Youghiogheny Scenic & Wild River
The Youghiogheny Scenic and Wild River is part of the large Mississippi River watershed that stretches from the western slope of the Appalachian Mountains in the east to the Rockies in the west. Beginning in the gently rolling farmlands of southern Garrett County, the Youghiogheny cuts a northward path through some of the most rugged mountain scenery in Maryland before running into Pennsylvania and merging with the Monongahela at McKeesport, Pennsylvania.
The Youghiogheny drains an area encompassing approximately 397 square miles in Maryland. In its first 20 miles, the river meanders through a pastoral setting of farms and wood lots occasionally paralleled by country roads or railroad tracks. North of the town of Oakland, the character of the river changes as the river valley narrows, deepens, and becomes heavily forested. From Swallow Falls to Hoyes Run, the Youghiogheny enters a stretch of falls and rapids with a drop in elevation of 280 feet in four miles.
At Hoyes Run, a relatively smooth stretch of river can be found all the way to Gap Falls, just north of Sang Run. At that point, the most rugged and inaccessible section of the river runs wild and free to the town limits of Friendsville, dropping in elevation an average of over 100 feet per mile.
In 1976 a 21 mile long segment of the Youghiogheny was designated as Maryland's first Wild River. A state protected corridor along the river runs from Miller's Run just north of Oakland to the town of Friendsville. This corridor is managed by the Maryland Park Service to preserve the wild and natural scenic, geologic, historic, ecologic, recreational, fish, wildlife, and cultural resources.
Read a 1989 Youghiogheny River Recreational Capacity Study conducted by Penn State University, as well as additional study assessments noted below.
- Youghiogheny River Recreational Use Assessment
- Youghiogheny River Environmental Impact Assessment
- Youghiogheny River Recreational Capacity Assessment
The Youghiogheny Scenic and Wild River : study and management plan
Publication Date: 1996
Author: Maryland Dept of Natural Resources Public Lands Resource Planning, Youghiogheny River Local Advisory Board
View the Youghiogheny Scenic and Wild River Plan
Man's Use of the River
During the late 1800's, Garrett County prospered and grew and its economy was based primarily on agriculture, timber, and coal. The arrival of the B&O railroad to Garrett County after the Civil War opened the area's natural resources to large scale harvest and development. Besides providing a form of transportation for people, the railroad offered a means of moving the timber resources of Garrett County to markets in the east. Because of the multitude of falls and rapids timber could not be floated downstream. Logging railroads penetrated the Youghiogheny river valley permitting exploitation of its timber and coal.
In 1889, the Confluence and Oakland Railroad was built to reach the timberlands along the river held by the Yough Manor Land Company. It followed the path of the river south from Confluence, Pennsylvania through Friendsville, to the town of Kendall (originally called Krug). Here was headquartered two major lumber companies, the A. Knabb Co. which manufactured barrels and staves from the white oak in the valley, and the Kendall Lumber Co. which maintained a large sawmill at the site. As of 1908, Kendall was a thriving town, however operations at the mills ceased by 1912 as the timber in the river valley was depleted. Today, little remains of the town of Kendall.
As the timber and coal industries along the Youghiogheny waned, the land regenerated naturally and through the efforts of many thoughtful landowners the river valley regained much of its original beauty. The Department of Natural Resources is currently purchasing lands along the river in an effort to preserve the valley for the enjoyment of future generations.
In October of 2008, The Maryland Park Service acquired Friendís Delight, an 81 acre tract of land, originally settled by John Friend in 1769 after bartering with the Shawnee tribe. The area that is open seasonally to the public includes a picnic shelter near the river and an Appalachian mountain heritage Store. Friendís Store has been a central point of contact for members of the Friend family and the Sang Run community for well over a century. The Friend family proprietor sold food staples in the tiny store and also bought, sold and traded ginseng for the local folk. Volunteers open the Friendís Store each Monday in July and August to sell locally hand made crafts and food snacks reminiscent of country living and trade stories of the history of the area. The Youghiogheny River shelter, also known as Friendís Delight, is available for rental through the Maryland State Park Reservation service.
- Pets are allowed on the Youghiogheny Wild River.
As the Maryland Park Service conducts its management activities along the Youghiogheny River valley, numerous sites containing rare, threatened, or endangered plants and animals have been discovered. Tucked away in small, forgotten slopes and hollows can be found a diversity of at least 11 animal and 15 plant species that are threatened or endangered on a statewide or national basis.
The remote and rugged character of much of the river corridor is partly responsible for the presence of viable populations of these rare species. The Service is engaged in an ongoing management program that includes reasonable and wise land use regulation of private land logging, use, and development to ensure their continued presence.
Visiting the River
Most of the river corridor lies within private landholdings. Visitors must take precautions to avoid trespass.
Public access points can be found at Swallow Falls State Park, in the Sang Run area off of Sang Run Road, and from Friendsville south along the Kendall Trail. The best trail access for hiking is found at Swallow Falls State Park. The old logging railroad right-of-way may be followed north from the east side of the river. The Hoyes Run area is also a public access point for fly fishing (catch and release only). These points of access are primarily primitive and rugged, and have no comfort facilities. Every effort should be taken by users to be familiar with the skills needed to safely enjoy the remote and primitive environment of the river.
Park Headquarters is located at Deep Creek Lake State Park, on State Park Road off of Glendale Road. Information can be obtained here during business hours Monday through Friday. If you need emergency assistance, call the DNR communication center at 410-260-8888 or dial 911. General park information can be obtained at 301-387-5563.
Whitewater boating has become an increasingly popular way for many to experience the wildness of the Youghiogheny. The river is extremely difficult and potentially dangerous and must be treated with respect. Information on whitewater boating may be obtained at the park office.
Hunting and fishing is permitted in the park's backcountry areas during regular seasons. Applicable regulations and license requirements apply.
The Youghiogheny River is a well known catch and release trout fishery. Visit this website for further information: www.dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/recreational/fwhotyoughcr.html
WGCSPVI is the official Volunteer organization known as the Western Garrett County State Park Volunteers, Inc Ė a non-profit group, encompassing Deep Creek Lake State Park and others. The purpose of the organization is to assist park staff in operation of programs, work the desk when necessary, conduct special events, assist in trail maintenance, lead or assist with interpretive hikes, conduct fundraising for special projects, handle gardening tasks and MUCH more. "Click here" to read about volunteer opportunities.
Upper Yough Expeditions: 800-248-1893
Precision Rafting: 800-477-3723
Whitewater Classic Ltd. (Ohiopyle Trading Post): 888-644-6795
Wilderness Voyageurs: 800-272-4141
White Water Adventures: 800- 992-7238
Laurel Highlands River Tours: 800-472-3846
Brookfield Renewable Power owns and operates the hydroelectric power plant on Deep Creek Lake. Their website is www.deepcreekhydro.com The whitewater release schedule is posted there as well as the lake elevation of Deep Creek Lake and other interesting information about the creation of the dam and history of the project.
Youghiogheny Scenic and Wild River Regulations COMAR .08.15
- General Regulations - COMAR .08.15.01
- Permitted use and Development - COMAR .08.15.02
- Exemption - COMAR .08.15.03
- Commercial Whitewater Boating Safety - COMAR .08.15.04
Location - The Youghiogheny Wild and Scenic River is located in far western Garrett County between Friendsville and Oakland.
Maryland Park Service
Youghiogheny Scenic and Wild River
c/o Deep Creek Lake Recreation Area
898 State Park Road
Swanton, Maryland 21561
(301) 387-4462 fax