Canaseraga Creek - Canaseraga to Dansville

Canaseraga Creek, New York, US


Canaseraga to Dansville

Usual Difficulty IV-V (for normal flows)
Length 8 Miles
Avg. Gradient 52 fpm
Max Gradient 153 fpm

Mill Falls (Class 5)

Mill Falls (Class 5)
Photo by Harry A. Marinakis, M.D.

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-04224775 50 - 200 cfs IV-V 01h04m 46 cfs (too low)

River Description

Updated June 7, 2001

Canaseraga Creek is known by few, but it is one of the finest whitewater creeks in Western New York. It is a seasonal class IV-V creek south of Rochester that drops a whopping 230 feet over 1.5 miles. Most of this altitude loss occurs over a series of nine stair-step waterfalls that range in total height from 10 feet to 40 feet.

The "meat" of Canaseraga Creek occurs in the first 1.5 miles, deep in the Poags Hole canyon. The creek drops 230 feet over a series of nine stair-step waterfall drops.

The creek has a relatively small watershed, meaning that the window of paddling opportunity is also relatively narrow. It floods periodically during the spring, and the highest recorded flood peak was 11,000 cfs on June 22, 1972. Two inexperienced paddlers lost their lives on Canaseraga Creek in separate incidents in 1999 when they washed into strainers.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2012-02-02 08:24:42


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0THE PUTINPutin Photo
0.2SECOND FALLSIV+Waterfall Photo
0.4THIRD FALLSIIIWaterfall Photo
0.9FOURTH FALLS5.0Waterfall Photo
1.0FIFTH FALLSIIIWaterfall Photo
1.2SIXTH FALLSIIIWaterfall Photo
1.3SEVENTH FALLSIV+Waterfall Photo

Rapid Descriptions


Perry Road Bridge

Perry Road Bridge
Photo of Canaseraga Creek by Harry A. Marinakis, M.D.

The putin is located on river left upstream from the Perry Road bridge, approximately 1-1/2 miles northeast of the town of Canaseraga.

FIRST FALLS (Class III, Mile 0.1)
4 feet high

The key to running the first drop is "stay far left." You may scout this falls from the road above the river right bank. The first waterfall drop is a river-wide ledge drop with a powerful recirculation. Boof on far river left into the eddy. This eddy is a good place to collect the group for the next drop, a powerful class IV/V.

SECOND FALLS (Class IV+, Mile 0.2)

Second Thoughts at Second Falls

Second Thoughts at Second Falls
Photo of Canaseraga Creek by Harry A. Marinakis, M.D.

24 feet high

The second fall is actually a series of three 4-foot drops leading into a 13-foot high river-wide vertical drop onto a solid, flat rock slab in very shallow water. Run these drops on far river left, and take the final jarring drop close to the river left bank. Scout from the river right bank.

THIRD FALLS (Class III, Mile 0.4)

Third Falls

Third Falls
Photo of Canaseraga Creek by Harry A. Marinakis, M.D.

6 feet high

The third waterfall drop is located approximately 200 yards beyond the second drop. It is a steep slide into a deep pool. Avoid the recirculation on far river left. You may scout this drop from the river right bank.

FOURTH FALLS (Class 5.0, Mile 0.9)

Mill Falls (Class 5)

Mill Falls (Class 5)
Photo by Harry A. Marinakis, M.D.

35 feet high

This waterfall, also known as the Mill Falls, is a series of stair-step ledge drops and waterfalls adjacent to an old, three story mill that is located about one-half mile downstream from Third Falls.

Scout and/or portage around the Mill Falls on river right. At low water (below stage 1.6 feet) you can portage across easy ledges below the mill. At high water (above stage 1.6 feet), you may need to portage around the top of the mill and then across steep tree-covered ledges just downstream from the mill. Ropes may be required, depending upon your comfort level with hauling a boat across steep terrain.

This stair-step cascade is the most difficult drop on Canaseraga Creek. Run far left all the way down. Alternately, portage on river right immediately in front of the mill.

FIFTH FALLS (Class III, Mile 1.0)

Room of Doom Sieve

Room of Doom Sieve
Photo by Harry A. Marinakis, M.D.

10 feet high

The fifth waterfall drop begins 100 feet downstream from the fourth drop. It is a diagonal, 10-foot high ledge that slopes steeply into a deep pool. Beware of the severe danger of running this waterfall on far river right. Two boulders form a hideous sieve at the bottom of the drop on far river right, a trap nicknamed The Room of Doom.

SIXTH FALLS (Class III, Mile 1.2)

Double Drop of Sixth Falls

Double Drop of Sixth Falls
Photo by Harry A. Marinakis, M.D.

10 feet high

The sixth drop begins about a half-mile downstream from Mill Falls. It is a double drop consisting of 2 ledges. The second drop forms a river-wide recirculation. Run far right over a slide.

SEVENTH FALLS (Class IV+, Mile 1.3)

The Cascades of 7th, 8th & 9th Falls

The Cascades of 7th, 8th & 9th Falls
Photo by Harry A. Marinakis, M.D.

10 feet high

The seventh drop is a vertical waterfall drop onto a solid, flat rock slab in very shallow water. Boof on far river left with some speed.

EIGHTH FALLS (Class IV+, Mile 1.4)
11 feet high

The eighth drop is an 10-foot high vertical waterfall with a drop onto solid, flat rock slabs in very shallow water. Boof far left.

NINTH FALLS (Class III, Mile 1.4)
8 feet high

The ninth drop is an 8-foot high slide over broken ledges into a pool.

THE CANYON (Class III, Mile 1.5)
After the nine waterfalls, the creek drops another 220 feet over the remaining 4.2 miles to the first Poags Hole bridge.

STRAINERS (Class III, Mile 1.6)

Get Out and Portage

Get Out and Portage
Photo by Harry A. Marinakis, M.D.

After the nine waterfalls, be watchful for the dozens of strainers in this remote canyon. Two paddlers drowned in strainers on Canaseraga Creek in 1999.

TAKEOUT (Class III, Mile 5.7)
There are several takeout options in, and south of, Dansville. When traveling south on Poags Hole Road from Dansville, you'll cross Canaseraga Creek 3 times. Set up a shuttle at the bridge of your choice.

First Poags Hole Bridge, at 5.7 miles.

Second Poags Hole Bridge, at 6.7 miles.

Third Poags Hole Bridge, at 7.2 miles.

Dansville, at 7.5 miles.

User Comments

2015-10-02 10:29:38 (59 days ago)
jefflweber (154760)
So we ran this with 850-900 CFS and it was a blast. So I really wonder about the 75-200 CFS being
the runnable levels. I'd say anything over 600 is good to go. The more water the better it will be.
There are some really fun lines all over the creek at this level. I see this creek as three
significant class 4-5 drops. The first we ran right of center all the way down. The mill on the
right was a really tight line and making the way to center was tuff. At higher water I would
suggest staying center or left all the way down. For the final major drop there is a fun line down
the left side. Really drive hard to the left shore and just hold on down the left side. This creek
is extremely fun and way less intimidating than it looks. We took out at the camp grounds just
after the third drop. The folks there are extremely kind. Just ask before you park there.

2006-10-20 08:30:55 (3328 days ago)
Jim HopkinsDetails
USGS Gauge has been inoperative since 2002.
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