A 209 day old warning about this river was added. Click on comments below to read it.

Youghiogheny - 2. Top

Youghiogheny, Maryland, US


2. Top (Bridge above Swallow Falls [State Park] to Deep Creek Power Plant)

Usual Difficulty IV-V (for normal flows)
Length 3 Miles
Avg. Gradient 83 fpm
Max Gradient 110 fpm


Photo of Richard Hopley running Swallow Falls by Pete Martin, Monocacy Canoe Club

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03075500 180 - 1000 cfs IV-V 01h12m 685 cfs (running)

River Description

Photo: Richard Hopley runs Swallow Falls, by Pete Martin. Photo courtesy of the Monocacy Canoe Club.

For a helmet-cam view of the run, check out this video from the Top Yough Race in April of 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3uD704nj5U&feature=related

American Whitewater editor Bob Gedekoh writes:
I just learned that several days ago a boater swam above the siphon on Suck Hole on the Top Yough and his boat went down it. Fortunately the boater managed to avoid going down the siphon too. (I was not there when it happened, but heard about it from those who were.) The boat disappeared completely. It was down in there for a couple of days, but has since been recovered. At any rate, the logs, etc that had been blocking the siphon for the past few years have shifted... and the siphon is once again open for business. I think a lot of younger boaters dont even know where the Suck Hole siphon is, or how dangerous it can be, since it has been blocked by debris for so long. Be careful and spread the word. Bob G (FYI the siphon drains the eddy that most people catch at the top of the rapid on the right. This is the eddy just above the huge midstream rock. Look behind you next time you are in that eddy and you will see it.)

Alternate takeout: paddle an extra 4 miles of flatwater and run the Upper Yough!

This one's maybe a little smaller and tighter than the Upper Yough. On balance, it's a bit easier, because the continuous rapids aren't quite so big. Nonetheless, it deserves respect and it's a lot of fun.
Gradient, from putin to takeout: 110, 110, 30. In other words, you have two very busy miles before it flattens.

Rapids of note:
Swallow Falls. This is the first rapid, a long slide into a hole. You don't want to go upside-down here, or your paddling clothing and/or skin might suffer. In addition, the hole can be a keeper at higher levels (~3.5'?). Though it looks intimidating, it's not that tough. Call it a Class IV.
Note: recently, a paddler sustained a back injury here. See this photo for a look at the piton rock which can cause injury.
Swallow Tail. This 6-foot riverwide ledge comes right after a large pool following Swallow Falls. A good read of the tongue and a few strong strokes should help you avoid some unintentional cartwheeling action. Call this a IV at low levels (less than 3.0?), because it's really a one-move pony; IV+ at higher water, because a successful run requires some precision.
Suckhole. This one is a fairly long, very technical rapid with holes and a sieve at the bottom of the big inviting eddy on the right. It's mostly a read-and-run rapid. Call it a 5.0 at 3.0+, because it's complex and there is that sieve.

Directions: To the putin: From I-68, get off at the Friendsville exit. Head South on Rte. 42 about 7 miles.
Head South on Rte. 219 for about 7 miles.
Turn Right on Mayhew Inn Rd.
After about 4 miles, bear left onto Oakland Sang Run Rd. Go about a mile, and park on the left, just before the bridge across the river.

To the Takeout (from the highway):
From I-68, get off at the Friendsville exit. Head South on Rte. 42 about 5 miles.
Head Right onto Gap Run Rd.
After about 0.7 miles, make a Left onto Bishoff Rd.
Head Right onto Sang Run Rd.
After a mile, turn Right onto Crabtree Bottom Rd.
After a mile, turn Right onto Hoyes Run Rd.
Make a Right onto Oakland Sang Run Rd.
The takeout is an easy walk from where you see the road (River View Terrace) from the river. If you see Gap Falls, you've paddled too far.

To get from the putin to the takeout, or vice versa, check the linked Google map.

A nice description of this run can be found at GORP.
Other related or nearby streams:
Lower Yough (Class III)
Bear Creek (Class IV)
Upper Yough (Class IV-V)
Middle Yough (Class II)

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2012-07-03 10:17:42


Stream team editor

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Put inPutin
0.2Swallow Falls.IVWaterfall Playspot Photo
0.3Swallowtail FallsIVPhoto
0.9Suck HoleIVHazard Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Put in
Nice parking area on river right at the bridge.

Swallow Falls. (Class IV, Mile 0.2)

Swallow Falls, MD

Swallow Falls, MD
Photo of Jeff Mayfield by Julie Black

A variety of routes depending on water levels. The scouting rocks on river right are very slippery.
Note: There's a piton rock at the bottom of the slide. In 2012, this was the scene of a back injury. Check out this photo to see the rock at low water.

Swallowtail Falls (Class IV, Mile 0.3)

Swallow Tail Falls

Swallow Tail Falls
Photo of Robin M. by Sam B. taken 02/29/04 @ 300cfs

A big-ol' ledge drop. At higher levels, this can be sticky.

Suck Hole (Class IV, Mile 0.9)

Suck Hole

Suck Hole
Photo of Wild Man Bruce by Sam B. taken 02/29/04 @ 300cfs

Eddy hop down the left. Don't go into the sieve on the right, just below the big rock at the top that hides most of the rapid. This sieve has swallowed numerous boats over the years. It's especially dangerous when it's not jammed full of logs, bottles, tires, woodchucks, and other debris.
Lat/longitude coordinates are an educated SWAG, from Google Satellite Map.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
June 27 2018 (209 days ago)
David MillrodDetails
On Sat 6/23/18 at 285 cfs a boater flipped above suckhole after hitting a submerged rock while
attempting to get to the river left eddy to avoid it. As she described it to me that day, she lost
her paddle and her capsized boat wedged into the entrance of the sieve. Realizing this, she pulled
her skirt, dove deep, and emerged from the other side unharmed. Obviously no one should assume they
would be equally lucky.
January 2 2017 (750 days ago)
Jimi NixonDetails
The Hoyes Run gauge right near the takeout of the Top:
January 7 2013 (2205 days ago)
paddlerslife (155098)
Hurricane Sandy devastated the Swallow Falls State Park. This especially goes for the river. There
is a lot of trees hanging in the water all through the run. Whenever going out make sure to
visually scout each rapid for shifting and changing wood situation. It will be a long time for the
river to return to something close to the Pre-Sandy quality. Beware that at even moderately high
water (300-600 cfs) the wood situation will change, even between laps!!! The worst rapid seems to
be the rapid below muddy creek confluence. Suck hole also filled with more wood but int he 300
range still has alot of water pushing through the siphon. This run isn't as friendly for newer
boaters as it was. Use good judgement and be safe out there.
October 31 2012 (2274 days ago)
Joseph HatcherDetails
As of 10/31/2012 there is a tree across the main drop of swallow falls and many trees sticking out
from the right bank. Due to the large snow storm be careful on this run, check all horizon lines
until the trees can be cleared.
April 30 2010 (3189 days ago)
Peter AbelesDetails
The directions to the put in are incorrect. It says, "turn right onto Oakland Sang Run Rd" that
will take you to the take out. You want to take a left at (google says to "continue") Oakland Sang
Run, a right at Swallow Falls Rd, and then park on the left after a mile or so. Below are
directions from Friendsville to the put in. Note that Swallow Falls is clearly visible in the
satellite map so this definitely the put in.
April 6 2010 (3213 days ago)
Robert FarmerDetails
So I visited the Top Yough for the first time in 14 years, and I didn't have perfect recall
concerning the proper line at Suckhole. I tried the most obvious line, with a vague feeling of some
partially-lost memory that there might be some hidden midstream rocks, but thinking that at this
higher water level (250 cfs/2.8) than my 2 last times, maybe it would go. Well, I pitoned into some
unseen, covered midstream rock(s), ricocheted over to broach on a rock on the right, and had an
all-too-interesting recovery, blah, blah, blah, ferrying river left 5 feet above Certain Death,
blah, blah, blah, etc. So on my second trip, while I was waiting for my partners who had somehow
gotten left behind, and after throwing a rope to a girl who turned out not to need it (nice
recovery, Flea), I spied a solo boater who seemed to know the True Line, and who paddled it
confidently and with nice momentum, and I, not being an idiot, immediately decided to emulate him,
'cause I know a good thing when I see it! Consequently, I'm here going to describe the ideal line
for you, in case you just have to run the hero route despite the presence of a perfectly good sneak
route tight to the left. First, a digression: The first mistake that I made on my first run was to
start right. This puts one at a bad angle upon entering the constriction at the main ledge.
Everything after that is just trying to recover. So, then, the friendliest approach to the hero
route starts tight left, drops over the small approach ledge, and then angles rightward across the
main ledge drop at the constriction. From here, stay right of the unseen, submerged midstream rocks
in the foamy, choppy water, and just left of the intermittently-covered flat rock on the right
(where Flea messed up), and then cut a smooth arc back to the left above the ugly pillowed rock
just above Suckhole, the left side of which is mildly undercut at this level, so try not to contact
it. Your line should describe a backwards C, or a parabola (I think) for you engineering types.
It's elegant and uncomplicated, and I hope that this will aid you so we can prevent the pile-up of
boats and corpses at Suckhole. Yeah, I always hate it when I have to paddle past a big pile of
smelly river-soaked corpses, so let's be safe out there.
May 25 2005 (4989 days ago)
go by cfs New

Forum: BoaterTalk
Re: Top Yough know it alls please read: bankfull1 New
Date: May 25 2005, 15:15 GMT
From: rloughne

180 is minimum
450 is medium
600 is juicy
1000 is one heck of a ride

its at 450 right now, should hold in the mid 200's for the weekend, which means lots of sweet
June 29 2002 (6050 days ago)
Ed EvangelidiDetails
The hard rapids actually start well upstream of the suggested putin. If you have an exploratory
mindset, check out this section too.

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