East Sandy Creek, Pennsylvania, US
Van to Allegheny River (East Sandy Creek Rapids)
||I-II (for normal flows)
East Sandy surf ledges - KHCC
East Sandy surf ledges - KHCCPhoto by SGZ
East Sandy Creek is a nice class II run through a steep, fairly isolated valley just outside
Franklin, Pennsylvania. The creek runs roughly parallel to the Sandy Creek spur of the S. Justas
rail trail. The Justas trail runs alongside the Allegheny River from Franklin, with the spur trail
running up the East Sandy drainage, ending at route 322 at Van. The 7 mile upper section runs
through an isolated valley adjacent to a state game lands, while the 3.5 mile lower section runs
past some cabins and always has the rail trail nearby
The access at the upper end of the run is where route 322 crosses the creek, at the crossroads
called 'Van'. There is parking just off the road at a dead end, or at the end of the dead end at
the trailhead. The next access downstream is at the SR2013 bridge, also known as the Rockland
bridge. There is parking on the shoulder on the south of the bridge, and easy access to the stream
from either side. The rail trail crosses the creek just upstream from the SR2013 bridge, and
crosses the road just to the north of the creek. Access to the trail from the road is possible from
a small access road just south of the trail, and you can get down to the creek via a pipeline cut
just south of the parking area. The next access downstream is at Mays Mills (aka Deep Hollow Park),
from a road called Mays Mills Road when coming from the south, and Slab Furnace Road when coming
from the north. Deep Hollow Park is not really a park, but a group of cabins, with limited parking
down one of the drives that ends at the rail trail. It's not easy to get to the creek from the
trail here, but you may be able to carry down past one of the cabins (posted to allow walk in
fishing). At the road, access to the stream is limited to river left on the upstream side of the
bridge (difficult), and the only parking is where the rail trail passes under the road 100 yards
south of the creek.
At the end of the run there is allegedly access to the trail and the creek near the mouth from
Astral Road (to the north of the creek). There is also access from the dead end that leads to the
creek from the south: from the Rockland bridge head south & turn on the first road to the right
(sign says "Coal City"). Turn right at four way intersection on East Sandy Road. This road becomes
rough & unmaintained partway down & dead ends at a parking area beside the rail trail, with the
creek down a small trail on the other side. Note that this road is impassable in extreme mud or ice
situations. The other way out involves getting out at the mouth of the creek & carrying up to the
Justas trail, then heading downstream to the 67 stairs that take you up to the rail trail bridge
across the Allegheny. Carry across the bridge to the parking area on the far side. This is over 3/4
mile from the mouth of the creek.
For easy reference the creek is divided into different sections, defined by the road or rail trail
The first section is the nearly 7 miles from Van to SR2013. It starts out slow, with little action
for the first 1-1/2 miles. After this warm up there are several class I-II rapids and about five
that can border on class III. It may be wise to scout some of these since they may collect
strainers and this section isn't paddled often.
The section of the creek from SR2013 to the Deep Hollow Park auto bridge is called the Alien
section. It's a little more constant than the upper creek, with some nice pourovers on river left
after Rockland bridge. This section is mostly shallow, with some easy class II's to surf. Look for
a big painted boulder on river right with a sandy beach opposite - the rapid just after has a river
right sloping ledge that forms a sticky hole at some levels. To get the most out of this one keep
tight to the right and boof the ledge about a yard from the bank. Watch the seam on the left of the
hole - it can flip a boat easily.
Next is the Deep Hollow section, between the auto bridge & the high rail trail bridge before the
tunnel. The best rapids are just downstream of the auto bridge. Just around the curve to the left
is a pool leading to nice class II+ chute along the right. Another 50 yards brings you to the
second class II+, a two part drop that can be run to the left or right of the big midstream
boulder. (To make the most of this one scout the far right line from below. There is a line over
the end pourover all the way to the right.) From this rapid you can see the trail crossing the
creek on a high bridge downstream, and entering the tunnel on river right. You could take out here
and carry up the very steep path on river left downstream side of the bridge to the trail, then
back up the trail to the road, but it is not easy!
From the bridge at the end of the Deep Hollow section to the next rail trail bridge downstream is
the Oxbow section. According to the topo map this is the steepest section of the run, but it lacks
any big well defined rapids. Stay to the left after the last cabin to hit the nice double pourover
(don't swim here - one of these rocks has an old steel eye hook underwater that could snag a pfd).
Just downstream is another river left pourover by a large sloping rock (Lunch Rock). The pourover
just upstream from the rock can be retentive at higher water levels.
The next section down, between the downstream rail trail bridge by the tunnel to the next rail
trail bridge is referred to as the Slot section, because the only interesting rapid is a small
slot. Look for it once the downstream bridge comes into view, against the right bank just
downstream from a sizeable right-center wave.
The next section begins at the rail trail bridge with the small tributary just downstream on river
left and ends at the last rail trail bridge downstream, and is the Braided section. After you pass
a small landslide on river left youÃ¯Â¿Â½ll see a huge logjam ahead. It blocks off the left channel
and keeps most water out of the center channel, so the right side is the way to go. Watch out for
Pyramid Rock at the bottom - trees tend to catch the right side (where most of the current goes),
and at higher levels the current tends to try and jam you right into the rock.
After passing under the next bridge downstream from here the Take-out section begins. Just after
the bridge the creek curves to the left with a rocky cliff on the right - this is the best surf
spot on the creek, and the last decent rapid. There are several creekwide waves, fun from min.
levels up to somewhere above 5.5 feet on the gauge. The upper wave on river left is stickiest at
lower levels, and the bottom wave is the widest.
Take-out on river left just after the island downstream if you parked at the East Sandy Road dead
end. The parking area is about .3 mile area upstream from the mouth of the creek on the Allegheny.
If you parked at the Belmar trailhead take out at the mouth and carry up to the bridge. Don't
paddle across the Allegheny and takeout on river right - these are private lots and not open for
Note that this run starts to wash out as the level climbs. The best runs are at a level not too far
above the minimum. If the water is high enough to wash out the rapids at Deep Hollow Park, try
Pithole Creek north of Franklin (class III), Bear Creek at Bruin (class III), or either South Sandy
or Sandy Creek (class II).
StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2007-03-14 20:33:08