Muddy Creek (Susquehanna trib) - Paper Mill Road to Susquehanna River (Cold Creek Park)

Muddy Creek (Susquehanna trib), Pennsylvania, US


Paper Mill Road to Susquehanna River (Cold Creek Park)

Usual Difficulty II(III) (for normal flows)
Length 5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 15 fpm
Max Gradient 30 fpm

Snap Falls after good rain

Snap Falls after good rain
Photo by Bill Bishard @ Unknown

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Muddy Creek at Castle Fin, PA
usgs-01577500 200 - 10000 cfs II(III) 00h33m 190 cfs (too low)
Codorus Creek near York, PA
usgs-01575500 3.00 - 5.00 ft II(III) 01h03m 2.72 ft (too low)

River Description

A surprisingly good whitewater run. It would really be first class if it wasn't for the 1.5 miles of flatwater on the end created by the Conowingo Dam. Muddy Creek is actually reasonably clear, and flows through a pretty laurel studded gorge that looks like it belongs in the Appalachians.

Put in at the Paper Mill bridge. The river warms up with some riffles for a mile until you come to the first Class III 4 foot ledge drop. After some more action, the river necks sharply. Get over to the right, because you have reached Muddy Falls, a nasty 15 ft or so drop which requires a 100 yard or so portage over rocks. After this, it's a mile or so of pure sugar, as the river drops over ledge after ledge, including some neat multiple ones.

Entering in the flatwater spoils the fun, and now you must make up for it with a 1/2 mile paddle down to the Susquehanna, then a paddle to one of two public water access points located either a mile up or a mile down stream.

For more information, see Keystone Canoeing by Gertler, E.

StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2004-08-30 14:54:28

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
1.0Snap FallsIIIPlayspot
2.0Muddy Falls5.0Hazard Waterfall

Rapid Descriptions

Snap Falls (Class III, Mile 1.0)
Great Class III 4 foot drop that reminds me a lot of the "classic" drop at Bull Falls on the Shenandoah, including a flipping wave to mess up the survivors. Just like Bull Falls, scouting and picture taking can easily be done from the right.

Muddy Falls (Class 5.0, Mile 2.0)
15 foot drop with lots of inconveniently located rocks that break the drop into sections. Run by expert paddlers, it's considered a Class IV if you hit the lines, but has Class V consequences.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
November 6 2011 (1994 days ago)
Cagg1271 (153409)
has anyone ever put on at 425?
September 20 2011 (2041 days ago)
onewetdog (152744)
I'm hoping to run this weekend any stainers anyone can worn me about?
July 16 2011 (2107 days ago)
onewetdog (152744)
as far as i know parking is ok but please be respectful that it is private property try to park all
cars at the take out to keep the number of cars down at put in also a lot of local kids party back
there and leave a lot of trash so if you can pick up a couple pieces it is a beautiful river if we
keep it that way we should not have problems
October 26 2010 (2370 days ago)
rain2020 (152552)
The river wide strainer(before last two rapids) is gone only trees left in the water are lodged in
the rocks directly below the gorge so watch out if you plan on running it, going upside down
through there could be disastrous
June 5 2010 (2513 days ago)
John KemperDetails
There's a brand new river wide strainer on the Muddy after Screaming Left rapid and the next small
rapid with the boof rock but before the last two rapids on the river. Portage is difficult in the
area. We were able to open a small channel through the branches on river right but getting into the
channel and negotiating through the branches is difficult.
October 5 2009 (2757 days ago)
x (1)
Call Starkk Moon - they should be able to tell you.
September 22 2009 (2769 days ago)
x (1)
I am wanting to run this but can't seem to get there when it is running good. What is the minnimum
you can run this at ?
April 21 2009 (2924 days ago)
x (1)
There's a large tree that has fallen into Double Drop (first set of rapids) from river right and
gone across the entire creek. You can navigate under it by running far river right then under the
trunk of the tree after the second small drop, cutting over to the left to exit. Watch out for the
broken branches when you head under the trunk of the tree, they may snag loose gear.
February 15 2009 (2988 days ago)
x (1)
As of May 17,2008:There is a river wide strainer right below the little gorge that's before the
waterfalls on river left above the last rapid. This is now gone, but there are still trees down but
i do not see them causing any big problem until high water pushes them down
September 9 2008 (3147 days ago)
x (1)
be weary of parking at papermill rd. they are still towing if you do not park in the few legal
July 9 2008 (3209 days ago)
bobswain (145783)
As of 3 weeks ago, the river wide strainer mentioned recently has been removed. Members of the
Wilmington Trail Club Paddlers risked life ( and strainer's limbs) to remove. Most of the tree was
removed and placed as high as possible on rocks/bank river right. A section about 10-15 ft in
length sank to the bottom. It was getting dark, so we had to leave it there. As of a week ago, it
was no where to be seen. Bob Swain, Wilmington Trail Club,,
May 17 2008 (3262 days ago)
bobswain (145783)
As the previous person mentioned, as of my last run, May 4th, the log has been disloged from its
original location, but was under water right below the first drop river left, but is not as much of
a hazard.Bob Swain, Wilmington Trail Club.
April 29 2006 (4011 days ago)
Mark KennellDetails
Here is a Description I wrote a few years(1997) ago. Should still be fairly accurate.

Muddy Creek, Lower Section (Lower Susquehanna Water Basin)

Location : Delta, Pennsylvania

Shuttle Information :

Put In :

Option #1- Put In at Paper Mill Bridge on Paper Mill Road(2024) one mile off Route 74. Parking is
available on both sides of the bridge. Paper Mill Road is approximately one half mile north of
where route 74 crosses Muddy Creek.

Option #2- Put In where Route 74 crosses Muddy Creek. Parking is available on the right side of the
road in the southerly direction.

Take Out:

Option #1- Cold Cabin Takeout, Follow Paper Mill Road approximately 2 miles to a four way stop turn
left onto Cold Cabin Road go approximately 2 miles(The road will change from pavement to gravel as
you enter the woods), wave to Moonie as you drive by. Continue on Cold Cabin Road past numerous
cabins. The takeout, Cold Cabin Park, is located directly in front of you as the road begins to
turn to the left. The Susquehanna River is within view. The Park is owned by PECO. Parking is
allowed strictly from dusk to dawn, untimely paddlers will have to deal with the wrath of
Gatekeeper Ray. In all seasons except Winter, PECO provides a Jiffy John.

Option #2- Driving south on Route 74 from York turn left onto route 372 Holtwood Road,. Follow this
road for approximately 2.5 miles to River Road turn right onto River Road. If you are on the Norman
Wood Bridge you went to far. Follow River Road approximately 2 miles to the Pennsylvania Fish
Commission Boat Landing. It's on the left side. Be certain to have registered your boat, if you
plan on launching or landing your boat from the Pennsylvania Fish Commission Boat Landing. As of
about 1996 it was a $ 50 fine.

River Characteristics

Gauges: None

River Classification: I-III (One V, Muddy Creek Gorge) See Description of Creek.

Gradient: 15 Feet Per Mile

River Miles and Approximate Paddling Time:
4.4 miles plus either 0.5 miles or 1 mile of river paddling depending on the takeout location.
1.5 -2 hours from the Paper Mill Bridge put in to the Cold Cabin Park take out, this does not
account for play time.

One Dam(5 Ft), Between Route 74 and Paper Mill Bridge Put In, Muddy Creek Gorge(V; Strainers and
Undercuts) and Strainers

Runnable Months: All year round, except for the driest of summer.

Scenery: Excellent

Water Quality: Excellent

Wildlife: Deer, Blue Heron, Bank Beavers, Trout, Hawks and a variety of other birds.

Description of Creek:

Put in at Route 74 Bridge, carry boats down under bridge. Approximately ј of a mile downstream you
will encounter an old mill dam. The dam is river wide, approximately 5 feet high and is easily
runnable in the middle of the creek.

Paddle under a abandoned concrete bridge.

The next put in(the most popular) is at the Paper Mill bridge. Carry boats down the trail on river
right downstream of bridge to large rock slanting into creek. For the daring, try sliding from bank
into creek.

The first notable rapid, is Double Ledges(II).

Ledge #1(one - two foot drop)- Small surfing wave forms mid-stream at top of rapid. River left eddy
is large, beginners should catch a breathe here. Smaller eddy on river left allows for easier
access to small surf wave.

Ledge #2 (two-three foot drop)- Small side surfing ledge hole forms midstream to river left eddy.
River left eddy is large. Smaller eddy on river right. Easiest to enter side surf hole from river
right, bracing on right side(downstream). The main flow channel downstream of the Ledge #2 allows
for stern squirts from the river left eddy. At higher levels(2 feet above normal) a creek wide surf
wave(4 feet tall) forms.

The next small ledge, I will call Diagonal Ledge(I)- Diagonal Ledge will allow beginners to develop
their surfing skills.

Snap Falls(III) - creek wide ledge(Right side, 5 foot drop: Left side, two step 5 foot drop)

At lower levels run Snap Falls on river right.
Beginners approximately 10 feet left of large sloping rock. Be prepared to brace on left side, and
don't be tempted to put a hand brace on the rock face to the right.
At moderate levels runs can be made river right(must consider at moderate and higher levels a nasty
hole forms against rock face), river left is a straight forward staircase or center if middle rock
is covered.

At higher levels(flood stage), run river left.

Play moves at lower and moderate levels in hole at bottom of river right drop of Snap Falls. Both
stern squirts and front enders and variations into rock splats can be performed.

A campsite exist on river right, that overlooks Snap Falls.

The second smaller drop of Snap Falls is best run by hugging the river right rock bank. Eddy behind
the large rock on river right, and try the fast peelout move across the main flow.

Follow the small ripples to the next significant rapid.

Muddy Creek Gorge(V in my book)

Unfamiliar boaters must pay special attention to the narrowing gorge ahead of them. A large roar of
white water will warn you. I recommend beginners should portage this Class V rapid, because if you
make a mistake you will get spanked! Eddy at least 100 yards upstream of the gorge on river right,
there is a trail that will allow you to portage below the gorge. The trail is not the greatest and
the rocks are slippery.

Any boater attempting the rapid should first land or boat scout. The gorge almost always has
something in it(i.e. trees, rafts). The gorge can be run several different ways depending on water

Low water(summer levels)- Middle rock in gorge is uncovered and water is flowing around both sides.
I prefer the left side. I start at the top of the drop, paddling creek center to left. You will
have to avoid crashing your right side into the middle rock. Pass the rock safely, put a turning
stroke in to turn you right and follow the tongue out. At low levels a roll will likely result in
some scratches to the helmet and some bloody knuckles.

At moderate levels- The middle rock is barely covered. Running the left side will probably push you
into the left side undercuts. The best route is probably to follow the green tongue over the middle
rock and boof through the hole at the bottom.

At high levels- water is being routed down the usually dry right side of the gorge. Runs can be
made on either side. The left side of the gorge is usually a straight flush with no holes, only the
undercut rocks to contend with. The right side is an easier run than the left.

The difficulty of running the gorge is very dependent of the water level, sometimes the higher
levels are easier than the lower level runs. Safety should always be set for boaters attempting the
run. There is always possibilities of broaching, pinning and being sucked under the many undercuts.
Take my word I have seen a few sticky situations here.

If your into sliding of rocks in your kayak the gorge offers two (2) places to launch from. The
highest point to launch would be from the highest point of the large middle rock of the gorge. This
is where you would typically would take a look into the gorge. It drops about 20 feet at about a 70
degree angle. It will take some plastic off your boat.

The second launch point is probably 10 feet up. And is 100 feet downstream of the first launch
point on river right. This one is easier and allows you to boof the surface of the water.

The next rapid is called Screaming Right(II+) and is approximately ј of a mile downstream of the
gorge. This rapid you enter right of center, as you drop over the first small ledge, purchase with
a left Duffeck turning you into the main flow. Catch the river left eddy above the large undercut
rock the blocks the flow on the left side of the creek. At medium levels, you will find small
surfing waves in the middle of the creek. The remainder of the rapid can be run starting from the
river left eddy, peeling out into the main current and working your way to the middle of the creek.
Below the large undercut rock, catch the large river left eddy. This eddy has a powerful upstream
circulation to it and will keep you busy if your trying to rest. From this left eddy you can
execute stern squirts and there is also a neat attainment move that allows you to move slightly
above the large undercut rock, where a small side surfing hole exists.

The next rapid is Screaming Left(III) and is approximately Ѕ mile downstream.
Screaming Left at low levels can be entered between the river right bank and the middle of the
creek. Follow the river right bank through the rapid. If you can catch as many river right bank
eddies as possible. As you continue down this rapid, which slowly bends to the left be prepared for
the large slanting rock at the bottom. At lower levels it is best to avoid the rock by paddling
hard to river left. Catching the river left eddy next to the rock provides easy access to a small
surfing wave. At higher levels it is easy to splat the rock provided it has a pillow on it.

The next rapid has no name that I'm aware of because it is only class II, however it has a cool
splat rock and is a nice play area, above and below the splat rock. Above the splat rock in the
river left eddy, you can do stern squirts into the main flow onto the splat rock. Below the splat
rock is a small surfing wave.

The next rapid, currently has no name (II+)- Two drop ledge rapid, dropping in total 5 feet.
Eddies can be made between the first ledge and the second ledge on both the right and left, the
right being the easier of the two. Peel out into the main flow and eddy after the second ledge drop
on either the right or left. A small hole wave and a trailing diagonal surf wave form off the
second ledge.

As the paddler wanders downstream through the beautiful refreshing gorge, the next item of note is
the waterfall cascading down a channel cut into a rock face. The water fall is probably 25 feet
high and if you paddle under it you'll receive a refreshing shower.

One rapid remains called Triple Drop??(III)

The first ledge drop is approximately one-two feet high and provides a nice river wide side surfing
hole. The surfing wave can be entered from a river left eddy. From the river left eddy ferry across
the creek to the river right eddy to the next and best surfing hole on the creek. This creek wide
surfing hole is steeper than the top surf wave and 360 degree spins can be done at medium water
levels. At low water levels, straight on surfing with sharp cut backs can be carved. Below this the
creek drops another ten feet in approximately four small steps. Each step has its own small surfing

The remaining paddle is flat water out to the Susquehanna River, where you have the option to
paddle either upstream or downstream depending on where you set your shuttle. If you parked at the
Pennsylvania Fish Commission Boat Landing, paddle upstream for approximately 0.5 miles. The paddles
not that difficult because the water is not that swift on this part of the river.

If you parked at Cold Cabin Park paddled approximately 1 mile downstream. A landmark for
determining where the take out parking lot is the last two (2) homes on the river right bank. If
unsure just paddle close to the shore, it only takes longer paddling the perimeter of the

General Notes:

If you plan on boating the river in the winter, be prepared to do a palm portage at the end of the
last rapid on Muddy Creek. The back water from the Susquehanna usually freezes in January or
February, depending on how cold the winter is and how much the Creek and River levels have

If you plan on taking off the Susquehanna River at Cold Cabin Park, near dusk, be prepared to deal
with Ray, the gatekeeper, He will literally lock your vehicle in the Park with little chance for

Also at the Paper Mill Bridge Put In, there has been a lot of vandalism and thefts from cars.
Please lock your car and more importantly do not let valuables in the car. Also most of the time
the locks, will not stop the cowards. My rule of thumb is to either let your friend, who has a car
alarm, park at the put in or get to your car before dark. Most of the vandalism and thefts that I'm
aware of happen at dark.
August 30 2004 (4618 days ago)
To find the put-in: Coming south from Holtwood on Route 74, after about 5 miles look for Paper Mill
Road on the left. Paper Mill rd will be in a major left hand bend in Route 74. Continue down Paper
Mill about 3 miles. First bridge over a stream you come to will be Muddy Creek. To get to the
takeout, continue south on Paper Mill Road. About 2 miles down take a left on Cold Cabin road.
Drive down cold cabin road, passing Starrk Moon kayaks. At the bottom of the road is Cold Cabin
Park. This is the approved takeout, and its about 2 miles down from where Muddy dumps into the
Susquehana. Think Lake Paddle....
July 31 2002 (5379 days ago)
Ed EvangelidiDetails
The old guidebooks talk about putting in at Rte. 74 or just below that. The access below Rte. 74 is
gone due to landowner problems. The 6-foot dam mentioned in the guidebooks is also gone. Rte. 74 is
essentially gone as an option but you can quickly still unload boats here and possibly get harassed
but not arrested by the police. Just do not leave a car here unattended or you will be in trouble.
The section from Rte. 74 to Paper Mill Rd. is very nice and has Cl 1-2 rapids. Speaking of
problems, the preferred takeout is downstream at Cold Cabin even though the upstream takeout on the
Susquehanna has better parking. This is because the police often check for required boating
licenses (from each person) at the upstream takeout and most clubs have at least one paddler along
who may be fined for not having such license.
July 19 2001 (5756 days ago)
John BergDetails
Muddy Creek is an excellent beginner or intermediate run. The river width varies from 20 feet to 50
feet making resue relatively easy. There are a few dangerous spots and one undercut (in the Gorge
section - it is on the left of a narrow drop and can be choked with sticks and small logs). The
water temperature can drop right after a heavy rain in the spring so be prepared. Advanced/Expert
boaters can run the creek at higher levels. Muddy Falls is runnable two ways: either boof over the
center rock (this will put a dent in your boat though) or to the right of the rock by about 6

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