River and Outfitter Ratings

Listed below are ratings of outfitters and rivers received from readers of this web system.  The ratings are in no particular order, and do not include any flames (I don't want to be sued).  Constructive criticism is allowed if it is phrased tactfully.  If you want to add your comments, send me an email at ab257removexthis@ptd.net (add the word Lehigh in the subject line so it will get past my spam filters), or see the  rating instruction page.


 Northern Outdoors    - KENNEBEC and DEAD Rivers in Maine

July, 2007
Here's my review of Northern Outdoors located in The Forks, Maine.  

I highly recomend Northern Outdoors.  I rafted with this outfit twice, once on the Kennebec R. and once one the Dead R.  Plus, I camped at their facitiy both times.  Being the oldest outfitters on the river they are able to offer a couple perks;  first outfitter on the river, best lunch spot on the river.  The food is superb.  The staff is excelent.  The equipment is top notch.  And the best part is the onsite brewery.  They make and serve their own beer at their headquarters.  And it's very gooooood.

Stephen Red Bank, NJ


 MAGIC FALLS RAFTING - KENNEBEC

I saw your web page with a pretty good list of outfitters and there are many missing from the Downeast section.  The only one I'd like to
comment on is Magic Falls Rafting Co.:

http://www.mint.net/magic/
1-800-207-RAFT
Dave and Donna Neddeau
Rte. 4, Box 2820
Winslow, ME 04901
adventures@magicfalls.com

I've gone with them 4 or 5 times on the Kennebec.  I believe they were the first in Maine to offer two day ducky/sit-on-top and rafting weekends.  The duckies were a great introduction to kayaking the first year.  After that they had plastic sit-on-tops for more experienced paddlers and they were a wonderful way to experience kayaking.  They take you down just the class III and II section which is loads of fun and not too scary.  The day also includes a walk to Moxie Falls, the largest falls in New England and a great place to swim and have lunch.  The rafting day is everything it's cracked up to be.  Dave does an excellent job making sure everyone has a great time but also a safe experience.  Donna does a great job running the backroom.  I had been with another company on the Kennebec which has since gone out of business and with a larger company on the Penobscot.  And I keep coming back to Dave & Donna because they make you feel special and make sure you have a great time.  The other companies treated me more like just another customer.

  Thanks and a tip of the hat to Bonnie F.


Appalachian Wildwaters - Gauley River

Rafted with Appalachian Wildwaters Sept. 14,15 1997.  We did the Gauley River - middle lower on the 14th.  double upper on the 15th.  We were in a 12' raft, with the  water high and fast -  If you raft during the Gauley season then you're going to have that.  It was our 2nd Gauley season w/AW and a repeat of last year.  Great river and great company.  AW gives every rafter exactly what they want out of a trip!  The guides know every inch of the river or so they tell us.  I for one believe it.  A+ for AW, and the Gauley deserves a better rating than that.  We will be rafting with AW on the upper Yough in May 1998.  I expect  the same quality rafting and expertise from guides and a new river for the River Pirates.  We'll be glad to let you know how that one turns out providing we live through another rafting season.

Muchas gracias to dawg6767 - Ralph G.


Laurel Highlands - Cheat
USA Raft, NOC - Nolichucky
August 11, 1997
 I'm a 47-year old physician who likes to run rivers with my kids (14 and 17 yoa). I first ran the Nantahala 20 years ago and have been on several rivers since. The Nantahala is a good river for beginners. I ran it with  NOC and they were very good. More recent memories: Cheat-Great river. lots of whitewater. I ran it with Laurel Highlands twice. June of 95 and 96. In 95 the water level was high enough for 8 man rafts and we had 4 people plus a guide in the raft and a great time. I was not impressed with the skill of the guides. Mostly college students. The second run, the water level was lower and we took 4 man rafts. There were 40 people on the trip and only 4 guides, one in the front raft, two in the back raft and one in a kayak. It took forever to run the river from rafts being in the wrong place secondary to lack of guidance.  Good river though, I would definitely like to run the Cheat again.

Nolichucky- Ran it yesterday with NOC. The guides were quite knowledgeable and helpful. Some people were in ducks and some in rafts. The water level quite low (1.3 feet), but we rarely got hung up and no one was endangered. This company is the most expensive, and it is not clear why. Food is all about the same. We also had to bail our rafts and some of the other companies I noticed were using self-bailing rafts. An advantage to NOC and USA Raft is that their HQs are right on the river at the end of the trip so no long bus rides back to a hot shower. NOC could use more showers (only 2). USA Raft appeared to have more showers and were cheaper, so if I was going to run this river again, I would try them.

Thanks bunches to Ward R.

Laurel Highlands - Cheat : My WV Carpe Diem, By B B.

Laurel Highlands – Cheat River , WV Thursday June 18,1998 Class IV

Precision Rafting – Little Sandy Creek, WV Friday June 19, 1998 Class III- IV at that level

Precision Rafting – Upper Youghiogheny, MD Saturday June 19, 1998 Class IV-V

Having rafted the Lehigh River, the Lower Yough, and the Tohickon, I was ready to add a new notch to my experience paddle. Several WV outfiitters’ brochures stated the Cheat River was the next step up as far as whitewater challenges go. With this in mind and the abundance of rain recently, I checked the USGS Cheat Albright gauge site and called several outfitters on June 16 to see if they were still running the Cheat. Some had stopped running it altogether while others were running it only on weekends. Laurel Highlands was the only outfitter I could find that actually had a trip planned during the week. So, I made my reservation for Thursday since the river was unsafely high on Wednesday ( Over 7 ft after using Albright conversion formula). Hovering around 6 feet on Thursday, the guides decided to run the Canyon section as planned in the 8 person self bailers. Had it been any higher, they would have run the Cheat Narrows section south of Albright (Please keep in mind the Cheat flows south to north). Since some of the 22 member party were first timers, we avoided many of the bigger rapids and holes (Big Nasty and Recyclotron ) for safety reasons. This conservative nature of the guides was somewhat disappointing. Bo, our raft’s guide, and fortunately for us, the most experienced, said afterward swimming through any of those big rapid sections and holes would NOT have been fun that day. Much more enjoyable, a safe trip would more than likely bring a return visit. I will most likely return to try this river again, esp the rapids that we avoided, at a lower level (around 4‘). Since we finished the trip in 2 ½ hours, the buffet deli style lunch was provided back in Albright with your choice of lunchmeat, fruit, cookies, and sport drinks. The outdoor showers back at the Albright change house were a welcome sight after the dirty, sulfurous Cheat water. Finishing so early on Thursday, I decided to head on down to Davis, WV for some great mountain biking. After stopping at Blackwater Bikes for some trail maps, I rode the, rather muddy, Dobbins House trail at Blackwater Falls State Park and had the pleasure (?) of seeing a black bear scurry away. Luckily, I never encountered a rattlesnake. Tired from the rafting and biking that day, I was looking forward to good night’s sleep at the Blackwater Falls State Park and more biking tomorrow.

Thanks to B B - go to Precison Raftings Section for the rest of the story.


 The Rivermen - Gauley
Fall, 1997
Last fall I rafted the Gauley River in West Virginia with The Rivermen. As you probably know, the Gauley is a dam controlled river. For 22 days every year, there are scheduled dam releases. We rafted the lower and upper Gauley on dam release days. The Gauley has rapids ranging from class III-V+.

We were very impressed with The Rivermen. Their equipment is first rate and the guides are very safety conscious. Trips are well organized. Fair amount of humor, but when facing some of the class V+ rapids on the upper Gauley you really want the guide focusing on business and not goofing around. Highly recommend The Rivermen.

Thanks to Rich G.

Adirondac Rafting Company
April 18, 1998

My buddy and I went to the Hudson River Gorge this past weekend. We live in the Phila area and one of have rafted: The New; Gauley; Yough; Shoshone in S. Dakota & the Lehigh. We've both had a "good swim" in the Gauley (yes - in the Fall when they did a release).

For this trip we used Adirondac Rafting Company (not the "River Outfitters")...the guides were excellent; the equipment was excellent; but the weather was too cold.

Call Bob and check them out at 1-800-510-raft.

It's a second year company that only runs a small number of rafts per trip (they have five brand new boats!!).

Pricing was in the range and it was all inclusive. All equipment was coverered including booties, jackets, wet suits, wind breakers, etc. A dinner was also included.

Weak points - very few:
1. no shower facilities unless you stayed at the lodge there;
2. no video (been to ACE on the New and the Gauley - we like a good video);
3. lunch break was only a snack (again - been on ACE so I have bigger expectations).

But where it counted - on the river - they were great.

Thanks to Richard S.

Precision Rafting - Little Sandy, Upper Yough

continued from B B's report above in the Laurel Highlands section.

But Mother Nature had other plans in mind for me. Late that night, or should I say early that morning, I was accompanied by the severe thunderstorms that rolled through. So much for my weekend mountain bike plans. Why not take advantage of this opportunity? I called Laurel Highlands to see if they had any Upper Yough trips planned on Friday since every Friday and Monday are guaranteed dam release days. Unfortunately, they had no trips scheduled. In the rain, I drove up to Friendsville, with the hopes of hooking up with another outfitter’s Friday trip. Heading into Friendsville, one can not miss Precision Rafting right on the bank of the Youghiogheny River. I stopped in to see if they were running the Upper Yough today and had room for one more person. With no commercial trips booked that day, they asked me which river I wanted to do. With all of Mother Nature’s blessings that morning, their brochure’s touted river description, and since the Upper Yough could be run any time as it was dam fed/controlled, I decided to try my luck at the naturally fed Big Sandy Creek in WV. The Lower Big Sandy was a hit or miss, depending on the weather. They were basically organizing a trip just for me, one person, mind you. What other commercial rafting company would set up a trip for a one person walk in? I think all the guides, the river lovers they are, would have kayaked some other lesser known gem in the MD/WV foothills, anyway. Heading into Rockville, the put in for the Lower Big Sandy, we noticed some other kayakers coming out. That was not a good sign. Sure enough, close inspection of the Rockville gauge revealed the Big Sandy was at 7’ 8" and still rising. For the sake of comparison, 5’6" is the recommended minimum level and 6’8" is a fun level. With my safety in mind, they decided not to run the Big Sandy but the Little Sandy instead. Thankfully, I was joined by another raft recruit here.

To be honest, with a name like "Little Sandy", my expectations weren’t too high. What was normally a small creek was now brimming with mud tainted water. Did I forget to mention fast moving, too? To quote John, our guide, we were about to experience "the birth of a river". Fine tuning our strokes through the calm Class II beginning could not prepare us enough for what was about to come. Class II became Class III with ledges and multiple drops and by the time the "Little" Sandy joined the Upper Big Sandy I experienced some of the best, and probably the first, real Class IV water I have ever ridden. On several occasions, John afforded us the opportunity to go surfing in a raft as water gushed right over the nose and right into the 12’ self bailing raft. Another first for me was the chance to do a limbo in a raft as we ducked underneath a 45 degree log leaning against a rock right at the top of a 3 ‘ drop. Even though I felt completely safe with the 3 safety kayaks and a guide in the boat, they decided not to continue onto the Lower Big Sandy section which was now at 7’ 10." Not until now did I fully comprehend what was meant by the "right to switch rivers due to conditions" clause. Since the rivers and creeks were running so fast and high, we finished early in the afternoon. I road my mountain bike up the old railroad bed that parallels the Upper Yough section just to catch a glimpse of the boulder ridden Class V sections about 3 miles up from the Upper Yough take out in Friendsville. It was during this time, unbeknownst to me, my would-be partners tomorrow signed up for a trip on this very river I was awed by.

With my heart set on running the naturally fed Lower Big Sandy at a lower, and safer, level, I stayed overnight at the nearby Mill Run Campground which sits right on the Youghiogheny River Lake, the water source of the Middle and Lower Yough sections. Unlike the previous night, there was some occasional light rain over night; not sleep disturbing though. Grateful for their acceptance of walk-ins, I arrived Saturday morning and met my fellow brave Upper Yough comrades. Because the river was too high and dangerous, Roger , " the man" behind Precision Rafting, asked the power company to HOLD BACK, the release from 11 to 3 PM so we could safely run our trip on Saturday. When we arrived at the Sang Run put in , the river gauge was at 2’ 7"-just below the safe raftable cutoff of 2’9". Again, a calm water beginning followed by a Class III rapid section allowed us to perfect our strokes and synchronization before we tackled the Class V meat. What at first seemed awkward, the foot stirrups and self bailing floors turned out to be a godsend and saved me from many potential swims, both in and out of the raft. Perhaps we , or more appropriately I , got a little too confident as I fell out, knocking in one of my partners too, right at the bottom of National Falls rapid. That reality check was exactly what I needed to face the remaining unwieldy Class V boulder gardens as Bill, our highly experienced guide, incessantly shouted paddle commands to our, now daunted, crew. This was no time for a paddle high five as I was verbally reminded. Somehow, thanks to Bill’s excellent direction, we managed to survive unscathed through the remaining 11 named rapid sections. We also witnessed some fallen trees and damage from a tornado that passed through earlier that month and got a history lesson as well regarding the lumber industry here around the turn of the century. Perhaps the very Cheeseburgers we had waiting for us for lunch were the inspiration behind the Cheeseburger Falls rapid we encountered on the river. Nevertheless, 2 ¾ hours later, we could only look back and laugh at our swim at the now unforgettable National Falls Rapid.

Thanks to Roger, Bill , and the experienced staff at Precision Rafting for making this a safe, highly personal, exciting trip. As I left that afternoon after a warm indoor shower, I said I will see you NEXT time to risk my life and limb again on the Gauley this fall, much to the chagrin of the staff, I am sure. And just maybe, the Lower Big Sandy won’t be quite so "Big".


 CRAB APPLE RAFTING - DEERFIELD

I'm what you would refer to as an avid whitewater rafter, from the Arkansas and Colorado rivers in CO, to the Kennebec and the Dead rivers in Maine I've rafted several. Of all the rivers I've experienced thus far, the one I've gone back to time and again, (6 times so far) is the Monroe Bridge section of the Deerfield River in MA. I've coordinated several groups of friends and everyone has been very pleased with Crab Apple Whitewater. Crab Apples operation is top notch, it is a family run operation and it shows. The Monroe Bridge section is one of the most technical rivers I've experienced. The Monroe Bridge trip is great for new comers to the world of whitewater as well as the experienced. I have done trips in the spring, summer and fall, all were excellent. The fall is especially picturesque due to the foliage, however every season adds it's own beauty. What I enjoy the most is the amount of whitewater and how little flat water there is. I prefer action verses a float trip. As anyone familiar with scuba diving knows the suits are warmest when filled with water. Your body warms the water and it acts as an insulator. So for new comers to the sport if you are cold, get into the river, fill that suit and you'll be warmer in no time. It's a great experience, give it a try and who know you may just get hooked like me! Happy rafting - Donna

  Thanks and a tip of the hat to Donna D.


CLASS VI RAFTING - GAULEY

I came down to raft the Gauley River with Class VI River Runners of Lansing, WV with 17 New Yorkers who have been all over the world, bicycled in France, rented villas in Tuscany, dine at the fanciest places in the big apple - and you know what- each and every one of them have said that this may have been the best weekend they have ever had! We will be back again and again."

Thanks and a tip of the hat to David P.

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