Kish Creek is a nice stream for beginners to intermediates. It's close proximity to Lewistown and State College, and it's urban setting make it a favorite "after work" run when the water levels are up.
Compared to other central PA streams, it's a step up from Spring Creek (Bellefonte, PA) and the Little Juniata (Tyrone, PA), and has a couple of steeper and longer drops than the Red Moshannon (Moshannon, PA). It also has some good smaller features for working on ferries, peel outs, eddy turns, and surfing. While the creek can be run at levels well below 4.0', some shallow shoals show up in certain places, so most whitewater boaters look for the gauge to be 4.0' or higher.
Be mindful of high water levels. There is a railroad bridge in Yeagertown that has low clearance at normal runnable levels. Above 6.5', this bridge would be hard to clear. It also tends to collect wood at times.
For the most part the stream is slow with low gradient riffles and waves. From 4.4-5.3 feet, there are some great surf waves. The most notable rapid on this creek is about a 1 mile below the put-in in the middle of Manns Narrows, below old and new US-322 bridges. Manns Narrows rapids stretch for about a quarter mile. Below these rapids, there is a nice pool. On the river right, there is a trail that you can walk up and lap this rapid.
About 3 miles into the trip there is a 5 foot low-head dam. Portaging this is the smart thing to do (an experienced whitewater canoeist died here a few years ago along with some swimmers having a good time). You'll know you're coming up on it when the Standard Steel plant creates a brick wall on river left side of the river, the creek becomes a slow moving pool, you start to see signs hanging over the river, and also the water dissappears behind the even horizion.
Further downstream it's smooth sailing with one last good surf wave at Triple Drop to any desired take out.
Most boaters typically take out at the Kish Pike bridge next to APM True Value. There are a few gravel pull offs on both sides of the road on river right of the bridge. You can also take out at Kish Park, just 0.5 miles upstream on river right.
Each spring in late April or early May, if water levesl cooperate, Manns Narrows plays host to the Kish Creek Slalom Race organized by Mach One Slalom Team. Temporary gates are hung throughout the rapid for racers to navigate.
There are two flat rocks on the left side just after an old railroad bridge. About 4.5 feet this becomes surfable. when the water level gets up around 5 feet it's possible to side-surf. There is also a nice eddy right next to shore that makes it easy to get in and out of.
When going down stream it's a set of rocks w/ a chute along the left side of the stream, along the wall. The chute is nice for pop-ups when the water is around 4 feet or higher. Also the large flat rock creates a nice hole when the water is over 5 feet (like the pictures).
This is a nice rapid to run at almost any level on the creek, but over 5 feet gets a bit chaotic. Over 6 feet a large hole forms in the middle at the end of the rapid. This little fella is formed by an undercut rock. Also, there is a nice wave that forms in the middle of the series around 4.5 feet.
At the bottom, in the middle is a nice rock for practicing boofs.
Thanks to the nice rail to trail on river right, it's pretty common for boaters to lap this rapid 2 or 3 times. Take out on river right at the bottom of the rapid, walk up the river bank, and onto a nice rail trail that will take you back to the beginning of the rapid under the US 322 bridge.
The rail trail also makes it very easy to portage this rapid.
Again, even if the creek is at low or below runnable levels, this rapid is usually still good to go.
When the water level is 4.25 and above this hole kinda sneaks up on ya. There is a bend to the left in the stream, and you'll see a wave w/ a white cap that you can try to catch..but next think you know you're gonna be off the back of that down in the real hole.
This is a low head dam, about 4 or 5 feet tall. There are large bolts holding it together that will rip a boat apart. also a guy died here a few years ago
Just downstream of the Freedom Avenue bridge (the next automobile bridge after Standard Steel dam), there is a nice series of three surf waves.
The top wave is nearly river wide has a very nice laminar wave on river left side, and more of a hole feature on river right. This wave is best right around 4.4' to 4.6'. Catch the eddy on river left for a nice spot to hop on to the wave.
There are two other lower holes/wave features in this rapid, making the second and third drops of triple drop. They are both surfable at various levels, but not quite as good as the upper feature. If you would like to walk back up to surf this wave, do so on river left.
This is yet another take out option. The park is on Electric Avenue in Burnham. You can park right down beside the stream, and it's plain as day when you're on the stream.
Among Lewistown locals, the preferred put in for this section is at Bender Park in Reedsville. From South Main St in Reedsville turn on to East Tony St and go two short blocks past the bus station to Bender Park. You actually put in on Honey Creek but reach the confluence with the West Branch of the Kish in a 1/4 mile. Bender Park has a real, usually empty, parking lot, and if you walk to the upstream end of the park, at a bend in the creek, you get a nice dry slide down the bank into Honey Creek followed immediately by a nice small surf wave to warm up while you wait for the rest of your crew to gear up.
Thanks for removing the wood from the dam. Not that I'd run it, but if someone ends up there, its better to not have a bad situation become even worse.
2 years ago
by Aaron Fleishman
7 years ago
The guage is found on main street in Yeagertown. When heading towards Reedsville from Yeagertown, (Put-in) there will be a bridge and the road will bend to the left. There is a turn off just after the bridge on the right. At the base of the bridge the gauge is found by a old gauge house.
Anywhere between 3.6 and 4.5 feet this is a fun stream for beginners in kayaks and canoes. At 3.6' it can be very rocky in some places. It is runnable up to 6.5 feet. I have run it as high as 7.5 but it was a little crazy for me. At that level some NASTY holes develop. If you want a good thrill you can run Manns Narrows in Yeagertown at about any depth, but SCOUT first. In the middle of the stream there is a hole that forms that has had me for dinner a few times now. One time my boat was in there for over a minute getting worked while I floated down stream. The water pushes you right for this beast so look out.
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.
Joe Young in “Class IV Eddy” and Mark Reed Screaming Down the Train
The Disappearance of Allen Runkle
Depth Gauge at 4.24'
Depth Guage at 4.24'
More fun at Depth Guage rapid
Poppin it up at Pop Rox
Ballfield take out
Backender at Pop Rox
First Drop in Depth Guage Rapid
Depth Guage Rapid
Chute at Guage Rapid
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.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!