Yellow Dog - B) 'Lower Dog': CR510 to CR550 (5.1 miles)

Yellow Dog, Michigan, US


B) 'Lower Dog': CR510 to CR550 (5.1 miles)

Usual Difficulty II-V (for normal flows)
Avg. Gradient 45 fpm
Max Gradient 124 fpm

Wetting his throat on the Gullet

Wetting his throat on the Gullet
Photo of Mark Mastalski by Steve Corsi taken 04/24/04 @ 1.4

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-04043275 4.79 - 6.10 ft II-V 1y270d19h49m 4.68 ft (too low)
Likely too low for good whitewater run. ELF (Extreme Low Flow) run may be possible. Gauge (31.8 sq.mi. drainage) is 8.3 miles upstream of put-in for this reach, however no significant tribs intervene, so gauge should accurately reflect flows.

River Description

A handful of lesser (generally unnamed) rapids intersperse seven awesome significant drops. At least six of the seven warrant scouting and likely safety setup. All drops have been run (when free of wood, and when flows are good/optimum), but many paddlers are likely to portage or sneak at least two or three at most water levels. Also be aware that all the gradient is up front, leaving you with a long flatwater paddle-out. Even so, I doubt you'll be disappointed in the beauty and challenge of this run.

Check out a run of the first drop! (Running this drop is NOT generally recommended for most boaters!)

Or . . . here's another good video showing most of the drops. FWIW, if you watch the timeline:
0:00-0:33 = Hills Falls, left line
0:33-0:55 = Hills Falls, right line
0:55-1:52 = Eyeball
1:52-2:06 = Gullet
2:06-2:15 = Upper Dogleg (with wood, precluding run)
2:15-2:35 = Lower Dogleg
2:35-2:43 = Lower Dogleg, right side view
2:43-3:23 = Bushy Creek Falls
3:23-3:52 = Junkyard

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2015-11-15 17:26:39

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.7Hills Falls (Hair of the Dog)IV+Waterfall Photo
1.0Eyeball (Eye of the Dog)IVWaterfall Photo
1.1GulletIII+Waterfall Photo
1.3Upper Dog LegIVWaterfall Photo
1.3Lower Dog LegIVWaterfall Photo
1.4Bushy Creek FallsIVWaterfall Photo
1.8JunkyardIVWaterfall Photo
1.9WagIII+Waterfall Photo
5.1USGS sampling siteN/A

Rapid Descriptions

Hills Falls (Hair of the Dog) (Class IV+, Mile 0.7)

Running the first drop

Running the first drop
Photo of Mike Eviston by Steve Corsi taken 04/24/04 @ 1.4

It is perhaps unfortunate that one of the bigger, scarier drops is the first you'll encounter. No real warmup other than flatwater. There are lines here . . . at the right flows . . . but there are plenty of ways for it to go bad, too. Many of the early runs of this didn't go quite 'as planned', so there's no shame in deciding to portage, though increasing numbers of paddlers now run this.

Shortly downstream you will encounter a potentially sticky, potentially playable ledge, Jaws II (the sequel is seldom as good as the original). (If you've done the Nolichucky, you'll know what I'm referring to.) Just downstream is another sloping ledge drop, which can generally be run pretty much anywhere, though it is likely to be scrapey down the center.

Eyeball (Eye of the Dog) (Class IV, Mile 1.0)

Learning obedience

Learning obedience
Photo of Helge Klockow by Steve Corsi taken 04/26/04 @ 1.4

(Lat/Lng and location on map are approximate. Resolution on satellite view is not sufficient to be certain.)

As you come around a left bend, you'll see a series of offset holes, and a narrowing in the distance. Get out (river left) to scout. Hoofers used to call this 'Obedience School' (as the photo is captioned), but we talked to locals and found that they called it 'Eyeball'. The series of short ledges, waves, and holes leads to a diagonally pitching ledge with a huge erratic boulder (the Eyeball) perched precariously, blocking the right side of the drop. A right-shore "hollow" (the "eye-socket") exists behind the rock. From upstream, most of the flow is diverted to the right, toward the boulder (which develops a pretty fair pillow), before being redirected left into a mushy, funky hole, then over a ledge into another slightly more well formed hole and a good pool below. While not that big a drop, it has never failed to get my heart racing. I've seen boaters certain they are on a line to head down the left side, only to find themselves suddenly shoved across to the right, finding themselves eyeball to eyeball with The Eyeball. 

Gullet (Class III+, Mile 1.1)

Wetting his throat on the Gullet

Wetting his throat on the Gullet
Photo of Mark Mastalski by Steve Corsi taken 04/24/04 @ 1.4

Trailing rapids from the prior drop quickly lead to a right hand bend and Gullet (scout left), where the river drops over an irregular sloping ledge. The right side stays higher, then drops off (forward and diagonally left) mostly onto shallow angular rock. River left (between the left shore-rock and the diagonally sloping river right bedrock) forms a deepening "V," funneling into a (not keepy) hole, some "funny water," and a final ledge/hole. Some play may be possible here, though the water temperature when this is runnable and desire to keep muscles "fresh" for the remainder of the run usually dissuades us from much dallying.

Upper Dog Leg (Class IV, Mile 1.3)

Shooting down Dog Leg

Shooting down Dog Leg
Photo of Helge Klockow by Mark Mastalski taken 04/24/04 @ 1.4' at putin bridge

The next drop, Dog Leg, is the longest combination on the run. The river swings to the right (scout left), over a short ledge to a brief pool, then a 4' sloping ledge into a hole. The strong outflow from there leads straight into a huge boulder in the center of the channel. This boulder tends to catch logs, which (almost as often as not) preclude running Upper Dogleg. The right side (beside and below) is a jumble of rocks (pretty impassible). The left side has a shallow ledge extending from shore (parallel to the current leading to the rock) over which the flow tumbles, and is directed onto another rock to "trip over" as you finish Upper Dog Leg.

Lower Dog Leg (Class IV, Mile 1.3)

Lower Dogleg (#1)

Lower Dogleg (#1)
Photo by John Meredith taken 03/29/07

A brief bit of slackwater leads to Lower Dog Leg. A rocky island splits off a narrow (unrunnable, at most flows) channel to the right. The left channel is wide enough to allow a few good routes to run this double ledge combination.

Bushy Creek Falls (Class IV, Mile 1.4)

Bushy Creek Falls

Bushy Creek Falls
Photo of Helge Klockow by Mark Mastalski taken 04/23/04 @ 1.4' on putin bridge

Another brief paddle brings you to a tight left bend and a falls (scout left). There is conflicting information about the correct name here. The topo maps label 'Brushy Creek' entering downstream on river-left, but road maps list 'Bushy Creek Truck Trail' and most references to the falls say 'Bushy Creek Falls'. (My guess is the topo maps label is a typo.) A couple short ledges and a brief pool precede a narrow slot. The river is stuffed between the rocks and into a couple violent holes before racing through the pool below. Numerous pourovers and rocky protuberances (for pitons) exist. "Other than that, it's a fairly straight-forward drop." (My preferred route so far has always been down the left . . . far left . . . walking.)

Junkyard (Class IV, Mile 1.8)


Photo of The gang scout Junkyard by Mark Mastalski taken 04/24/04 @ 1.4' at putin bridge

Shortly downstream, you will reach another sharp bend to the left, and hear the rush of Junkyard (scout left). From the pool above, the river turns left as it slides through offset waves. It is then twisted right, through diagonal waves and holes, jumps off a 3' ledge, then twists left again, and spills across jagged, irregular rock before jumping off a final uneven ledge into the pool below. This always looks big and mean (as a junkyard dog, hence the name).

Wag (Class III+, Mile 1.9)

Wag your tail, you've survived the Dog

Wag your tail, you've survived the Dog
Photo of Mike Eviston by Steve Corsi taken 04/24/04 @ 1.4

Not far downstream, the river again bends to the left and jumps over Wag (scout right, if so inclined). This short (~3') ledge may be boofed to the right, though be aware it may be a hard landing (piton). Center is ok, though there are some rocks to contend with as well, and far left is an easy slide through a wrapping wave into strong current along a wall of rock rising from the river. From here the current quickly diminishes, and the only action for the (roughly) 3 mile paddle-out is dodging shoals and strainers (and talk of how good the first beer at Vierling will be).

USGS sampling site (Class N/A, Mile 5.1)

USGS lists a site at Co.Rd.550 showing drainage at this point as 63.6 square miles. That is exactly twice the drainage as the present gauge upstream. Most of this inflow happens as you proceed down this lower reach.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
April 28 2009 (3556 days ago)
x (1)
Incredible river with very big drops. Some tight lines, but all manageable. Ran Hills Falls, but
few have. It has a very small landing zone and you cannot miss or it would be a bad day. This is a
must-paddle river in the UP. Don't miss it. I feel it is every good as anything around Lanse', if
not better.
May 22 2006 (4627 days ago)
Chris ArnoldDetails
May 19, 2006
The USGS gauge read approximately 130cfs. The gauge on the bridge was not found for comparison. I
would say the level was on the good side of low, we ran all of the drops with the exception of the

May 20, 2006
The USGS gauge read approximately 105cfs. All drops were run, but getting scrappy. I wouldn't
recommend paddling below this level. I think it would be possible but things would be very
April 26 2004 (5383 days ago)
David McGovernDetails
We paddled this on 4-25-04, and here's some notes. A gauge was painted on the upstream, river right
I-beam at the put in. It read 1.3 feet, which was near but not quite minimum. 1.1 might be too low.
Thanks to Jim Paul for adding this, as the I beam with the 3 bolts was nowhere to be found. There
was a lot of wood until the first big drop, which had it's approach blocked. We carried past the
wood and did a bumpy slide on river left to finish the drop. All other drops were clear and all
were run. There was no more major wood until the flatwater runout came, and several logjam portages
were needed. This is a great run.
Dave McG

Associated News