This intermediate run is a stone's throw from the Lower Yough and is often runnable in the winter/spring when the Yough is too high for an intermediate paddler's taste. Depending upon levels, the flow is fast and mostly Class II in difficulty with some rapids approaching Class III starting in the 3-4 foot range and higher. The river is also fairly open, but one can find plenty of slalom play and good surfing throughout the run at medium levels.
The put-in is in Markleton, PA on the river right side upstream from the bridge on the river side from the railroad tracks. There is a nice park on river left downstream from the bridge, which would appear to be a good put-in, but from time to time, someone from the PA Fish & Boat Commission appears to harangue boaters about the PA Fish & Boat Commission sticker ($18.00 fee for 2 years [apparently required at all public PA river accesses, but which only comes up at the Markleton river access]) and threaten a $150.00 fine as a penalty for not having the sticker on the boat. However, (after unloading boats on river right upstream of the bridge) It's not a bad idea to leave cars at the river left downstream from bridge park, so that the parked cars do not come to the attention of the railroad. An alternative is to drive up to the little town of Casselman three miles upstream for a put-in, but you'd have to make friends with one of the riverside property owners there.
Just below the Markleton, PA put-in there are a series of small ledges that can be surfed. A little ways down, not long into the run, the river makes a bend to the left. In this bend, is a large munchy hole --called "Terminator Hole" (Class III-) in the center and center right of the river. The hole is easily avoidable on the left and at most levels there is a more difficult line to the far right. The river continues with a few open Class II rapids.
After a while, the river turns to the left at a huge railroad cut. At low water levels, the river shoals out in the turn and the line is to stay far left -- just left of a small rocky/gravely island. At higher water levels, you can run it anywhere and the island becomes a pour-over to be avoided. The river comes together below the little island and forms a nice surfing wave against a large rock formation ("Lunch Rock") on river right with the old railroad (bike trail) bridge immediately below. Depending upon your timing, this is a potential lunch spot -- river right.
The river continues at Class II until you come to a somewhat blind turn through some rocks, which creates a rapid called "Pinkerton Rocks". At lower and moderate water levels, there are slots center and left that can be run and a shoaly slot on the right, as well (usually Class II+ to Class III-). Above 4' the slots in the center and left are solid class IIIs, and the right slot becomes a sneak route.
A little below "Pinkerton Rocks" there is a rock that looks a little like a turtle shell that sits on the river right end of a ledge running out from the river left shore. This rapid, called "Turtle Claw" has a center right tongue past this ledge and the cautious paddler should stay on the right side of this tongue because there are two offset rocks just beneath the surface on the left side of the tongue that can cause problems. Which is not to say that an aggressive paddler wouldn't be able to boof the turtle shell rock into the eddy behind the ledge, but if the boof is sloppy or missed the downstream rocks can come into play with flipping potential. At certain water levels the usually hidden rocks can become a rooster tail.
The river continues with more open Class II rapids. When you can see the second old railroad (bike trail) bridge, start moving to river left. Enter the next rapid on the left, but move to the center as the tongue picks up speed to avoid a large hole and one or two smaller ones (depending upon the level -- all of which are usually surfable) on far river left.
Right below the second railroad bridge, the river turns left and there is a large eddy and small beach on river left which is a second good lunch spot. Often, there are some nice surfing waves on river right at this location as well. Below this the river continues with some nice open Class II rapids. After a while, you'll see a waterfall (Cucumber Run, I believe) on river left. After the waterfall is another rapid called "Tossed Salad" (Class III) which can be run left or right, but requires hole punching, eddy catching, and maneuvering either way.
The next rapid is on a sweeping left turn and starts with a river wide shoal that can be snuck on a left to center move at low water. As the rapid gathers speed, there are a series of diagonal waves that can be punched or surfed on the fly (no staging eddies).
When you begin to see houses on river left, you know you're almost to the Fort Hill bridge. The usual take-out is the Fort Hill Bridge (river right, just upstream of the bridge). If you choose to float the additional distance to Harnedsville, there is a class II rapid just below the bridge, a few additional class II and class II- rapids for the next three miles, culminating in a Class III- rapid at a waterfall on a creek coming in from river left. The last 1.7 miles to the Listonburg road bridge (PA 523) in Harnedsville consists of flat and moving water around Class I gravel bars and a few islands.
All the roads are accessible from PA 281 and/or PA 523.
Markleton Road off 281, pull off into the park on river left, downstream of the bridge or on river right upstream of the bridge.
Fort Hill Road off 281, pull off into the park on the left (extra parking for large groups is up the hill on the river left side at the first switchback).
Take PA 523 (Listonburg Rd.) which runs from US 40 to PA 281 at Confluence, PA. Continue until the Casselman river bridge on PA 523. On the upstream river left side of the bridge there is a small road that parallels the river on which parking can be found. Or you could park on the river right side of the old railroad (now bike trail) bridge off of Hogback Rd. 0.4 miles upstream from the PA 523 bridge.
Markleton to Ft. Hill is 6.023 miles
Ft. Hill to Harnedsville to 5.759 miles.
A little ways down, not long into the run, the river makes a bend to the left. In this bend, is a large munchy hole --called "Terminator Hole" (Class III-) in the center and center right of the river. The hole is easily avoidable on the left and at most levels there is a more difficult line to the far right.
The rapid begins with a somewhat blind turn through some rocks. At lower and moderate water levels, there are slots center and left that can be run and a shoaly slot on the right, as well (usually Class II+ to Class III-). Above 4' the slots in the center and left are solid class IIIs, and the right slot becomes a sneak route.
This rapid called "Turtle Claw" is just a little below "Pinkerton Rocks". At the top of the rapid there is a rock that looks a little like a turtle shell that sits on the river right end of a ledge running out from the river left shore. There is a center right tongue past this ledge and the cautious paddler should stay on the right side of this tongue because there are two offset rocks (the "Claw") just beneath the surface on the left side of the tongue that can cause problems. Which is not to say that an aggressive paddler wouldn't be able to boof the turtle shell rock into the eddy behind the ledge, but if the boof is sloppy or missed the downstream rocks can come into play with flipping potential. At certain water levels the usually hidden rocks can become a rooster tail.
When the second old railroad (bike trail) bridge becomes visible, start moving to river left. Enter the next rapid on the left, but move to the center as the tongue picks up speed to avoid a large hole and one or two smaller ones (depending upon the level -- all of which are usually surfable) on far river left.
On small creek river left
2018: The river is open, but with a large strainer at river right at the landslide location (approx mile 5.7)
At odd intervals some official type person apparently shows up at Markleton to tell boaters that they can't use the put-in unless they pay the PA Fish & Boat Commission $18.00 fee with a $150.00 fine as a penalty. I wonder if anyone in PA State government talks to each other, or to paddlers, because this method of enforcement sets up a perverse incentive that potentially penalizes trip leaders from doing the right thing by moving up the watershed when water levels get high.
Since 2003 I have tried to spread the idea that the Casselman is a great fallback to the Lower Yough when the water levels are high in the Yough drainage after a hard rain. When a commission official restarts this rumor, it absolutely kills the momentum I've tried to start with Baltimore/DC area paddlers and the Casselman, with the result that Baltimore/DC people don't think of the Casselman in high water situations and in my opinion, the Casselman as a resource is under-utilized.
Supposedly, the reason that the fee system was set up at Ohiopyle in the 1980's, was to spread out start times so the Lower Yough wouldn't get overcrowded. You'd think Ohiopyle park would encourage Casselman paddling, to help alleviate overcrowding, especially at high water. And you'd think that Pennsylvania policies for surrounding rivers would be encouraging to paddlers to find safer and less crowded options in the same watershed as the Lower Yough.
It seems that the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission primarily/exclusively thinks of boating in terms of boating for fishing and fishing access. The Commission does not understand how it puts an additional burden on a trip leader to talk a group out of a ill advised Lower Yough trip to go to the Casselman and then face possibility that someone will walk up to them and raise the issue of additional fees or threaten fines. Contacts between paddlers and the apparent representatives of the Commission have been officious, rude and not considerate of fees paddlers may have already paid to Ohiopyle Park for launch permits not used because in the leader's judgement, the Lower Yough was too high for a particular group on a particular day. The Commission's interactions with whitewater paddlers does not reflect well on the State of Pennsylvania and suggests a lack of welcome to visitors.
The Fort Hill take-out of the Casselman is managed by the Casselman River Watershed Association (http://www.casselmanwatershed.org/) which asks for voluntary contributions to maintain the Fort Hill take-out. It is unfortunate that the Markleton River access is managed by the PA Fish and Boat Commission that seems to know so little about how whitewater boaters arrange trips.
Please consider making contributions to the Casselman River Watershed Association for their work at the Fort Hill take-out and please pressure Pennsylvania policy makers to place the Markleton access under the same management.
Ran this at 5ft and it was more of a class 3-4 river at some points. In some parts there were HUGE holes, comparable to the lower yough at normal flows.
7/9/15 flow was low, 2.7ft or about 900cfs. Quality class 2+ rapids throughout the run. This was the last day of the trip. G, Ct, eli, josh, fab and jesse. Everyone was in an individual craft, some light carnage.
The bridge & approach construction has been completed and the Ft. Hill parking area has been reopened. Checked (May 3, 2014).
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see link for a video of this run..........
2 years ago
by John Baltzer
3 years ago
by James Hunt
The gauge is at the putin, providing a good indicator of flow. 2 feet is low, doable, but very low. Look for 2.25 as an enjoyable minimum. Best levels are between 2.5 and 5 feet.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
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on Casselman @4) Markleton to Harnedsville (Confluence)
Terminator Hole 2
Garrett doing signature grease spin
Cassleman-Markleton to Fort Hill
Ledge on Cassleman
Casselman from railroad/bicycle bridge
3 is not a crowd
Nice class 2-3
Surfin' on the Casselman
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