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Difficulty IV
Length 7 Miles
Flow Range 240 - 2000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 50 minutes ago 74 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 12/04/2013 4:58 pm

River Description

Gertler, Ed; Maryland and Delaware Canoe Trails
This one is often run when the Upper Yough is too high. It's basically a roadside drainage ditch, with the resultant imperfect water quality and scenery, but it can be fast and continuous--a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. When it's roaring along at 1000 cfs, it's Class V. And you'd best be lookin' for wood.

Directions: follow the road out of Friendsville. One good putin is at a roadside pulloff just upstream of a small bridge; but there are others. The takeout is at the confluence with the Yough, at the park in Friendsville.

Ed Evangelidi testifies:
First half of the run has easier whitewater (Class III) but often has more wood in the stream. With more water, the south branch is also runnable.

Rapid Descriptions


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Robert Farmer
12 years ago

This is a lovely stream that is near a road that is usually barely noticeable. When I did it a few years ago, we put in below an obvious concrete bridge that was too low at that level to navigate. There was one tree portage and one or two logs to paddle around. The first scoutable drop was a tight plunge between overhanging branches down a diagonal ramp to the left. The wave at the bottom was intimidating, but not malevolent. The next big drop is a broken ledge adjacent to the elevated patio of a house. Scouting is advised. Below here, the channel is worked by bulldozers and less attractive, but still fun. After an initial cautious run, it's no problem to bomb down in less than an hour, generally when everything else is too high. The streambed is narrow and fast! Great fun!

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Dan Rabun
15 years ago

I'd say a reasonable minimum for most people would be 225 cfs or so. My first run was at that level, and the upper portion was extremely scrapey. Personally, I think 250-400 is a nice level, 300-375 being ideal. I'd have to recommend only boating the bottom 3 miles, and taking out at the park in Friendsville. The Upper section is very pretty, but lots of wood.

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Mark Anderson
15 years ago

I'd have to take issue with the Gertler description - perhaps he was on another stream. I found the water clear when I was there - wintertime though - and the banks are lined with mountain laurel and hemlock trees. It is true the last bit has camphouses along it, but I found this run to be surprisingly pretty given its proximity to the road.

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dean martin
2 years ago

ran it at 351 cfs. a few trees down. major strainer after hot tub rapid.

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Chris Preperato
7 years ago

Paddled Bear a lot this spring, often putting in just above where an old metal bridge crosses the creek. It makes for about a 4 mile run including most of the best rapids, though there is an even lower put-in that skips some of the early class 2-3 stuff.

The first mile is generally class 2-3 boogie water, then the river picks up through a few slides and boulder gardens, fun Class III+ rapids. It ends that stretch with a bend to the right and a creek coming in on the left (one of the Forks of Bear Creek). The next rapid is a really fun boulder garden with multiple lines, and probably the best rapid on the river. Another rapid leads you to a left bend in the river, which leads to a horizon line that is tough to see past. It is slide that can be run just about anywhere, as the rock that used to be in the landing at the bottom middle has washed away. A few more boulder garden rapids (and a few bridges) lead you to the end of the run. Just after the last bridge as you approach the park in town is a great 4-5ft boof rock, a nice way to end your trip. It's a great stretch to use as a warm-up for a day that includes Meadow, Fikes, or other similar creeks in the area. I found 350cfs and up to be great levels, it starts getting pretty scrapy below 300cfs.

The stream was clear of trees as of the Fall of 2011, though it is definitely in a wooded area, so always keep on the lookout. There aren't many blind rapids though, so you should be able to spot them in advance.

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Mark Zak
10 years ago

Was on bear on 8/2/2008 at well over 1,500 cfs. Trees were very much an issue in the upper half. Only one tree was especially a problem mid-rapid and led to a member of our group broaching, swimming and walking off. The others were carefully avoidable. Use caution. Another crew took off of Bear within the first few miles because of wood.

Summary of Gauge Readings

Gets very pushy at 1000 cfs. Eddies will become few.

Gauge NameReadingTimeComment
AW Gauge Info
74 cfs 00h50m n/a

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.


No Accident Reports




article main photo

Upper Yough Access Fundraiser a Big Success

2019-01-07 21:16:00-05
Charlie Walbridge

Tonight American Whitewater presented the Town of Friendsville, Maryland with a $5000 check towards the extension of the Upper Yough Access Parking Area. This, combined with a $1000 donation from Keelhaulers Canoe Club, made a strong statement of how much paddlers value the river and the town! Under the leadership of Mayor Spencer Schlosnagle and long time paddler and Friendsville resident Jess Whittemore the town raised $7 in additional funding for every dollar paddlers donated - just like they did on the initial construction! This makes these gifts a great value for the whitewater community. A big shout out and thank you to ALL who donated!


Matt Muir


Jeff Paine