White Oak Creek - Bethel-New Hope Bridge to Georgetown Dam

White Oak Creek, Ohio, US


Bethel-New Hope Bridge to Georgetown Dam (White Oak Valley Road to Georgetown Dam)

Usual Difficulty II-IV (varies with level)
Length 7.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 20 fpm

Put in Falls

Put in Falls
Photo of Bud Chavez by Tom Uhlman taken Dec, 2000 @ 9000 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
White Oak Creek above Georgetown OH
usgs-03238495 800 - 10000 cfs I(II) 00h33m 75.1 cfs (too low)
Likely too low for any real whitewater.

River Description

Normally White Oak has virtually no water in it (less than 20 cfs) as it is not spring fed. However, after a heavy rainfall it can jump to over 10,000 cfs in just a few hours. The next day it could (and often does) drop below the minimum recommended boatable level of 1000 cfs!

The smooth slate sloping bottom allows the water to build up to high speeds during big flows, kicking up NICE waves - a playboater's paradise without having to travel hours away to the "real" whitewater in Tennessee or West Virginia.

At 1000 - 1200 cfs, the creek is doable, but scrapey. Drops are small and obstacles are few. Eddies are well-defined and there are small play features for timid intermediates to work on. This would probably be considered a typical class II.

As the level increases it becomes less welcoming to the uncertain and more fun to the skilled.

Somewhere around 2500 cfs, White Oak approaches class 3 difficulty. The waves become bigger and holes become playable. The eddies become less well defined, but still there. The water becomes swift and swimmers may not get to shore right away.

The optimum level for skilled play is probably around the 2500 to 8000 cfs range. After the creek gets above 10,000 cfs most everything is washed out and you get some HUGE waves. (Think New River over 10ft). It is worth going down because I bet you will never throw bigger wavewheels or kickflips. At this level, the creek could be considered in flood and flood rules should apply - i.e., avoid swimming at all costs, watch for strainers and logs - not just "static" ones against the shore or obstacle, but ones floating down river (wooden paddling buddies). It will be crucial to be familiar with flood river dynamics in general. While technically not more difficult than Class 3, the flood conditions make this run more dangerous.

At higher levels, more daring and skills are required. Debris floating downstream becomes quite dangerous. Swimming is not an option, as trees and shrubs in the swift current will confuse approaches to the shore. Class IV due mainly to the danger factors and advanced flood skills required.

One final thing to remember about levels - a 1000 cfs intermediate trip can quickly turn into a 9000 cfs+ flush if attention isn't paid to weather conditions. Please be aware that the water can rise quickly and can drop just as fast, to a level too low to run. Always keep a close eye on the gauge and be very aware of the weather.

The run description below is based on common names used by most paddlers today. Some "Old Schoolers" may disagree with the names but I will use all names that most people know. This creek changes almost every year. Some new rapids and features have appeared and some have completely disappeared (like Supershelf).

Below are some of the highlights of the run. There are countless catch on the fly waves that are not listed. So keep you eyes open and have fun!

There is a water quality issue. I have no data to support it, but you are in farm country and the water smells more and more every year of cow poop! We strongly advise against drinking the water.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2013-12-25 15:14:54


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Put in WaveIPutin
0.3First HoleIIPlayspot
0.5On the fly wavesN/APlayspot
0.6Slack waterN/AHazard
2.0Bridge Pillar (CAUTION!)N/AHazard
3.0First LedgeII+Hazard Playspot
3.1Heroin holeIII+Playspot Photo
5.0Bridge RapidII+Playspot
6.0Snake PitII
7.5Georgetown DamIVPortage Hazard Playspot Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Put in Wave (Class I)

This was once one of the best waves on the run, but times have changed. The wave seldom gets above a foot and is usually good for little more than a front surf if you work at it.

(NOTE: This is different from the photo of the "Put-in Falls", which is actually on Unity Creek, which flows into this run immediately upstream of the listed put-in. Those looking to start their run with a big bang may wish to check to see if there is sufficient water to run that drop.)

First Hole (Class II, Mile 0.3)

After the put in wave there will be a short slack water section. The creek will make a dogleg leading into the first rapid. Start far left to miss the hole. At one time you could play this hole, but as time has gone by it has gotten more nasty -- best to avoid it. After the hole, work to the center and play the waves below.

On the fly waves (Class N/A, Mile 0.5)

After the first rapid move to the left to catch an on-the-fly wave. Good for front surfing and quick spins. When you are done surfing or get blown off, work back to center for some great waves.

Slack water (Class N/A, Mile 0.6)

Welcome to the flat water! There will be current so you don't have to paddle hard if you don't want to. (Pass the time by perfecting flat water moves.)

Bridge Pillar (CAUTION!) (Class N/A, Mile 2.0)

Around the 2 mile mark there will be an old bridge pillar. At higher water a NASTY whirlpool forms behind it. The left wall is also undercut. It should be easy to avoid trouble here, but could get very interesting (BAD!) if you don't!

First Ledge (Class II+, Mile 3.0)
This is about the best playspot on the river. However it changes depending on the flow.

1000-2000 Small hole, not very powerfull but good for some endless spins. Good eddy on the right.

2000-3500 Big, powerfull hole. At this level you can perform all hole tricks. Eddy is really starting to fade. Walk up right bank.

3500-4500 WOW! Playable, but for real men and women only!

4500-15000 River wide hole, very stickey. Sneek far left.

15000-? Smooths out to nice (and big) wave hole as it starts to wash out. Surfs up!

Heroin hole (Class III+, Mile 3.1)

Heroin hole

Heroin hole
Photo of Bryan Tudor by John Geoppinger taken 10/19/04 @ 7000cfs

This is a newer feature that was first surfed and named by John Geoppinger. He named it so because it is that addictive! At levels of 5000 to 7000 cfs this monster forms just below First ledge. Ever been on the New River Dries? Its here in Ohio. This is the biggest wave hole on the run. It look intimidating, but is really friendly. Jump in and hold on because unless you are use to surfing big water, it will take you for a ride. Exit the hole on the sides. There is an eddy on the left that only the fastest of boats can catch the hole from, but if you are paddling a spud boat, walk up the left bank.

S-Turn (Class II, Mile 4.0)
This rapid use to split in two with most of the flow going to the left. However there has been a large change. There has been a huge deposit of rocks and wood at the enterance to the left side. Now 90% of the flow is diverted to the right. Follow straight down the middle at the top. The creek will then turn to the left into some large standing waves. Good surf on the fly!

Bridge Rapid (Class II+, Mile 5.0)
When you round a bend and see the first bridge you are at the top of this rapid. This is the longest rapid on the run. Start left. At the top there is a hole that will spank you at any level. To miss, just drive hard to the eddy on the left. This eddy is getting harder and harder to catch as there is a powerful curler you have to punch to catch the eddy, and yes, the curler feeds the hole. The hole is getting much worse also. At higher flows, from this eddy you can catch a great steep wave that you can hit big fat blunts on. Once you wash off of this one just read and run the rest of the rapid. At the very bottom, past the bridge, there is some construction material on the far right bank. Low flows it a seive and higher flows it a hole.

Snake Pit (Class II, Mile 6.0)
This is a pourover that is near the end of the run. At lower flows this is one heck of a strong hole (don't ask me how I know). Drive hard left, punch the shoulder of the hole and catch the eddy. At higher flows it breaks into two holes. The right is bad and the left is surfable. After this rapid there has been some construction and has narrowed the stream creating some large waves.

Georgetown Dam (Class IV, Mile 7.5)

White Oak Spill Dam

White Oak Spill Dam
Photo of John Goeppinger by Tom Uhlman

A good portion of this dam has washed out. You may wish to take out above the dam site to look at it and decide about running it.

Below is a GoogleMaps view of the washed out dam.

View Larger Map

A fine sequence of photos of runs of this at high flows is available on Flickr (our thanks, to Doug Elick). Take out downstream on the left bank and walk back up the hill.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
July 25 2016 (904 days ago)
hrlubbers (158107)
Ran on 7/23/16 around 1,000 cfs. S-turn rapid has significantly changed. The bottom section has
widened, resulting in the rapid being less pushy and more shallow. The rapid was much smaller and
easier to run. At 1,000 cfs, there weren't holes at the top of the rapid, just a small wave train.
February 18 2013 (2157 days ago)
Stephen_Stone (155168)
Did this run for the first time just a few weeks ago. Wasn't sure how the new gauge was reading
since the dam had blown out. There was a painted ft. gauge on highway 125 it read just below 3ft
however the gauge was reading right at 12ft. At this level really now good whitewater just some
small ledges but a good level for if you are unfamiliar with creek and wanting to come back when
its running higher.
October 28 2009 (3366 days ago)
Harmon Sizemore IVDetails
I have uploaded video to youtube. www.youtube.com/whiteoakkayak. I will more video as I go.
June 18 2009 (3498 days ago)
x (1)
Ran this the other day (Jun 15) was low running around 500-900cfs. Was a nice run for a newbie.
April 21 2007 (4287 days ago)
Bryan TudorDetails
Was at the takeout dam yesterday at low water and confirmed something that I have had a hunch
about. The dam recently has started to really crumble on the left hand side. I will be getting pics
January 14 2005 (5114 days ago)
Bryan TudorDetails
With all the big rain some features in the rapids have changed, like a new hidden hole in Bridge
Rapid. Lots of strainers. Keep you eyes pealed!
May 11 2003 (5728 days ago)
Bryan TudorDetails
Warning to all! There is a new problem with the run. No it is not on the water but off, THEIFT! I
was out yesterday (May 10th) with a buch of people and when we got to the Gerogetown Dam and walked
back up the the cars, I found my back window busted out and about $800 bucks of backpacking gear
gone! Take care to hide all valuables and if you are going to leave boats down there make sure they
are locked! (luckily I had my Micro on top but I did have it locked to my rack)