Lehigh - 2. Rockport to Glen Onoko


Lehigh, Pennsylvania, US

Disclaimer

2. Rockport to Glen Onoko (Lower)

Usual Difficulty II-III (for normal flows)
Length 12.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 30 fpm
Max Gradient 30 fpm

Entrance 1


Entrance 1
Photo of Entrance 1

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Lehigh R bl Francis E Walter Res nr White Haven PA
usgs-01447800 450 - 10000 cfs II-III 00h28m 272 cfs (too low)


River Description

Longer and more scenic than the upper section, it has more challenging rapids, but more flat water.
Related web sites: ab257's Lehigh Page  Lehigh River Water Trail 
The weekend releases are posted Fridays at:
Army Corps and reservoir levels can be found at: Francis Walter Dam

This section is a 12 mile run from Rockport to Jim Thorpe (or you can use the Glen Onoko take out which cuts out 2 miles of mostly flatwater and Class II down to Thorpe).

A bike trail follows the river along an old railroad bed from Glen Onoko to White Haven as part of the state park, with bike rentals available locally. The river is administered by the PA Dept of Conservation and Natural Resources. There is a steep trail starting at the parking area at Glen Onoko that goes up to the top of a multi level water fall. The park administers access to the river as well as the bike trail. The eastern shore of the upper section borders Hickory Run state park, with some hiking trails down to the river. The whole White Haven to Thorpe area has a long history of coal mining and tourism. Water levels are dependent on the releases from the Francis Walters dam, operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, planned weekend releases are usually announced on Wednesday and updated on Friday.

There is usually enough water for regular releases in the spring, thru the end of May. The Army Corps has modified the access road to the dam to allow the level to be raised during the spring, storing water for summer releases (approximately every other weekend). The release is usually shut off at 1pm on Saturday and Sunday. These releases are sometimes canceled due to prolonged dry spells.


StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2007-03-28 06:05:57

Editors


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0RockportPutin Photo
0.2EntranceIIIPlayspot Photo
0.7PinballII+Photo
1.8Eye of NeedleIIIPlayspot Photo
2.5Dragon LadyII+Photo
2.9Stuckies (aka Pain in the A--)II+Photo
3.7White FallsIIIPhoto
4.0Three Quarter Mile LongIIIPlayspot Photo
5.1Little FallsIIIPlayspot Photo
6.0Straight ShotIIPhoto
6.7Penn HavenIIIPhoto
7.5Hurry LeftII+Photo
7.8Hurry RightII+Photo
8.5RattlerIIPhoto
9.5OxbowIIIPlayspot Photo
10.7Sea of RocksII+Photo
11.6TowerIIIPlayspot Photo
12.6Up Against ItIIPhoto
12.7Glen OnokoTakeout Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Rockport

Rockport Map

Rockport Map

Put-In - You can drop off or pick up boats at the bottom of the hill, but must park in the State Park's parking lots at the top of the hill.

Entrance (Class III, Mile 0.2)

Entrance Map

Entrance Map
Photo of Entrance Map

ust below Rockport there is a large eddy on the left. Just below the eddy is a squirt eddy line off the right bank. Run to the right of the island below the eddy. A small glassy surfing wave is in the center at the start of the rapid. Follow the main current down the center of the river. At high water, the island can also be run to the left.
Photo 1
Satellite Photo 1

Pinball (Class II+, Mile 0.7)

Pinball Map

Pinball Map
Photo of Pinball Map

The river bends to the right, and the main current piles up on a large rock just off the left shore. You can eddy hop down the rapid along the left shore, with some nice eddy fences to punch. You can also run a slot to the left of pinball rock, but the best waves are to the right. The whole rapid can be snuck by staying to the right side of the current.
Photo 1
Satellite Photo 1

Eye of Needle (Class III, Mile 1.8)

Eye of the Needle Map

Eye of the Needle Map
Photo of Eye of the Needle Map

A large rock at center right divides the current, with a smaller rock to its right. Approach the rock from the right side (avoiding a ledge sticking out from the right shore) and thread in between the two rocks. Eddy out behind either of the rocks. The rapid can be snuck to the left of the rock for the wimps among us. Below the two rocks, in the center of the river, is Amy's Hole, which can get very sticky at levels above 1000 cfs (actually Amy's is the second rock/hole below the eye). Named after Amy Yuan(?), former adventurous (or gullible) Challengers guide (really, it a great surf in there - go for it).
Photo 1
Photo 2
Satellite Photo 1
Satellite Photo 2

Dragon Lady (Class II+, Mile 2.5)

Dragon Lady Map

Dragon Lady Map
Photo of Dragon Lady Map

Drake's Creek enters from the left near the start of the rapid (also a put-in for Pocono Whitewater and an emergency egress from the river). A large ledge juts out from the left hand shore below the creek with eddys below and above. Follow the main current just to the right of the ledge for some nice waves.
Photo 1
Satellite Photo 1

Stuckies (aka Pain in the A--) (Class II+, Mile 2.9)

Pain Map

Pain Map
Photo of Pain Map

So called because of an abundance of little rocks at low water (also called Stuckies). Enter rapid to right of large rock in the center of the river and then follow the current to the left as it goes down thru a small rock garden. At higher water you can enter to the left of the rock and avoid some of the rocks.
Satellite Photo 1

White Falls (Class III, Mile 3.7)

White Falls Map

White Falls Map
Photo of White Falls Map

After some riffles and a large eddy along the right shore you enter White Falls (or Little Falls, or White Chairs because of some chairs along the river bank when rafting was first starting). Pass just to the left of a pinning rock in right center. Cut behind the rock down to a washed over ledge running diagonally across the river. Pick out a clean looking slot, and shoot on thru. The right side above the ledge is rocky and shallow. Just above the island at the start of the next rapid (Mile Long) is a rock (exposed at 400 cfs) with some raft ripping metal sticking out of it.
Photo 1
Satellite Photo 1

Three Quarter Mile Long (Class III, Mile 4.0)

Mile Long Map

Mile Long Map
Photo of Mile Long Map

Not quite a mile long, but still the longest rapid on the river (other than perhaps Sea of Rocks, which at low water seems twice as long). Avoiding a piece of metal just above the island, run to the right for a narrow twisty passage, or to the left for a senic view of an old boxcar left over from a train derailment. Below the island is a long rock garden type rapid. At 1000 cfs or above check out two side surfing hydraulics on the middle left side. Below this work your way gradually to the right until you reach a surfing/pop-up wave/hole near a pyramid rock on the right shore. Continue on down and eddy out on the left before Little Swimmers. Watch out for a metal beam sticking out from the right shore at the top of the eddy, and for submerged metal on the bottom/left of the eddy.
Photo 1
Photo 2
Satellite Photo 1

Little Falls (Class III, Mile 5.1)

Little Falls Map

Little Falls Map
Photo of Little Falls Map

The second most challenging rapid (after Tower) Little Swimmers (or Bridal Veil) starts to the right of the island below the pool (watch out for submerged metal at the bottom left of the eddy). Avoid (or surf) a hydraulic coming out from the right shore, and stay in the center through some big waves coming at you from all directions. Below these waves is a short stretch of calmer water with a pinning rock dead center. Cut behind this rock and go through a chute in a gap between two large rock ledges (Little Swimmers). The rapid gets much less pushy below this. Pick your way through the rocks, but don't get caught going down a shallow channel to the right of a low island. In flood conditions the two rock ledges become a set of raft flipping monster holes called Chiller and Thriller.
Photo 1
Satellite Photo 1

Straight Shot (Class II, Mile 6.0)

Straight Shot Map

Straight Shot Map
Photo of Straight Shot Map

The river is narrowed by an island on the right. Go straight down the middle of the channel through some nice waves. Work your way to the right at the bottom. You can have an early lunch on the rocks at the bottom of the island, or at a beach on the right shore.
Satellite Photo 1

Penn Haven (Class III, Mile 6.7)

Penn Haven Map

Penn Haven Map
Photo of Penn Haven Map

Former site of a small railroad junction town, the Lehigh makes a left turn, and the current goes past a high rock retaining wall on the right. A flipping rock juts out from the wall, with a nice eddy behind it and a surfing wave alongside the eddy. Across from the rock is a nice lunch spot on the left shore. Below is a railroad bridge and Quakake Creek coming in from the right side. At high water the two bridge piers are placed perfectly for pinning and wrapping unwary rafts. Black Creek to Quakake to the Lehigh is a nice Class III creek run from Weatherly after a heavy rain.
Satellite Photo 1

Hurry Left (Class II+, Mile 7.5)

Hurry Left Map

Hurry Left Map
Photo of Hurry Left Map

Similar in character but larger than P in the A rapid. Start Hurry Left (or Double Barrel rapid) to the right of a small island in low water and follow current to the left. Avoid numerous rocks as you work your way towards the left side. Some nice eddy hopping if you feel energetic. Avoid the right side unless you enjoy dragging your raft off of rocks. At higher water, you can run to the left of the island for a cleaner shot over to the left side.
Satellite Photo 1

Hurry Right (Class II+, Mile 7.8)

Hurry Right Map

Hurry Right Map
Photo of Hurry Right Map taken 11/02/10

After Hurry Left, the river gradually bends to the right. A horizon line indicates a long ledge coming out from the left shore. There is a clean chute on the right side, leading into a small wave/hole. Right below this are some lunch stops for rafting companies (a good place to avoid), and a mile or so of flat water (with occasional head winds) up to Rattler and then to Bear Creek.
Photo 1
Satellite Photo 1

Rattler (Class II, Mile 8.5)

Rattler Map

Rattler Map
Photo of Rattler Map

Only memorable because it relieves a little of the boredom from the flatwater in this stretch. The river bends gradually to the right, with shallows on the right side, and the majority of the current along the left bank. About half way down there is a rock about 3 foot from the left shore. Go to the right of it, there is no way a raft will fit between the rock and the shore (believe me, a lot of people have tried).
Satellite Photo 1

Oxbow (Class III, Mile 9.5)

Oxbow Map

Oxbow Map
Photo of Oxbow Map

At the deepest part of the Lehigh Gorge, the river makes a large oxbow bend. Bear Creek comes in from the left into a large calm area at the top of the rapid. Enter from the right side (just to the left of some rocks). The current will carry you to the center as the river bends to the right. As you come around the bend there is a large rock ledge sticking out from the left shore with 45 minute (thats how long it takes to get your raft off of it) rock ready to grab you if you get too far left. Just below in the main current is a wave/hole that at the right level can give kayakers a bouncy surf for a couple of seconds. A long stretch of Class II follows with a few holes in the center. Along the left is a sheer rock wall with some nice waves along it. The last wave in this stretch has an eddy next to it along the wall, and will give you pop-ups if the level is not too low. As you come around the left bend below this section there will be a beach on the left, and a pipeline running overhead. One of the first oil pipelines from the central PA oil fields, now used for natural gas, it gives the rapid its other name - Pipeline.
Photo 1
Photo 2
Satellite Photo 1

Sea of Rocks (Class II+, Mile 10.7)

Sea of Rocks Map

Sea of Rocks Map
Photo of Sea of Rocks Map

Rocks, rocks, rocks. A long rapid with a lot of maneuvering if you don't want to get hung up. Start in the middle down thru some waves and small holes past a small ledge. Start working you way over to the right. When a small island is not to far away, either work your way over to the far right down to Iron Ring Eddy, or head over the the left side of the island for a run thru a narrow channel. Then kiss the pyramid shape rock as you go past it towards the eddy. Above the island on the middle right side is a table sized rock with two smaller rocks in front of it. In a kayak you can run right at the rock, bounce off the pillows of all three rocks, and scrape past the right side of the rock. Named Chabot's Slot after a former WWC guide and hair boater, now lost to the wilds of the Great White North (eh?).
Photo 1
Satellite Photo 1

Tower (Class III, Mile 11.6)

Tower Rapid Map

Tower Rapid Map
Photo of Tower Rapid Map

Tower (named for a small railroad tower on the right bank - also called Snaggletooth) is the best the Lehigh has to offer. A long technical rapid with a lot of rocks and waves, it just gets better with more water. Not a place to be out of your boat, though. From Iron Ring Eddy head immediately to the center of the river (or better yet, skip the eddy) to avoid a set of pinning rocks on the right side. Cut back right, behind the rocks and pick your way down to a river wide rocky ledge/drop. Run it through slots on far right or in the center. Once past the ledge, enjoy the bouncy waves until it mellows out a little. Then you will see Battleship Rock slightly to the right of the current. At under 1000 cfs, it is the worst (or best) pinning spot on the river (my personal record is 3 rafts wrapped one on top of each other). Go left of the rock, and down through some small holes and rocks. After this stretch you can relax, all thats left are some easy drops.
Photo 1
Photo 2
Satellite Photo 1

Up Against It (Class II, Mile 12.6)

Up Against It Map

Up Against It Map
Photo of Up Against It Map

Just across from the takeout at Glen Onoko, the river makes a sweeping right hand turn. The current piles up against a steep rock cliff, and the rafts pile up against a knob sticking out of the cliff. If two rafts get stuck at the same time, the second usually flips - providing a lot of amusement for spectators. If you are continuing downstream, watch out for the bridge piers at high water. Otherwise, you can get some squirts off the eddy line there. Glen Onoko has become a popular place, with a lot of bicyclists along the old railroad bed and hikers going up to the falls. This section of the river down to Jim Thorpe can be run down to 250 cfs, if you don't mind a short day on the river. Glen Onoko can be reached by car from the east side of Jim Thorpe - take Main Street north until you see tha park entrance sign. Parking, restroom, and change facilities are available thanks to the park service.
Photo 1
Satellite Photo 1

Glen Onoko

Glen Onoko Takeout Road Map

Glen Onoko Takeout Road Map
Photo of Glen Onoko Takeout Road Map

Take Out. Can continue downstream about 2 miles and take out in the town of Jim Thorpe's parking lot on the river side of the railroad tracks.
Photo 1


User Comments

Users can submit comments.
June 2 2016 (84 days ago)
garygentile (156090)
A detailed description of the entire Lehigh River can be found in the "Lehigh River Paddling
Guide," which can be purchased online at http://www.ggentile.com/nonfiction_books.html. Scroll down
to the appropriate title.
November 5 2009 (2485 days ago)
bizzah2o (151200)
paddled this section on oct. 25th, sunday, and i believe level was about 1000cfs. i felt that some
of the rapids should be considered class lll-. the last couple miles, the rapids are rather long,
not really dangerous, but long. A swim would not be fun.
August 21 2006 (3657 days ago)
x (1)
Even at a 750 cfs release, there are several class 3 rapids on this section. there are eddies
enough to catch, but if you are inexperienced, the stretch from white falls through bridal veil /
barn door would be difficult.

suggest altering some river maps as the floods in June 06 have altered some of the main lines in
white falls.
June 12 2006 (3727 days ago)
Philip DawsonDetails
After paddling again at 1200 cfs, I think the official description of Class III applies
perfectly:

Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open
canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges
are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. Strong eddies
and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. scouting is
advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare; self-rescue is usually easy
but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end
of this difficulty range are designated "Class III-" or "Class III+" respectively.
February 1 2005 (4223 days ago)
Robert HallDetails
Brad you need to come back when the levels are higher this is where the class 3 rating comes in. I
have paddled the Lehigh since I was 12 and there is class 3, but the lower yough is way better.
Remember the rating is setup for the range of suggested levels so at 1150cfs it might seem like
class 2, however this same rapid at 8000cfs is another story!
August 29 2004 (4378 days ago)
BradRDetails
Hey Art,went back and did the run at 1150 cfs.....still not a class 3 rapid anywhere on the river.
Nothing anywhere to compare with Cucumber,Nanty Falls or Zoar gap. Pretty, fun, long, but nothing
but class 2.
June 28 2004 (4441 days ago)
Arthur BalajthyDetails
Re Brad's comment - have to disagree that this section of the Lehigh is a 2 - It is easier than the
Yough, but I'd still class some of the rapids as easy III.
June 28 2004 (4441 days ago)
BradRDetails
Fun and Scenic. At 900 cfs its all Class 2. Not a class 3 rapid to be found, however some of the
wave trains and boulder gardens are very long. A swim would suck. A great run for a beginner in
good shape. Much easier than the lower yough.


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Events

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September 2013

S M T W T F S
1
Lehigh River Release
11:08 am -11:08 am est
Additional Releases based on high inflows. 650cfs plus inflow up to 850

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Events
Lehigh River Release White Haven,PA runs 05/10/08 - 09/01/13
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