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River Difficulty

 

68 Whitewater Rivers
Ranked In Difficulty

by Ron Knipling

The list below rank orders 68 whitewater rivers in difficulty .It is based on a 1992 survey of 29 members of the Blue Ridge Voyageurs canoe club. On average, respondents had paddled 38 of the 68 rivers, and had more than 10 years of whitewater experience. Each respondent rank-ordered those rivers that he or she had paddled. The median inter-correlation between rankings of different boaters was +0.85, indicating moderately high agreement. The consensus list was generated using a stepwise, paired-comparison method. In other words, River #1 was rated harder than River #2 by paddlers who had paddled both rivers, #2 was rated harder than #3, and so on down the list. There were some ties between successive rivers; these ties were broken based on the two rivers' relative rankings in comparison to other rivers on the list. The survey "margin of error" is, in general, about +3 ranks. And, of course, river difficulty may vary dramatically under different water and weather conditions.

If you have questions about CCA trips, contact trips@canoecruisers.org.

All paddlers should be familiar with the American Whitewater Safety Code. If you paddle the more difficult rivers you should take a Swift Water Rescue class and a Wilderness Firs Aid class.

 

A=Advanced, HI=High Intermediate, I=Intermediate, LI=Lower Intermediate, PN=Practiced Novice

 

1.   A-Upper Yough 35. I-Upper Rapidan (above Wolftown)
2.   A-Upper Shavers Fork 36. I-Rock Creek DC below Military Rd
3.   A-Upper Gauley 37. I-Covington River
4.   A-Chattooga Section 4 38. I-Cub Run (fall line)
5.   A-Middle Fork Tygart 39. I-Dry Fork of the Cheat
6.   A-Tygart Gorge 40. I-NF SB Potomac/Hopeville Canyon
7.   A-North Branch Potomac/Kitzmiller 41. I-Nantahala River
8.   A-Lower Gauley 42. I-Pohick Creek
9.   A-Tygart Arden 43. I-Cheat Narrows
10. A-New River Gorge 44. I-NB Potomac/Bloomington
11. A-Cheat Canyon 45. I-Passage Creek Gorge
12. A-Savage @ 1000 cfs 46. I-Shenandoah Staircase
13. A-Buckhannon (Alton to Sago) 47. I-Casselman (Markleton -Ft. Hill)
14. A-Maury/Goshen Pass 48. I-Gunpowder Falls below Rt.1
15. A-Laurel Fork, below Rt.33 49. I-Muddy Creek, PA
16. A-Wills Creek, below Fairhope 50. LI-Lehigh (Rockport -Jim Thorpe)
17. A-Ocoee 51. LI-Patapsco above Ellicott City
18. HI-Chattooga Section 3 52. LI-Potomac below Great Falls @ 3.5'
19. HI-Upper Big Sandy 53. LI-North Anna
20. HI-Lower Yough 54. LI-Rappahannock / Fredericksburg
21. HI-Trout Run, WV 55. LI-Robinson (Rose R. to Rt.29)
22. HI-Middle Fork Salmon, ID 56. LI-Rappahannock/Kelly's Ford
23. HI-Seneca Creek, WV 57. LI-Potomac Needles
24. HI-Stony Creek, PA 58. LI-Thornton River
25. HI-Lost River Dry Gorge 59. LI-Hughes (& Hazel) River
26. HI-James River, Richmond 60. LI-Cacapon (Rt.50-Rt.127)
27. HI-Upper Tye River 61. LI-Middle Yough
28. HI-Bullpasture Gorge 62. PN-Goose Creek (Dam-Rt.7)
29. I-North River Gorge, VA 63. PN-Cedar Creek
30. I-Upper Conway 64. PN-Sideling Hill Creek
31. I-Little Falls Potomac @ 3.0' 65. PN-Potomac/Violette's Lock "Loop"
32. I-SF SB Potomac/Moorefield Canyon 66. PN-Upper Rap above Rt.211
33. I-SB Potomac / Smokehole Canyon 67. PN-Antietam Creek below battlefield
34. I-Tohickon Creek, PA 68. PN-SF Shenandoah (Compton area).