A 167 day old warning about this river was added. Click on comments below to read it.

Esopus Creek - 2) Allaben Portal to Phoenicia

Esopus Creek, New York, US


2) Allaben Portal to Phoenicia

Usual Difficulty II-III (for normal flows)
Length 5.4 Miles

DEC Wave

DEC Wave
Photo by Fantumboater taken 09/15/05 @ 600 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01362500 5.00 - 8.00 ft II-III 00h59m 4.89 ft (too low)

River Description

The portal in Allaben is where water from the Schoharie Reservoir is piped into the Esopus to transport to the Ashokan Reservoir. About 1/2 mile down from this put-in is a left-hand turn with many trees along the right bank. These trees claimed the life of a private tuber and a kayaker in the summer of 2002. They are easily avoidable but one must be aware of this danger.

The tubing companies and most locals put in at the fishing access next to the cemetary that one passes on the way to the portal. Immediately downstream of the cemetery put-in there is a large strainer on river left and, as of September 2015, the river right channel is blocked by two fallen trees. A 14-year-old tuber died after becoming trapped under a strainer here over labor day weekend 2015. The strainers can be avoided via a small boatable channel by the island river center. 

From the cemetary access you get right into the first playspot called "Cartwheel Hole" which is a double squirtline separated by a large boulder in the center of the river. Mystery moves have been gotten here by squirt boaters between 5.5 and 6 ft.

From here it's more of a technical class II+ with some surf-on-the-fly waves and squirt-lines always different depending on levels.
At the junction of the woodland valley stream is the class III "Tenderizer" hole (rarely playable but fun to try), the railroad wave (class II surf), and then Railroad Rapid (III) which is the site of the slalom races held here. Many boaters get out here, about 3 miles down from the portal. The next significant rapids occur as you enter Phoenecia.

After the Phoenecia bridge, the third bridge from the put-in, is Elmer's Bend, a class III+ rapid with many different characteristics depending in the level. If you scout on the fly I recommend going right of the predominant boulder in the center, and then either left to right thru the rock garden or straight thru river right and over a little drop. This drop-route is better at higher levels. There is a take-out a little ways below Elmer's, or continue on to the parking area on Rte. 28 near the Catskill Corners Kaleidoscope. Some boaters, especially canoists, may opt to continue another 5 miles to Boiceville although there are considerably more flat sections.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2015-09-06 18:35:36


Stream team editor

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0No Name
1.0Cemetery Put-InN/APutin
1.0River Left StrainerN/AHazard
4.5Elmer's BendIII+
5.4Anglers' Parking TakeoutN/ATakeout

Rapid Descriptions

No Name
In the fall on 2003 the dep did extensive work at the confluence with woodland valley, redirectin the river away from an eroding bank with a perpetual strainer. As a result, storms which shortly followed removed the popular bridge wave.

Cemetery Put-In (Class N/A, Mile 1.0)

This is an alternative put-in 1mile downstream of the portal with good parking and river access. It avoids some of the dangerous strainers on the early section. 

River Left Strainer (Class N/A, Mile 1.0)

Dangerous pile of logs forms a large strainer on river left after the cemetery put-in. The fastest current sweeps under it. 

Anglers' Parking Takeout (Class N/A, Mile 5.4)

Alternative takeout on Route 40 (Mt-Tremper-Phoenicia Rd) that adds 1mile to the run. There is space for four or five vehicles in the anglers' parking here.

User Comments

2015-09-11 07:16:14 (76 days ago)
Larry (151839)
Paddled from the Allaben Portal to Boiceville today, 5/15/10. The reading was 5.7 on the Coldbrook
guage, this was a nice level with plenty of room to maneuver and lots of good sized waves and
holes. There was a river-wide strainer, just a short distance downstream from the Portal. It is
fairly obvious, and it was easy to get out in time to carry around it. (edit by Steve McLuckie):
This is a very long term strainer. It can be easily missed by the competent but deserves respect.

2015-06-12 11:43:13 (167 days ago)
mshmovie (150511)
This is current as of June 1st, 2015 (reported by Harry at The Town Tinker): ATTENTION: A large
tree has fallen off the bank approximately 1/2 mile below the Esopus Creek access point at the
Shandaken Cemetery. The tree has fallen from the river left side and is blocking 3/4 of the main
stem of the creek. With the scheduled Recreational Release for the coming weekend I wanted to make
everyone aware of the potential danger as soon as possible. I was made aware of the situation this
afternoon from one of our neighbors who lives on Herdman Road and as well as making the Esopus
Creek white water user community aware of the problem I have also notified the Town Of Shandaken
and The Ulster County Water Rescue Team. As well as this strainer there are others at the Cemetery
access point (river left) which were created by the flood of 2005 as well as below it that have
existed since 2014 which also pose a threat.

2012-04-30 11:49:51 (1305 days ago)
baldoam (151663)
Scouted on 4/28/12 That railroad track strainer does indeed look bad. It extends all the way across
the main channel under the Rte 28 bridge. Upstream of it is a tree across the same channel. The
alternative channel looked too bony to even run. Recommend next person going out there consider
bringing a chainsaw to clear up the woody things. An acetylene torch or something like that will be
necessary to deal with the metal. Overall ugly looking run; the parts we scouted looked shallow and
bony. The creekbed has been scoured and flattened out compared with pre-Irene levels, and the banks
are covered high with lots and lots of dead wood.

2012-04-12 08:52:20 (1323 days ago)
brett gehrkeDetails
Paddled the Esopus 4/10/12. The channel has been a couple hundred yards down from the portal. It
now flows in the old right channel (along the railroad tracks) on the west side of island opposite
the graveyard/angler parking put in. There is a tree on the far end of the channel that blocks the
main part of the flow. Beware! Under the route 28 bridge there is a long and nasty piece of
railroad track that runs across the width of the creek. This strainer has some potentially nasty
consequences. There is a possibility of being pinned. There is a slight drop just before that could
force the nose of your kayak under the track. It happened to my partner. His boat went under and he
forced his way over the top. I was just able to get over the top.

2009-04-29 07:47:24 (2402 days ago)
x (1)
There Is a VERY dangerous Sieve in the middle of this run that we ecountered with a group of
cornell students this past weekend. the level was around 5.3 and I believe the sieve would be a
hazard anywhere below 6.0 feet and possibly higher. The sieve is located at the top of the rapid
that takes a sharp bend with the cement culvert on the river left hand bank. It is directly in the
center of the river formed by a visible medium sized block shaped rock that at 5.3 was about 10
inches above water and a diagonal triangular rock that is barely visible. In this case a student
was broached against the block rock and pushed into the sieve bow first resulting in a vertical
pin. Luckily at this level the student was able to hop out of the boat, and the boat was removed
with a vector line but barely. a bad entry angle or more water could certainly result in a very bad
situation and I believe with any more water that a boat would not be removed without mechanical
advantage in the form of a z-drag or piggy-back system. BE CAREFUL! I will post pictures soon.
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