Negotiate the small ledges and rocks at the top, then either slide down the left or boof off the center. There's also a high-water sneak on the right called Norman's Leap. The rock shelf protruding from the left bank below the drop is slightly undercut and there can be some very retentive holes
enter from river left of the nasty hole, boof through an angled ledge, and gnerally stay right. For extra challenge, try catching the 4 eddies. A short pool separates S-Turn from the Spout, with a convenient staging eddy on the right.
The Spout is the tallest individual drop in Great Falls at about 18-22 feet with a sloping lip. the current is pushing to the right, curving down a 4' slope, and falling off to the left.
The standard 'old school' line is to start in the river right eddy and drive hard left across the lip and boof when the ramp ends. Lots of people will inevitable misjudge the current here and end up falling off sideways in the middle....The hole becomes really powerful above 3.1, and a rock behind the curtain (Big Toe) becomes exposed below 2.8.
Many people now prefer the right lines. The far right line involves driving up onto the boil at the lip and boofing onto a rock shelf jutting out from shore. It looks ugly but runs pretty smooth. Skipping off the shelf is actually softer on your back than landing in the green water on the left.
The preffered line is the right of center, boof off the curler, race line. similar to the far right line, but just clipping the edge of the boil, and taking a huge lefty off the curler that falls into the meat of the hole. Run well, this will give you some serious air time but you should either land clear of the hole or in the seam, reemerging with a mighty salmon jump
The Crack (Class 5.2) is a high-water (3.3 < LF < 3.70) alternate line to the Spout. It requires you to ferry across powerful current and hit a boat-width slot at full speed. If you miss the slot, or get rejected by the boils guarding it, you will wash over the Spout backwards and get destroyed.
On July 19, 2008, an attractive blonde lady took great pictures of me on the Spout (of Great Falls) and promised to send them to me, but I never heard from her. This is probably a long shot, but if anyone happens to run into her, or if she sees this, please send pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org, call me at 410-624-6421, or mail me at P.O. Box 41115 Baltimore, MD 21203. I was in an orange boat with red or purple paddles, black lifejacket, and red helmet. Thanks---RF
Shiver me timbers, them's some great inoframtion.
Thanks for your input. As the streamkeeper, I have to use my best judgment when listing river data. The solutions aren't always ideal, but I will try to explain my rationale with regard to gradient. "Please explain how a 1 mile stretch of river can have average gradient of 100 fpm and maximum gradient of 500 fpm." The river drops 100 feet between the put-in and the take-out, which are 1 mile apart. So the average gradient is 100 fpm. However, the heart of the run drops 50 feet in 0.1 miles, for a maximum gradient of 500 fpm. "Maximum gradient figures cited 'up top' should always be computed across a full mile, otherwise they are meaningless." Says who? There is no standard way to calculate gradient. Leland Davis calculates gradient mile by mile in NC Rivers & Creeks, but Stafford and McCutcheon use terms like "200 fpm," "200 fpm action," and "200 fpm crux" in The New Testament. Which is right? Great Falls is a park and huck, so calculating gradient mile by mile would be meaningless. Nobody puts in above Great Falls unless they plan on running it. They're not there for the paddle in and the paddle out. The only section that counts is Great Falls itself, which is 500 fpm. I would put "500 fpm crux" if I could, but the AW page builder doesn't give me that option. Furthermore, removing the 500 fpm maximum gradient from 'up top' could mislead people into thinking Great Falls is no steeper than the Upper Yough. "If you wish to convey that some shorter portion has steeper gradient, you may express that within the text of the description..." The description includes the following statement: "The main Falls lines drop fifty feet in one-tenth of a mile." The reason I include the maximum gradient up top is that nobody reads the description.
Please explain how a 1-mile stretch of river can have average gradient of 100 FPM and maximum gradient of 500 FPM. Maximum gradient figures cited 'up top' should always be computed across a full mile, otherwise they are meaningless. If you wish to convey that some shorter portion has steeper gradient, you may express that within the text of the description (as "the river drops 50 feet in a quarter mile, for an effective gradient of 200 FPM") but that should NOT be in the 'Maximum Gradient' area.
I was out here the other day to run the Spout. The temperature was supposedly about 93 degrees, but, even though I arrived on Flake Island after sunset, the heat was very, very oppressive. Sitting down to rest did not help, as the rocks were super-heated by the sun to around 120 degrees. I was rapidly becoming seriously dehydrated and probably lost about 30 percent of my strength before putting in to run the rapid. This rapid should probably not be scouted during daylight in the summer. So watch out for the summer heat; I came close to having a heat stroke!!! Also, the water temperature is close to 100 degrees, too, so it provides close to zero cooling.
The VA Lines are most commonly run between 2.9 and 3.1, but they can be run a little lower and certainly much higher if you have enough skill and knowledge of the river. The limiting factor is usually the Spout. There's a rock behind the curtain called the Big Toe that comes into play as the level drops below 3.0; one local shattered his elbow on it below 2.8. Above 3.2 the hole at the base of the Spout gets really violent, These days, most paddlers are running it on the right. At higher water, U-hole and S-turn merge into one big technical rapid and setting safety is a good idea. Virginia is runnable up to 4 feet but 95% of local paddlers' personal cut off is between 3.1 and 3.4
The gage is located at Little Falls (aka Brookmont) Dam, where the river is very wide. Consequently, an inch on the gage can translate to a foot at Great Falls. The gage is also 8-9 miles downstream, so if the river is rising or falling rapidly there could be a discrepancy between the gage reading and the actual level. Scout the rapids visually if there is any doubt. (You were going to do that anyway, right?)
USGS Potomac River / Little Falls Gage
NOAA Prediction for Little Falls Gage
Surfin 'O' Deck
Carvin It UP!!!
Mike on Crack
2nd Descent of the Spout
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