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43

USGS has a web map called Streamer that will let you trace a stream or river in the US. If you click on a point on a river, it will highlight every part of the river that's downstream of that point. Or you can choose the "trace upstream" option and it will highlight everything upstream of that point. For example, here's everything upstream of ...


36

It depends and is hard to generalize about. If river volume is seasonal (think late summer in temperate countries, especially with snow-capped mountains or places with a specific rainy season), you could hike on exposed riverbank during periods of low flow. This is the sweet spot and if it works well, it's really beneficial (see fgysin reinstate Monica 's ...


18

On rare occasions it can be easiest to walk in the river. I had this happen to me on a trek in the Rocky Mountains up near Banff / Lake Louise. The valley next to the river was old-growth forest mixed with flooding debris and borderline impassable. After hardly making headway during one morning, and calculating the time it would take us to walk the needed ...


14

It's always risky to be on a river that you have no information about. Apart from waterfalls there could be other dangers such as rapids, rocks under the surface, whirlpools/undercurrents, artificial dams, ... This isn't like in the movies, where the protagonists float down a calm river on a flimsy boat until they see from afar the misty cloud of a waterfall....


12

In addition mostly to @csk's answer, there are maps that give the direction of rivers, e.g. OpenTopomap For most parts of the world, this information is redundant at the first glance since you can see the overall (larger) shape of the valleys in the map and follow the valley until it is clear whether you go upriver or downriver, but there are some ...


10

The answer is often to not use Google maps, and this is no exception. If you want an online source, Openstreetmap.org can help - the cycling layer shows contours so you can use the methods in another answer, but if you're at a PC and select "Edit" the default editor shows arrows pointing downstream. As cbeleites unhappy with SX says in another ...


9

No. Not reliably. But you only need to be wrong once. Depending on how abrupt the drop is, you may only see a horizon line, with no white caps from rapids below. If there is enough wind to put riffles on the water, you may not notice it. An abrupt drop will have all the noise hidden below the horizon, so sound will be substantially attenuated. Factors ...


6

Of course you should research your rivers beforehand, and have a decent idea of where the major hazards are, but even assuming you've done so and are expecting them, it's still necessary to detect the hazards as you approach, and this is something covered in the kayak leader training I've done (I know also canoe leader training is similar, and would expect ...


5

The main reason for the peak flow to happen at a certain time is that the meltwater pulse takes that amount of time to propagate. If the peak Hoh River flow 40 miles from the source happens at 09:00, one could assume the the flow matches the 4mph that you observed, or that peak melt happens around noon the day before. At 4mph, then the melt pulse at the ...


2

You can usually notice the noise. And if the river is loud, then be triple careful. But generally, it's not important what you notice, but what you don't notice. Can you see water 100m in front of you? Great, than you know, if the next 100 meters are safe. But you have no idea if the 101 meter is still safe. Your security margin is as far as you can see. ...


2

It's going to be slow, with a lot of rowing. Looking at the prevailing winds, to get an estimate of how much the wind will be on your side, it's not good news. In June, at Greenville Airport the wind is more likely to be against you than on your side, as you head broadly north upstream. This is true for the majority of reporting stations on the prevailing ...


2

The head of navigation is entirely subjective. It depends on the type and the size of boats, which have different requirements. The river Thames in UK, for example, has several locations that limit navigation. London Bridge was the traditional limit for tall ships due to their mast height Richmond lock marks another limit, restricting the width of vessels ...


1

It is the motorboat. Definitiely Draft Any sailing vessel needs a mechanism to withstand sideways drift and heel. A yacht with an ordinary fixed keel will require at minimum 1.5-2m of depth but we are not limited to this. Draft is not only a problem in rivers but also in tidal areas so people have been creative by developing sailboats with retractable keels, ...


1

It is usually much easier to climb up a steep hill, than climb down again. Then you fall and die. It is usually much easier to eel your way into a tight spot than out again. You get stuck, you die. Similarly, it is much easier to enter a river, than to swim back to shore and climb out of it. You drown and die. Stop. Think. Observe. Pull Out. OR Pursue. Do ...


1

As other answers have said, you need a map which shows contour lines. From seeing which end of the river is higher, you can work out which way it's flowing. Google Maps does do this, but it's not very user friendly. First, turn on "Terrain" from the "layers". This will show you a shaded map giving a rough clue to the shape of the ...


1

As others said it's hard to generalize about. One can ask why you want to hike faster. If you're looking for help of human beings then walking near a river is probably a good idea. There are some chances that you'll meet someone before you reach your planned destination,less chances to get lost and you'll be more easily spotted than in a deep forest.


1

On the plus side: the river may be below its maximum, and have exposed dirt/rocks/pebbles there may be less of whatever big trees/thick vegetation exist nearby but that don't like to be quite by the water On the minus side: there may be thick vegetation that likes water, which there isn't nearby following the river is inherently longer than following a ...


1

Along the unregulated river, in the natural landscape, where the dominating formation is the forest? Usually it will be much worse. First of all, expect the vegetation to be much more dense. Second, natural rivers are not like regulated channels, they are wide, have many branches / gulfs going deep into the land. Expect a lot of wading, often through mud. ...


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