Susquehanna River - Holtwood

Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania, US



Usual Difficulty III+ (for normal flows)
Length 2 Miles
Avg. Gradient 5 fpm
Max Gradient 5 fpm

Mark Cecchini & Rob Terry at Playspot 1

Mark Cecchini & Rob Terry at Playspot 1
Photo of Kristen Podolak

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Susquehanna River at Harrisburg, PA
usgs-01570500 6.00 - 12.00 ft III+ 01h17m 4.64 ft (too low)

River Description

Holtwood has a number of different boating options:

You can do some creeking in the fish ladder on river left at the breast of the dam. I must warn you that the river left wall of the fish ladder has holes that are blown out that create sieves. There is a lot of rebar in the Fish Laddeer. I know a few locals that have run it. When there is a lot of water coming through the the fish ladder, the dangers are not as evident. I tell people to look at it first without water before you decide to run it. I typically put in about 1/2 way down the fish ladder, you still get a little creeking before you hit the pumping Susquehanna.

I typically make a circuit of all of the spots listed below, except for Almond Joy. I have listed the circuit in logical order. Please note that this circuit will require long upstream attainments and carry's across islands .

Description of the river right channel

Big Water fun, Class IV

Storm Hole

The Play Spot

Other Squirt lines

Put In

Take Out

the playspot list, low water to high water
Storm Hole 5.5 thru 6.7
Playspot 6.0 to 7.5
Playspot II 7.5 to 10+
Powerline 7.5 and up
Rumble Pit 7.0 to 8.0
Pleaseant Surprise 7.5 to 9.5
Rock-N-Roll Hole (aka Almond Joy) 8.0 to 10.0
Accelerator 10.0 to 12.5
Mama Bear 11+
Beartrap 13.5+

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2008-06-10 21:00:10

Unnamed Holtwood Wave

Detail Trip Report  Unnamed Holtwood Wave  @Susquehanna River Holtwood, PA(323.26KB .jpeg)

Accelerator at Holtwood

Detail Trip Report  Accelerator at Holtwood  @Susquehanna River Holtwood, PA(316.90KB .jpeg)

Storm Hole

Detail Trip Report  Storm Hole   @Susquehanna River Holtwood, PA(281.23KB .jpeg)

Storm Hole Loop

Detail Trip Report  Storm Hole Loop  @Susquehanna River Holtwood, PA(349.76KB .jpeg)


Detail Trip Report  Beartrap  @Susquehanna River Holtwood, PA(357.82KB .jpeg)

Upper Piney Channel - Holtwood

Detail Trip Report  Upper Piney Channel - Holtwood  Susquehanna, PA(2.52MB .jpeg)

Holtwood Dam

Detail Trip Report  Holtwood Dam  Susquehanna, PA(2.97MB .jpeg)


Detail Trip Report  Holtwood   Susquehanna, PA(2.39MB .jpeg)

Holtwood Dam and Downstream

Detail Trip Report  Holtwood Dam and Downstream  Susquehanna River, pa(2.26MB .jpeg)


Detail Trip Report  ksKcG  Susquehanna, PA(561.00B .html)

Mark Cecchini & Rob Terry at Playspot 1

Detail Trip Report  Mark Cecchini & Rob Terry at Playspot 1  Susquehanna River, PA(313.01KB .jpeg)

Steve Graybill below Holtwood Dam

Detail Trip Report  Steve Graybill below Holtwood Dam  Susquehanna River, PA(3.33MB .jpeg)

Joe Stumpfel on Shockwave

Detail Trip Report  Joe Stumpfel on Shockwave  Susquehanna River, PA(3.26MB .jpeg)

Storm Hole

Detail Trip Report  Storm Hole  @Susquehanna River Holtwood, PA(79.14KB .jpeg)

Gauge Information

We have no additional information about how various flows affect runnability (or playability) of this section of river. If you can provide additional information, please either directly contact the StreamTeam member for this reach, or add a 'comment' or a 'report' with your information to help out your fellow boaters.

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Susquehanna River at Harrisburg, PA
usgs-01570500 6.00 - 12.00 ft III+ 01h17m 4.64 ft (too low)

RangeWater LevelDifficultyComment
6.00 -12.00 ft barely runnable-high runnable III+

Report - Reports of Susquehanna River Holtwood and related gauges

Reports give the public a chance to report on river conditions throughout the country as well as log the history of a river.


When River/Gauge Subject Level Reporter
Susquehanna River [PA] Steve Graybill below Holtwood Dam n/a Kristen Podolak
Susquehanna RiverHoltwood [PA] Unnamed Holtwood Wave n/a Kevin Colburn
2y55d21h31m /Susquehanna River-Holtwood [PA] Storm Hole n/a Tony Morrell
9y195d06h17m Susquehanna River [pa] Holtwood Dam and Downstream n/a Kevin Colburn
9y195d06h17m Susquehanna [PA] Upper Piney Channel - Holtwood n/a Kevin Colburn
> 10 years Susquehanna [PA] Storm Hole moderate Jeremy Laucks



User Comments

Users can submit comments.
October 14 2014 (590 days ago)
Any chance someone could do an update here? Supposedly, this has changed a lot with a $4M
whitewater park. A good article on it (with some good photos of action there) is:
The full 'old' guide to it is available at:
January 2 2004 (4528 days ago)
Brad RobertsDetails
Holtwood is best accessed from McCall's Ferry road (River Right). There is a trail leading down to
the river next to the large warning sign (with the Starrk-Moon sticker) under the powerline. Take
the Trail to the left. If you plan on staying above the bridge, simply attain or walk back up the
the put-in. If you head downstream, you'll want to set a shuttle and take out at the Lock 15 area,
reached off of River Rd. (McCall's Ferry Rd downstream of Rt 372.) Park outside of the gate if
you're going to take off after sunset.
Unfortunately, several people have had their cars broken into here (some more than once). It's best
to leave your valuables at home. Most of the time the theifs steal wallets, cell phones, CD's, and
the like, and don't usually go after the smelly boating gear you leave in your car,but to be on the
safe side, if you have an extra boat on your car, make sure it's locked up securely and it's best
not to leave boats unattended when running or walking shuttle. Consider yourself warned.
January 2 2004 (4528 days ago)
Brad RobertsDetails
Re: Give us the holtwood beta... by Bradley Jan 01 2004, 20:44 GMT New
Date: Jan 01 2004, 23:12 GMT
From: rhinoboard

Holtwood is on the Susquahanna River in Southern PA. The good playspots are about 1/4 mile
downstream from the huge dam. Check it out at
November 30 2003 (4561 days ago)
Jeremy LaucksDetails
For the real skinny on Holtwood play, surf over to the constantly evolving Susquehanna Surf Guide
September 30 2003 (4622 days ago)
Brad RobertsDetails
Colby runs Holtwood Dam New
Forum: BoaterTalk
Date: Aug 26 2003, 23:01 GMT
From: loon-moon-soon

Homeboy Colby Mackley comes in from the Olympic Pennisula borrows a boat and heads out and runs the
big dam left of center. Colby was out scouting the dam yesterday and decided it could be done.
Colby said that he dropped off the biggest horizone line ever out on the big river. Some boards
were missing and the water was just below the remaining boards as he got his ass launched into the
air coming off the lip. Cool stuff on the Susquehanna. Not for others. Don't try this at home.
April 18 2002 (5152 days ago)
John BergDetails
Isn't the fish ladder on river right?

Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

Do more than just check gauges; join over 5,000 AW members today.


Join or Renew

Or, consider donating



General Nonmember Message

Associated News

Holtwood Public Meetings Planned for April (PA)
April 8, 2008

New Project Threatens Holtwood Playspots (PA)
March 28, 2006

Agreement in Principle Reached on the Susquehanna (PA)
April 16, 2008

Dam Owner Pulls Plug On Holtwood Expansion (PA)
December 9, 2008

Holtwood Project Back on the Table (PA)
April 13, 2009

Final Holtwood Plan Ready For Federal Approval (PA)
January 3, 2012

Wave Construction at Holtwood (PA) Begins
August 9, 2012

Holtwood Whitewater Park to Open in 2015 (PA)
December 15, 2014

Associated Projects

 Holtwood, Susquehanna River Pennsylvania, US (mobile)