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 rapids vary from mild to very difficult. 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.

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