheat Canyon below Albright, WV in 2003 for $9.75 million. When they began building roads and cutting trees the following year the government took no steps to enforce the Endangered Species Act. A lawsuit was filed in 2005 by Friends of Blackwater Canyon, the WV Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the Cheat Lake Environmental and Recreational Association. Although American Whitewater was not a party to the litigation we are gratified that an agreement was reached and commend both parties for their efforts.

Tony Allred Jr


Matt Muir


Kevin Colburn




Paul Martzen


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1208252 09/05/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-5-2017 - cleanup
1208251 09/05/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-5-2017 - Corrected restaurant comment(s) in description.
1192224 02/18/06 n/a n/a
1208473 11/10/17 Tony Allred Jr 11-9-2017 - edited description and cleanup
1214250 01/27/20 Tony Allred Jr updated image position
1214252 01/27/20 Kevin Colburn updated description
1214251 01/27/20 Kevin Colburn updated description
1208474 11/10/17 Tony Allred Jr 11-7-2017 - cleanup
1195077 05/27/09 Matt Muir
1208475 11/10/17 Tony Allred Jr 11-9-2017 - edited description and cleanup
1201257 05/09/12 BradR
1209187 04/09/18 Tony Allred Jr 4-15-2018 - small edit/cleanup
1208435 11/07/17 Tony Allred Jr 11-7-2017 - cleanup
1208297 09/20/17 Tony Allred Jr 10-10-2017 cleanup
1208434 11/07/17 Tony Allred Jr 11-7-2017 - cleanup
1208253 09/05/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-15-2017 - added rapid information
1208271 09/15/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-15-2017 - cleanup
1208272 09/15/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-5-2017 - cleanup
1201264 05/10/12 Paul Martzen updated coordinates
1208273 09/15/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-5-2017 - cleanup
1208288 09/18/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-17-2017 - cleanup
1208282 09/18/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-17-2017 - added better descriptions to put-in
1208281 09/18/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-17-2017 - cleanup
1208283 09/18/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-17-2017 - cleanup
1208284 09/18/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-17-2017 - cleanup
1207683 06/08/17 Tony Allred Jr 5-31-2017 enhanced river description.
1208285 09/18/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-17-2017 - cleanup
1208286 09/18/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-17-2017 - improved directions to take-out from I-68
1208287 09/18/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-17-2017 - cleanup
1208289 09/18/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-17-2017 - cleanup
1208290 09/18/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-17-2017 - cleanup
1208291 09/18/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-17-2017 - cleanup
1208295 09/19/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-17-2017 - cleanup
1208292 09/19/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-17-2017 - cleanup
1208293 09/19/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-17-2017 - cleanup
1208294 09/19/17 Tony Allred Jr 9-17-2017 - cleanup
1208476 11/10/17 Tony Allred Jr 11-12-2017 - Cleanup
1207689 06/08/17 Tony Allred Jr 8-4-2017 - edit to gauge levels broke out to low/medium/high runnable
1209186 04/09/18 Tony Allred Jr 4-4-2018 - small edit/cleanup
1209185 04/09/18 Tony Allred Jr 4-4-2018 - added rapid names and made corrections
1208488 11/14/17 Tony Allred Jr 2-9-2018 - cleanup
1213428 07/30/19 Tony Allred Jr updated stats
1210281 08/25/18 Tony Allred Jr 9-14-2018 - cleanup
1213520 08/25/19 Tony Allred Jr updated description