Planning a Paddle Trip on
How to Plan a Trip on Middle River
Since Middle River is 100% privately owned, you must get landowner permissions either through people you know who live on the river or by joining the River Access Program.
How many hours or miles do you want to be on the River? What length trip do you want? At normal water levels, a float trip with intermittent paddling which makes a few stops and generally taking it easy might cover two river miles per hour. Fishing trips could be slower. Active paddling could be faster.
Find the put-in and take-out locations available to you that you are interested in on the Middle River Mile Marker Map.
Determine the float distance by subtracting the mile marker at the take-out from the one at the put-in and do the math to determine how much time you might be on the river.
Then take a look at the driving directions that connect your potential put-in to your take-out. Estimate how long you will be driving to set up your shuttle at the beginning and to retrieve your vehicle at the end. The way shuttles work is generally you drive two vehicles to the put-in, drop your boat(s), drive both vehicles to the take-out, park one vehicle then drive back to the put-in to park the second vehicle and launch your trip. Then at the end, you have to drive back and pick up that second vehicle you left at the beginning. Shuttle driving times can really vary based on what your put-in and take-out locations are and can dramatically impact how long your overall outting with be.
Check the online river guages to see if the water level is safe.
Don't forget, you need to get permissions from any landowners whose land you intend to use!
A good way to start planning a trip on Middle River is to become familiar with the highly searchable, detailed Middle River Mile Marker Map available on this website, button to the left. This map makes it possible to imagine trips of any length using potential put-in and take-out mile markers to calculate trip distance. We suggest you download this map onto your computer, it works better that way. You will have the entire Middle River watershed at your fingertips. Since it’s a PDF file, you will be able to zoom in and out as you please.
This map indicates all 71 river miles from where Middle River flows into North River (Mile Marker 0.0) all the way upstream to the headwaters of the river (Mile Marker 71.0). River mile markers may seem counter-intuitive, but they are very handy. As you float downstream, the river mile markers decrease towards zero.
River miles are different than road miles. Parts of Middle River are very serpentine, doubling back on itself. In some places, the put-in and take-out may only be one to two miles apart by road while you will have to boat five to six miles on the river between those same two points.
At normal water levels, a float trip with intermittent paddling and floating making a few stops and generally taking it easy, cover about two river miles per hour. If you want to fish, or plan to tube or swim a lot, it would take more time. If you were to paddle more vigorously for exercise, the trip would take less time.
How High is the Water?
There are two gauge stations run by the United States Geologic Services that measure data about water flow on Middle River and post the data in real-time online for the public.
We have a step-by-step article about how to use the USGS website to find the water levels and even sign up to be emailed about water levels you are interested in. That article is HERE.
The upstream Churchville gauge info is HERE.
The downstream Grottoes gauge info is HERE.
What is a safe water level differs depending on the paddler's skill level. Brown, turbid floodwater waters are not safe for anyone because the risk of high E. coli levels in the water increases. One of our experienced FOMR paddlers indicated that for beginner boaters, Middle River is at its best when the Grottoes gauge is between 2.25 and 5 feet.