Cuyahoga, Ohio, US
|Usual Difficulty||V (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||75 fpm|
|Max Gradient||75 fpm|
|Cuyahoga River at Old Portage OH|
|usgs-04206000||180 - 600 cfs||V||01h15m||107 cfs (too low)|
This stretch can be run up to 800 cfs, but you'd better be walking the dam. Much above 800, there's no sensible putin. Luckily for the prospective paddler, the Lower Gorge (Cuyahoga, Ohio Edison Dam to Peck Road) starts to become bigtime fun at that level.
Ol' Stuey got hisself famous (American Whitewater, 11-12/96--see the article by clicking on "Kayaker Soggy but Safe" along the right-hand edge of this window) by flipping and swimming at the dam. The videotape made the evening news. It's fun to razz ol' Stuey, don't git me wrong, but please be careful when accessing this stretch-o-wattah, because mistakes are very visible.
Photo: this is the kind of insult that the Cuyahoga has had to contend with over the decades. It keeps getting better, but we're a long way from a clean river. Thanks to Harold Marsh of Friends of the Crooked River for this shot.
This stretch of river consists mainly of three distinct drops. The Dam, which is a typical low head structure and very dangerous, can be portaged on the left if the level permits. After the dam work your way left and surf the wave adjacent to the diversion dam which is just below the cantilevered restaurant. Make sure to wave at the diners while surfing this spot! After the wave you drop over a small ledge and follow the main flow toward river right which sets you up for the first waterfall. The lead in to Rookie Drop has a pourover which likes to backender the unwary. As you head down the shallow channel, aim for the roostertail and set up to boof the 8-footer at Rookie Drop. At this point, it is always nice to savor the view of the hotel and the gorge which is no longer like the insult in the above photo. Next up is the last drop known as Staircase. The lead in takes you through a riverwide hole where a flip will make for a very bad day! After the hole, follow the tongue toward river left and stay tight to the wall. Staircase is a 15-foot narrow slide into a hole right above a narrowing of the river. The bottom drops out as you go over the lip, and the water accelerates you down. It's kind of a hoot. Make sure you stay left at the bottom of the drop as the right side is sieved out and contains wood! After you bang you way down the narrow left channel below the Staircase is Ankle Buster, an ender spot which has a rock inconveniently placed. Still, it's one of the few spots in NE Ohoho that'll turn you vert, even in old-school boats...so, you gotta take what you can get. For those interested in seeing a compilation of the 2008 trips, check out the short video www.youtube.com/watch. Here's another nice video from November, 2012.
While your adrenaline is still pumping from dropping ~60 feet in the last 0.13 miles, it's hard to image that you are in Ohio, let alone an urbanized area along the Cuyahoga. Savor this view because few others will experience the same perspective from the water level. Below Ankle Buster, it is just boogie water and 2 small drops before the flatwater. Now if we could only get the downstream Ohio Edison dam removed, paddlers could enjoy another 60 feet of drops over the next 1.3 miles! So while you are paddling the flatwater to the takeout think about the juicy drops below the pool and remember to visit the Friends of the Crooked River website and read about plans for dam removal in the Cuyahoga.
Conservation Organization: check out the Friends of the Crooked River, who've been working on cleaning up the Cuyahoga and educating the public for 20 years.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.1||Welcome to the Jumble||V|
This can be scary at higher levels. Click here to see what I mean. The line is far right, with a good boof stroke. This dam is scheduled for removal in 2013.
This is a fairly easy drop if you are on line. Work around the diversion dam on the left and drop into the main flow below the restaurant cantilevered above. Drive through the pourover and line up for the roostertail (or just to the right) for your boof. The left side of the waterfall base is sticky!
This is the last drop and was called Staircase but there is so much more to respect here! I recommend that after Rookie Drop, paddlers eddy out on the left behind the rocks and scout the last drop as it tends to catch wood and is always changing. This drop can be portaged on the left.
There are 2 lines through Welcome to the Jumble. The left side (Staircase) is run tight to the wall, down the narrow tongue and through the deep hole at the bottom. This route sets you up for the left line through the runout (The Jumble) or you can ferry to the right of the flat rock and take the right line.
The right side (Boof Line) is about 8 feet off the right wall there is usually a small roostertail to aim for which sets you up to launch off the small flake. You need to have speed and a good boof stroke otherwise the backwash may give you a spin or two and swimming through the outwash (The Jumble) could be your last. At the base of the falls and left of the Boof Line is a shallow rock shelf that juts out about 3 feet. After the drop paddlers need to recover quickly and ferry left to line up for either route through The Jumble.
This is the rock jumble at the base of the last drop that is always changing and catching wood. One thing that never seems to change is that is is sieved out and not a place to swim!! It can be portaged on the left along with Welcome to the Jumble.
There are several lines through The Jumble and the left side is easiest as long as you can make the ferry infront of the large flat rock. The left line goes around the large flat rock and spits you out the left side of the deep pool below. Eddy out on the left.
The center line is to the right of the large flat rock and then the paddler can complete the runout either to the immediate left or toward the right and down the base of the cliff. This right side runout line is a blast as long as there is no wood and the sliding boof at the end will put a smile on your face!
This is a view looking upstream at lower flows (250ish). It shows the seived out nature of this rapid and the bottom of the far right line where wood accumulates.