What Charlie said. It was a beautiful day on a special creek, watch for wood, and don't park on avilton-lonaconing.
Some stats: Barton gauge was at 650 cfs and steady, and there was plenty of water. Higher or a little lower would have been good too, but 650 is lots of water. Also, it's a short distance on the map but a much longer distance on the water. The creek takes a *lot* of twists and turns (check it out on Google Maps). It took us 2.5 hours from put-in to take-out, with no breaks and the creek screaming along the whole way.
On March 24, 2007 we encountered two unpleasantly aggressive landowners at the bridge where Avilton-Lonaconing Road crosses the Savage. Signs read "DNR and everyone else keep out". They own both sides downstream, one side upstream, and act like they own everything else! We had an entire family screaming at us as we attempted to launch from an unposted stretch of river across the street from them,and they continued when we moved to put in along the bridge right if way.
We were probably in the right, but we didn't want to risk my buddy's unattended shuttle truck. We continued across the bridge towards Lonaconing and took a left turn following signs towards the Savage River Inn. There is parking on state-owned property where the road crosses the river. It adds a few miles of fast-moving flatwater to the trip at 750 cfs at Barton.
It's a beautiful run through one of the prettiest gorges I've seen. It's isolated, lush, and unspoiled. There are high cliffs, beautiful waterfalls, and interesting rock outcropings.
Watch out for strainers! We carried the "strong class IV" towards the end of the gorge. There's lots of fresh rockfall and large boulders block many chutes. We took out at the Westernport Road Bridge.
The gorge is Class II-III with one IV++ drop. The person who says it's Class II is referring to the section below our takeout. The river here is milder and less scenic.
This is a great class II run. Paddled it on March 15, 2007 at about 800 cfs. There was no class IV as previous commenter indicated.
Savage Lake is long and very narrow and has mountains that come up right next to the lake. This has attracted many boaters who like scenic flatwater.
Ran this 5-13-2017. Barton Gauge was 650 and steady. This was an ideal level. I wouldn't want any more or less. There were 4 wood portages from the put-in at Mt Aetna Rd. to Avilton-Lonaconing Bridge. There was also some ducking and dodging here. The creek is really small in this stretch and braids at one point. Below the Avilton-Lanoconing Bridge things started to get better. The creek got wider and started to pick up rapids. There were 2 portages early on. There were no wood portages in the gorge but many blind turns. We boat scouted cautiously. The gorge was beautiful and was a fun class 2-3 paddle. The big rapid was evident around a slight bend to the right. At this level, the pool above was flowing and there was a sufficient eddy on river right. Below the big rapid, the creek began to feel less gorge like, wider with continuous class 2 and few eddies. There were a couple trees that we barely ducked under and another portage. There were also a few ledges and another braided section at one point. We took out just above the Westernport bridge on river left.
The first 6.5 miles, down to the bridge at Westernport Road in Merrill, is a real delight. We were also accosted at the put in by one of the land owners, who warned us not to put in from his property. His complaint is that DNR refused to stock the river, so in retaliation he is barring access to everyone. But his neighbor across the road, by the commercial place, was away, and he expressed no views about our putting in there, so we did.
The run is mostly class II, with a few spots low class III. Then, about 2/3 of the way through, we came across the class V, which is not too hard to spot in advance (there is a big eddy above it, and a huge boulder in the middle guarding the first drop). It was quite a treat watching Sean Chapelle run it, so smoothly that it almost made the rest of us feel that we could handle it too. He entered on the left, caught an eddy quickly on the right, boofed sideways over the big drop, and turned sharply to slip between the undercut wall and the roostertail. The rest of us portaged various distances on the right. Our flow was 300 cfs at Barton, which was fine for most of the trip, but actually a bit low towards the end, where the creek widens out -- plus the level was dropping, as we were moving more slowly than the water.
We ran the section from Avilton-Lonaconing Rd. to Westernport Rd. on 2Aug08. By reports, it had rained hard in the area overnight. Based on the 500 cfs reading at Barton at 1pm, we put on around 4:30pm. By the data here, at 6pm which was the halfway point for the trip, the gauge had fallen to around 350 cfs. The water we had was entirely too low. We scraped nearly the entire time with some parts literally unboatable. I'm very forgiving of scrapey rivers and this was way too low even by my standards. The run seemed like it would definitely be entertaining with more water.
Midway through this class II run there is a Strong class IV. It has been told to me that the name of it Jacobs Ladder by locals.
The minimum level is a suggestion from Steve Ettinger.
Permits are not required for this reach.
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