This creek is very steep and very exciting. The action comes at you very fast and streambed is very rocky. Eddies are at a premium and trees are always a problem. You need to be at the top of your game on this creek. It throws a lot at you and you need lightning fast reflexes to make all the moves. I would rate it as a tougher run than the Upper Yough. This is one of my favorite streams in the whole state of Maryland! I always rush to it after a hard rain. Hunting Creek is born high on the mountain and gradually collects itself before falling off the edge. It careens off the mountain at Cunningham Falls (a cascade of about 80 feet) and then hits Cunningham Falls Lake. After a gnarly spillway that cascades 40 feet(which I have run), the creek finally becomes reasonably boatable. You can putin right below the spillway or 1/4 mile downstream at Catoctin Hollow Road. The first mile and a half of the stream flows swiftly over Class 1-2 rapids that gradually build to Class 2-3 rapids. By the time you reach the Rt. 77 bridge, the gradient has increased substantially and the creek is a raging torrent. Below Rt. 77, you'll notice the creekbed start tilting steeply downhill. The rapids come at you very quickly. After two blind 4 foot drops, you'll want to hop out on the right and scout 20 MPH. 20 MPH (Class 5) - This rapid is marked by a 20 mile per hour bend in the road. It is a very steep rapid and is more challenging than any single rapid on the Upper Yough, closely resembling an Upper Blackwater rapid with its steepness and the maneuvering required. Most of the water goes down the right side of an island and then is split by a boulder. There is a tight 6 foot boof to the left of the boulder or a cascady rock drop on the right. Immediately after landing off this drop, you will be faced with 2 very closely spaced 4 foot ledges through narrow slots. It is an extremely exciting rapid and is probably one of my favorites anywhere. Below here, cut right down an island where you'll have to duck a tree as you go off a 3 foot sloping ledge. The creek continues along dropping steadily for the next half mile. Soon, you'll see some small rock formations on your left. The creek enters a slide that ends in a 4 foot drop through a very narrow slot. This is immediately followed by another slide into a 5 foot sloping drop. The left side of this drop hits a rock and creates a wild curl which is probably best avoided. Head down the right but angle back to the left to avoid a big boulder on the right bank in the runout. After more rocky rapids, the creek will turn to the left and go over a 6 foot ledge. Most of the water goes left through a narrow notch with some wild boils and swirling currents. This is a very tricky rapid and has flipped many paddlers. If there is any doubt about the boiling mayhem on the left, just sneak down the middle and cascade down a shallow drop. From here to the lake are shallow Class 2 rapids. Frank Bentz Dam - This dam is 10 feet tall and can be run anywhere but the pool at the bottom is very shallow. I always run it on the left where it falls about 5 feet onto a boulder that you slide down. Sure, it can be a hard landing but I paddle Prijon boats which are known for being indestructible so what do I care about a little impact! :-) Bobby Miller
The last hard drop above the lake definitely feels like Class 5 if you're not on the right line. Scouting these last two drops would be a good idea.
This creek takes a lot of water to run and usually only runs on flash floods.
If the Catoctin gauge is over 500 cfs and rising, you have a good chance of catching this creek. It drops extremely fast so be quick.
There is a painted gauge at the Rt. 77 bridge by the ranger station (where the action starts). This should read 1 foot for a minimum. 1.5' is a very nice level. Above that and it is going to be a wild ride!
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Kevin running the dam
Boofing in 20mph
Kevin at the Top of 20 mph
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