Laurel Hill Creek - 2. Whipkey Dam to Humbert Covered Bridge Nr. Ursina

Laurel Hill Creek, Pennsylvania, US


2. Whipkey Dam to Humbert Covered Bridge Nr. Ursina

Usual Difficulty II(III) (varies with level)
Length 10 Miles

Laurel Hill Creek-Whipkey dam to covered bridge

Laurel Hill Creek-Whipkey dam to covered bridge
Photo by Rand McFarland (KHCC) @ 1.9 @ Ursina

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Laurel Hill Creek at Ursina, PA
usgs-03080000 480 - 2999 cfs II(III) 00h53m 161 cfs (too low)

River Description

Lat/Longitude data are approximate, from TopoZone.

Ed Evangelidi shared:

This is a scenery creek. Not only does it have flora and fauna but it is loaded with covered bridges. The rapids have pretenses towards Cl 3 in spots but are all fairly straight-forward. The creek quickly becomes wide enough to shrug off river-wide strainers except for a long stretch in the lower part where the creek braids and braids again. Pick the correct channels and have fun. Pick the wrong channel and you might have to carry around a tree. 

Tony Allred Jr --

A common put-in is on Whipkey Dam Road, below the Whipkey Dam.  Parking is rather limited here, but there is a gravel road on the west side of the bridge which has a wide spot on the river side at the top of the first rise where you can leave a few cars.  The bridge itself and the approaches on Whipkey Dam Road are wide enough to do unloading.  

The river starts out easy with some small ledges to practice eddy turns and peel outs.  The middle part of the run picks up some gradient and there are three (or is it four?) Class 3 rapids at medium and high levels, all on river left turns.  The gradient then flattens out and enters a serpentine section where it braids and braids again (miserable in low water, but very pretty at medium or high levels).  At the bottom of the serpentine section, the braids come together and go under a foot bridge.  This can be a short take-out at a Pennsylvania fish and boat commission access point on river left at the foot bridge.  Or you can continue another couple of miles down to another access at the Humbert Covered Bridge on river left just below the bridge.  

The river is scrapey below 2.2 (roughly 550-570 cfs) through the serpentine section.  Above 2,000 cfs in the middle section, stable eddies to assemble a group after a swim are hard to find.  

Easy with scrapey small channels in serpentine section:  500 - 700 cfs; Low Intermediate:  700 - 1000 cfs; Intermediate:  1000 - 1,500 cfs; High Intermediate:  1,500 - 2,000 cfs; Advanced: above 2,000 cfs.  

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-12-15 12:21:22


Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
February 11 2018 (340 days ago)
drnich (158654)
Ran the lower section today from Kings covered bridge to the walking bridge at the states game
lands. Level was a little over 3ft and just under 2000 Cfs. No major strainers thought we took the
main lines at the braids. At this level there were big wave trains and a few solid class 3s mostly
at left hand turns.
July 26 2017 (540 days ago)
TonyAllred (3101)
USGS manages the gauge, but they already know. If you go to the actual USGS page
(, you'll see that they list "eqp"
malfunction for the gauge. It appears to still be reporting, however, but maybe it got stuck at
1,200 cfs when you were there. It looks like it's sticking as the level goes down -- it seems to be
stuck at 3950 cfs right now (July 23 - 25, 2017). Anyway, when this happens, there is a very short
drive to the Casselman. There appears to be a pattern of "Ursina" getting stuck when the creek has
been high and is dropping. It's possible that the current location of the "Ursina" gauge is one
that picks up a lot of trash in the gauge, which, I'm guessing, is why USGS has created an
auxillary gauge. My guess is that they'll run them together to make sure they track similarly and
then USGS will move the gauge to the new location.
July 25 2017 (541 days ago)
Janice MatthewDetails
Thanks! USGS personnel quickly responded and are working to resolve gauge issue. I received an
email from them Monday morning about this.
July 23 2017 (543 days ago)
Janice MatthewDetails
The reading was not accurate today and the gauge needs to be checked. Who do we call? Today, July
23, the reading said close to 1200 cfs and there was not enough water to even run was very
low. I frequently run this Creek and ran it last Sunday so I know the gauge is seriously off today.
On the bridge, the reading was just below 1.5 today which is NOT 1200 cfs.
May 30 2017 (597 days ago)
mccloud (155404)
Ran Whipkey to covered bridge yesterday at 2,300 cfs. Fast flush. Big waves and holes - consider it
class 3-4 at this high flow. If you are in the boat, OK, but a swim would be bad with rescue
difficult and near certain loss of boat. High risk when the water gets up like this.
April 12 2017 (645 days ago)
John BaltzerDetails
There is a nearly riverwide log pinned broadside to the current about halfway down the reach from
Whipkey Dam to the iron footbridge fishing access. It's pinned at water level against the tall
monolithic boulder I call Tombstone, which is immediately downstream from the heaviest rapid of the
reach, which locals call The Falls, or Double Drop, and which is found just a minute or two
downstream from the mouth of a large beautiful clear creek (on river right) which I believe is
Sandy Run (although another commenter referred to it as Cranberry Run). The log does not quite
extend all the way to the left bank but leaves a very narrow sneak of 5 feet or so (at 600 cfs)
over shallow rocks. However, Tombstone & the log are just below such a sharp left bend that you
can't see 'em till you're well into the rapid. Quite a surprise yesterday with my raft & oar frame.
August 28 2013 (1968 days ago)
GREGG (151434)
There is alot of river wide wood (5-6 strainers) from Trent to Barronvale covered bridge.
March 26 2012 (2488 days ago)
Bruce FleckensteinDetails
Ran from Triple Creek Rd near Trent to State Gamelands Near Ursina on 3/24/12. Level was 3.4 1910
cfs. This fills the top section in nice. There is changing wood on this run. All was passable but
stay alert. There are some choices around islands also. Most of the run is swift water without
features. This limits the amount of bank eddies. There are some rapids with medium waves and a hole
here and there. Two spots are of concern: the first is a horizon line of about 5 ft. You may want
to scout here. I took the flume right of center, carved right, hit shallow rock and swam. Another
in the group took a beating here. There is an easy portage on river right. Get out early to avoid
getting swept into this. The rapid just below is split by a mid stream boulder. There was wood on
the left but looked passable. we took the right. When rounding the boulder, there was a intense
seam of current. This can be avoided by getting back to the middle. There is some squirelly water
below also. Things slowed down around Scottyland and progressively got slower to Whipkey Dam. We
portaged on the left. The lower run was easy for a couple of miles and increased in difficulty.
Waves got big and there was an ocassional monster hole. Lines are pretty obvious. Some of the
heavier rapids are left turns. staying on the inside will avoid getting into the big stuff. After
passing Cranberry Run, work left hard to avoid a good sized hole. There is a heavy set below this
point also. Eventually, things start to settle when leaving the gorge. Choose braids wisely. Most
choices seem to be to the right. Wood is changing here also. We hand to squeeze around a tree in
one spot.
March 8 2012 (2506 days ago)
Bruce FleckensteinDetails
Ran from Whipkey to State Gamelands on 3/4/12. Gauge was 2.1 540 cfs. This is about as low as I
would go. With the exception of a couple spots, good water until the braids. Then, enough if you
make good decisions. Very pretty! Upper needs more water. Ran it pretty high once. Had to stay
alert due to lack of eddies. There are a couple good rapids. First is a 4ft broken out ledge that
can be run right of center. The next is not far below and requires some maneuvering.