06 Jun 2018 Guide & Map to the Lower Youghiogheny River
The Lower Youghiogheny River – Pennsylvania’s Most Popular Whitewater Run
Where is the Lower Youghiogheny River?
The Lower Youghiogheny is a classic section of Class 3-4 whitewater that starts in the town of Ohiopyle, in southwestern Pennsylvania. The Lower Yough begins downstream of Ohiopyle Falls, right in the middle of town, and flows seven miles to the take-out at Bruner Run. This is the busiest section of whitewater east of the Mississippi River!
Is the Lower Yough the Same River as the Youghiogheny River?
The Lower Youghiogheny River is one section of the Youghiogheny River. The Youghiogheny River has 3 primary “river-sections”, that are immensely popular for river rafting; the Upper Youghiogheny (wild – Class 4-5), the Middle Youghiogheny (mellow – Class 2 ) and the Lower Youghiogheny (exciting – Class 3+). The entire Youghiogheny River is a 134-mile (216 km) tributary of the Monongahela River. The Lower Youghiogheny River is a section that is 7.5 miles.
What does “Youghiogheny” mean?
Youghiogheny is pronounced: Yok-i-gay-nee. It is also often called the Yough (Yok) for short.
How do you pronounce “Youghiogheny?
Youghiogheny is a Native American word meaning “a stream flowing in a contrary direction.” The Native Americans named it this because the river runs north through West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, instead of draining into the Atlantic going south.
Quick Facts About The Lower Youghiogheny River
- Length: 7.5 Miles
- Gradient: 25 feet per mile
- Difficulty: Class 3-4
- Season: March to October
- Rec. Level: 1.6′ to 6′
- Permits: Ohiopyle State Park
- Put-in: Below Ohiopyle Falls in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania
- Take-out: Below Bruner Run Rapid
- Guided Rafting Available: Yes
- Unguided Raft Rentals Available: Yes
- Experience Levels: No Experience needed to enjoy a guided rafting trip
About the Lower Yough River Rapids
The first mile of the Lower Yough is unique because it ends very close to where it begins. You can paddle or raft a one-mile loop of rapids by putting in below Ohiopyle Falls and taking-out on river right below Railroad Rapid. From there it’s a 5-10 minute walk back to the put-in.
You can choose to continue 6.5 miles downstream and paddle the entire Lower Yough, finishing at Bruner Run Rapid.
What Kinds of Boats & Gear Do You Need to Paddle the Lower Yough?
Only sturdily constructed rafts, kayaks, and closed-deck canoes intended for whitewater use may be used in the river, and all boaters are required to wear a United States Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device, Type I, III, or V.
Does the River Level Change Much During the Season?
River levels can change the difficulty of rapids. This is actually a really good question! The Lower Yough is both a dam-controlled river with a dam upstream at Confluence, PA and the water levels can vary day to day based on season rainfall. You can get the best of both worlds if you love paddling! There is always a minimum consistent flow of water such that rafting is available all season long, no matter if there is little rainfall that season. When it rains though, as with every river, dammed or not, the water will typically go up and then the rafting becomes a faster and even more exciting ride. There are high water levels at which we will not raft, if the rainfall has been extreme. That’s pretty rare. Always check at the launch area or contact the park office for current water levels.
Do You Need Experience to Raft the Lower Yough River?
If you’re not experienced in whitewater, it’s best to run this section of the river on a guided raft trip, as the natural river environment contains undercut rocks, ledges, and swift currents. You do not need any prior experience paddling or rafting to enjoy a guided rafting trip as your guide will navigate the river skillfully, either in your boat (if a fully-guided trip) or with instructions to your boat if you are on a guide-assisted trip. If you want to rent a raft and be your own captain, we do strongly recommend prior paddling experience to navigate the river successfully and maximize your fun.
Where to Rent Boats for the Lower Yough River
Equipment rentals are available at Wilderness Voyageurs. See the full mix of boat types available here.
Shuttles, Fees and Launch Times Information for Private Boaters on the Lower Yough
To schedule a launch time, make a reservation online or call 888-PA-PARKS. Remember, there is a fee to launch boats on weekends and holidays on the Lower Yough. During the week, boaters must sign-in at the launch area. Every day in the summer, boaters must also buy a shuttle bus token. The bus token will get you to the top of the hill after the take-out, but not back to Ohiopyle. (In other words, you still have to run shuttle. Make sure a car is waiting at the top of the hill for you.) The bus token is a wristband. There’s a different color for each day. If you want to buy shuttle tokens for future runs, ask at the booth.
Running Ohiopyle Falls on the Lower Yough
Experienced paddlers in whitewater kayaks and canoes can now run Ohiopyle Falls!
To run the falls, the water level has to be 1.8 feet or lower on the USGS Gauge. You’ve got to have at least two buddies with you (three boaters total) and register at the Lower Yough launch booth and get a launch permit. You can’t use the Lower Yough launch area as a take-out – the state park specifics that boaters who run the falls must take out at the Loop on Ferncliff or at Bruner Run.
Call 888-PA-PARKS with any questions.
To rent rafts, book a guided rafting trip, call 1-800-272-4141!
PO Box 97
103 Garrett St
Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania 15470
Call: (800) 272-4141