Letchworth State Park boasts a spectacular, meandering 550-foot deep river gorge lined with slate cliffs. It is called the "Grand Canyon of the East."
Within the gorge, the Genesee River is class II run at low levels (9.0 feet) but becomes a respectable class III river with great surfing opportunities at higher water (stage 10.5 feet). The Genesee River is consistently at its highest during March and April. The river periodically floods between October and June. The highest recorded flood peak was 90,000 cfs on June 23, 1979. The river is closed to kayakers at stage 14.0 feet and higher. Every October, the draining of Rushford Lake augments river flow through Letchworth Gorge by about 1.0 foot.Logistics:
Sign the release and get a Waiver # at the Admin center near the South end of park. Get a map at the gate when you pay your $6 park Entry Fee so you can find everything.
Sometime around 2015, the road to access the put in was washed out. The new put in is on the east side of the river.
Take Out: St Helena parking lot. From the visitors center turn right out of parking lot on park road (3.4 miles) Turn right at the second sign for St. Helenas and go to parking lot (0.2miles). Take out is down the gated restricted access road, river left (0.45 miles)
From check in office, Turn right out of parking lot on park road (0.75 miles)
Turn left onto Denton corners Rd and exit park at castile exit (2.1 miles), Turn left on 19A (2.1 miles), Turn left on 436 (1.4 miles), Turn left of east parade Rd (3.0miles), At cross roads (42.60124, -78.00288) there is a porta-john and a gated road to the left. Park there and walk 0.5 miles to the put in which is on river right.
(Put in was at Lee's Landing, a 1/2-mile carry downhill from the parking lot east of the swimming pool/Letchworth Outfitters (Raft Co.) Look for a gate across the grassy area north of parking lot near the CCC statue. Follow the dirt road to the bottom of the hill. Right to Lee's Landing, Left at the bottom, then Right in 300 yards to Red Ball.)
If you run the Loop, no shuttle is necessary. The carry back uphill is about 1/2 mile from either Red Ball (airplane/helicopter warnings on power lines) or Lunch Rocks (the next rapid below Red Ball).
If you pass Lunch Rocks you are committed to about 5 miles of Canyon to St. Helena's. This is the last takeout before the dam. Go with somebody that knows how to find it. In early Spring, there may be a lake backed up above there from the dam--not likely to be a worthwhile trip. Stick to the Loop in those conditions.
REPORT THAT YOU ARE OFF THE RIVER IN PERSON OR BY PHONE USING YOUR WAIVER # TO ADMIN CENTER. INSTRUCTIONS ARE ON YOUR WAIVER. DON'T FORGET UNLESS YOU WANT THE PARK POLICE SEARCHING FOR YOU.
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
Hoppy's post on the FLOW Massage Board)
Google Map of New York Whitewater
New York Whitewater Paddlers Facebook Group
Class 2 @ 9ft
Class 3+ @ 13ft
Closed @ 14ft
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Lower Falls, Letchworth Gorge
Surfing Lunch Rock Rapid
Adrian and Dave Sun Soaking
Surfing at the Sluice
Last Wave/Hole, before the "Loop" take-out
Above the Normal Put-In
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
Paddlers on the Lehigh River below the Francis E. Walter Dam and Reservoir are concerned that a planned study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its partners, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection will lead to a reduction in whitewater boating opportunities on the Lehigh. The study will evaluate the feasibility of various alternatives to optimize project operation. Aside from the project's authorized primary missions of flood risk management and recreation, the study will also consider water supply and water quality, to identify possible improvements to the existing structure, infrastructure, and operations that will support current and future demands within the region. The Army Corps is holding a public meeting on January 9, 2020 at the Mountain Laurel Resort in White Haven, PA from 6-8 p.m. to explain the study and hear public comments. American Whitewater, Appalachian Mountain Club, and other organizations are expected to file comments with the Army Corps prior to the September 29th deadline in order to share our concerns about the study and potential impacts on boating, the outdoor recreation economy, and the Delaware RIver Basin. We encourage our members to attend the public meeting to voice their concerns.
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.
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