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Difficulty III-IV
Length 15.8 Miles
Flow Range 2.00 - 3.00 FT
Flow Rate as of: 1 day ago 0.02 [FT] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 06/09/2016 2:01 pm

River Description

Western New York Area Reaches

Beaver Meadow Creek                     Canadaway Creek (1.)                                      Canadaway Creek (2.) 

Canaseraga Creek                           Cattaraugus Creek                                           Cattaraugus Creek, S. Branch 

Cazenovia Creek, W. Branch (1.)    Cazenovia Creek, W. Branch (2.)                     Chautauqua Creek 

Clear Creek, N. Br.                           Conesus Creek                                              Eighteenmile Creek 

Eighteenmile Creek, S. Br.                Ellicott Creek                                                    Genesee (Letchworth) 

Honeoye Creek                               Keshequa Creek                                            Little Chautauqua Creek 

Murder Creek                                  Niagara                                                             Oak Orchard Creek 

Oatka Creek                                    Rushford Lake Outlet                                       Sugar Creek 

Twentymile Creek


Google Map of New York Whitewater

New York Whitewater Paddlers Facebook Group

Rapid Descriptions

Putnam Road Put in

Class - N/A Mile - 0
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Put in at the dead end of Lyons Road.  There used to be a bridge here.  The best place to put in is to the right of the dead end road.  It's not as steep there.  The small pool after a small Class II ledge is the best place to put in.

Glug De' Dug

Class - III+ Mile - 2.84
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After 1.25 miles of warm-ups and great surfing, it's time to face the first ledge chute.  You know it's coming up when you pass the first shale cliff on the right side on a gradual horseshoe bend to the left.  You will then round a right hand bend and immediately begin to descend through Glug De' Dug.  Watch your elbows if the water is low as it channelizes into an actively erroded chute no wider than 6 feet.  This short ledge drops about 15 feet.  You may want to scout it on the right side to make sure it's free of wood as it is a blind entry.

Harrington Ledge

Class - III+ Mile - 2.9
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Immediately after Glug De' Dug, you come to Harrington Ledge.  This one drops about 15 feet as well and is even shorter.  It is not quite as intense because it is a little wider and doesn't have many features to it.  Pretty much you start bookin' down a 45 degree ledge and try to keep your balance for the hole at the bottom.

Culver Falls

Class - III+ Mile - 5.52
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This is the first waterfall on Chautauqua.  It is a blind entry just before a right hand bend.  You will know it's coming up when you see a cliff on the left side with no vegetation at all.  It only drops about 5 feet but this area can be dangerous if there are strainers due to blind entry and very steep banks that may make it difficult to portage around the wood.

Three Sisters

Class - III+ Mile - 7.56
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After the braided section, you are welcomed into the second gorge by Three Sisters.  They are three water supply dams with very good characteristics despite being man made.  Each consecutive dam gets bigger and the last one is by far the best with an 8 to 10 foot plunge into a deep pool!  Welcome to the second gorge!  Several Class III+ ledges follow over the next several miles.

Gale Warning

Class - III+ Mile - 12.56
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There's a Gale Warning...  please be advised, a 7 foot waterfall may create fun conditions!


A third of a mile from South Gale Road, you face the first rapid after coming out of the second gorge.  Houses appear and the cliffs are not nearly as tall anymore, however the rapids remain for the next couple of miles.  Most of the creek drops over a steep ledge, but the center line is a U shaped freefall line.  It is wide enough that you don't have to worry about your elbows and the hole at the bottom is not that bad for not being a "lip" type of falls.

South Gale Road access

Class - N/A Mile - 12.8
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This is the first access point after Lyons Road.  Park on the right side of the creek in the pull off by the bridge.  You can put in here if you don't have much time and there are a few Class III's still to come.  You can also take out here to shorten the trip from Lyons Road to 11 miles.

North Gale take out

Class - N/A Mile - 15.8
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To my knowledge, this is the last convenient place to take out.  I've never been farther downstream.  From Google Earth, it doesn't look like there are anymore rapids to the lake from here.


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Jonathan Janicki
1 month ago

I will edit the gage soon. They now have CFS for the Westfield gage. 2.00 ft, the minimum level corresponds to 250 CFS.

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Cameron Brown
10 years ago

Peter and I ran this stretch on 12/26/2009 after a very nice X-Mas present of snow/rain to bring everything up. We parked for the take out on river right on S Gale Rd in the fishing access dirt parking lot, and headed up to the putin. The Putnam Rd put-in was all iced over and didn't look like there was nearly enough water, but perhaps with more water (and spring/fall) it would be do-able. We accessed Lyons rd via the Southeast (river right) side and parked at the end of the pavement, walking down the road to access the river. There is no bridge crossing Lyons rd anymore, and we walked over 30 ft of private property to access the river there. We had a decent level and enjoyed the run very much. I would give it a III-IV rating as the RiverMain page says, mostly because of wood. There weren't any rapids that were individually IV but there were many cases of wood, including one portage around a river-wide strainer/log-jam at the end of the "braided section" between the two canyons. I took a picture of the river at the take-out bridge to show the level, so if you can spot some rocks there to compare, that might help. I don't remember what other creeks were running at though.

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10 years ago

Unfortunately the access to the creek via Lyons Road is Private Property, posted No Trespassing, without creek right-of-way.

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11 years ago

If the gauge at is above 0.95 feet then there should be enough water to run this river

Gage Descriptions

There is a brand new gauge on Walnut Creek, PA about 35 miles from Chautauqua Creek.  The gauge is so new that there is not enough information yet to report runnable levels.  It is a little far away and will not be accurate during localized thunderstorm activity and somewhat accurate otherwise.  It should be accurate most of the time except for localized thunderstorm activity.  Generally, the headwaters of Chautauqua get a little more rainfall and snowfall than Walnut.  This is especially true during lake effect events. 

There is also guage on Cattaraugus Creek not too far away that may be helpful.  It is is a little closer but not as useful in my opinion.  Cattaraugus takes long steady rains to bring it up and then may run for a couple of days, where as Chautauqua runs after a heavy rain for a short duration of sometimes a couple of hours.  In other words, Catteraugus is a seasonal stream and Chautauqua is a flash flood stream and therefore responds to rain in a similar manor to Walnut.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports



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Moose River Video

Mark Singleton

2010 marked the 25th anniversary of protecting the Black and Moose rivers!  View an online video documentary on the Moose River and the early role that American Whitewater played in protecting this amazing river.


Alex Barham


Jonathan Janicki


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1206622 06/09/16 Alex Barham gauge min to 2.0 ft
1191077 08/20/08 Jonathan Janicki n/a
1195709 07/29/09 Jonathan Janicki
1195710 07/29/09 Jonathan Janicki
1195711 07/29/09 Jonathan Janicki
1206621 06/09/16 Alex Barham Added local info