This section has some flatwater, but is said to contain some harder drops than the Top Yough.
I ran this on May 11, 2012. I put in from the road about 3 or 4 miles up from Swallow Falls road, approximately, maybe less. I left my car at a hiking trailhead on the other side of the road from the river. The put-in here requires bushwhacking. The first few river miles are totally flat. However, I did see some beaver here, and there were birds for nature lovers, and I didn't mind the flatwater, but it could be tough if there were a headwind. The section of rapids is only the last half-mile or so. You know where the rapids start because miles of flatwater end with a 3-4-foot vertical ledge that drops onto a twisting, sloping, jagged slide that drops about 10-15-feet at roughly 25-degrees overall that presents numerous ways to screw up. I could see about three different ways that one could easily pin a boat, not to mention several ways to flip and possibly drown, depending on water levels. I would not call this Class 3, by any means, unless it is very scrapy-low. The bottom of the slide has several pinning rocks that could be possibly fatal under the "right" conditions, and the spaces between them are much less than the length of even a short play boat, making them perfect for pinning. One of these slots is at the downstream end of a recirculating eddy that I imagine gets quite violent with more water---a very bad juxtaposition! When I did it, I think Class 4 would be a fair rating, although I can see how it could easily go to Class 5 with enough water. The first drop is the hardest, and the others are probably no more than Class 4, and usually less. Very soon, you come to the bridge upstream of Swallow Falls. It's definitely worth exploring at least once, if you have the time and energy, and you're in a playful mood. As for comparing it to the top or upper Yough---it's all about the water level, man. "The dose makes the poison." Less is easier, more is harder.
I have not run this section but just looking at Google maps and following along the river, it is about 4 miles from the suggested put-in (along Oakland-Sang-Run Rd.) to Swallow Falls. By the other comments here, it seems that the rapids are mostly in the last 2 miles.
A friend and i just ran this the other day, we opted to hike in and avoid the flat water sesh, follow the trail about .25 miles up the road from the top put in, hike about 2 miles, 30 min with heavy boats, the trail breaks off to the right and your put ins about 10 feet from the largest drop on the run, the rest of the dropes ledges slides and boulder gardens are barely class III, nothing on here to challenge the top at normal levels, theres a fun boof river left about half a mile down river from the put in . watch out for raccoons.
A friend and I ran the Tippy-top Yough and the Top Yough yesterday. We parked at the put in for the Top and hiked a mile and a half upstream on river right. It had snowed the weekend before and we followed the a deer trail through the woods. The hike in was as much of an adventure as the run.
The run was a lot of fun and we found it to be well worth the effort. There were three boulder garden rapids that reminded me of smaller versions of Suckhole, without the seive. The rest of the rapids were smallish ledges and slides that would certainly be more fun in higher water.
While the whitewater was of a lesser difficulty than the Top Yough, it was still plenty of fun. It also added several good rapids to what is already a fun run (on the Top Yough).
Myself and three others ran this reach yesterday. There are maybe a dozen drops, many of them are smalish shelves and slides. The first couple are the most interesting but they are only class IIIs. The very fist rapid has a nasty hole in the center that is backed up by a submerged rock. The next rapid has a nice boof move in the center. Overall I don't think this section is worth the long paddle in but it is nice to get a few warmups in before Swallow Falls.
If you are thinking of paddling this section you should know that there are MILES of flatwater above the *few* and *small* rapids that exist on the Tip-Top. The ONLY rapids are in the 1/4 to 1/2 mile above Swallow Falls, and they DO NOT compare to the rapids on the Top Yough. I would recommend skipping the Tip-Top Yough - or if you really must do it then carry up rather than slog through the flatwater below Oakland.
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