Crabtree Creek, Maryland, US
Swanton, MD to Savage Reservoir
||III-IV+ (for normal flows)
Down We Go
Down We GoPhoto of Laura Breeden by Jeff Jarriel taken 9/2003
ATTENTION: As of March, 2007 Crabtree Creek might better be called OhCrapAnotherTree Creek.
There are numerous trees requiring portaging and an equal number requiring careful attention to get
beyond in a boat. A few are in bad spots around blind bends or midway through rapids after it is
too late to easily stop. When in doubt scout to avoid problems.
This creek is hard to catch because the Savage River drainage lies in the rain shadow of the
Allegheny Plateau. With snowmelt or a big rain, however, Crabtree Creek is well worth checking out
by boaters with Class IV creeking skills.
The latest edition of West Virginia Wildwater - now called A Canoeing and Kayaking Guide to West
- includes a brief description of the last 1.8 miles. This description covers 6 miles
from the confluence of the north and south forks to the reservoir. The creek has nonstop action and
several Class IV stretches.
The stream starts off flat and narrow - maybe 10 ft. wide - and has the feel of an oversized
drainage ditch. The first half mile is easier, then the creek begins to tilt into a pretty
rhodedendron and hemlock forest. Eddies are a premium throughout the run and from here you can
expect constant Class III and Class IV action, with several blind corners, dops, tight moves. There
are several long slalom rapids with multiple drops and three biggies that tend to sneak up on
people. Watch out for wood and railroad related debris - the adjacent rail line dumped many cross
ties down the banks along the creek.
Features worth noting include 6 railroad bridge crossings. The last bridge funnels the creekflow
through a very long tube. Scout this from both ends before running through to make sure it is clear
of debris. The end of the tunnel slants down a sloping sluiceway into a juicy hole (Class IV+).
Midway through the run there is a large sloping ledge that drops about 10 feet (Class IV) and has
an abrupt and tight entry. Wood and railroad ties have been found clogging the top of the drop, so
stop and scout this as well. Though it can probably be run most anywhere - as long as you remain
upright - the best line is down the left. Further down is a long rapid in a right-hand bend (Class
IV); it starts with a narrow chute guarded by an undercut then flows over two medium ledges (the
second is broken in a pattern that looks like giant teeth). Finally, the rapid goes through a
series of slides just around the bend. Near the end of the run you will encounter a sloping falls
that looks undercut on river right and is guarded by an overhanging ledge on the right. A low water
inspection reveals the rocks aren't undercut enough to pose much danger, but there is a mean hole
at the bottom and a shaky line could get your head taken off (Call it IV+).
For the run, putin in Swanton, MD downstream of a bridge on river right
in the railroad
right-of-way. Please be discreet at the putin (come dressed to boat and leave as many vehicles as
you can at the takeout). There has been friction with a man who lives on river left at the putin
bridge. Takeout at the last bridge before the Savage Reservoir.
StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2007-03-26 17:03:14