Muddy Creek (Susquehanna trib), Pennsylvania, US
Paper Mill Road to Susquehanna River (Cold Creek Park)
||II(III) (for normal flows)
Snap Falls after good rain
Snap Falls after good rainPhoto by Bill Bishard @ Unknown
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
Put in at the Paper Mill bridge. Be aware that you can't leave a car at the Paper Mill Bridge
put-in. (It will be towed. Stark-Moon outfitters runs a shuttle service so that all the
cars can be at the take-out.)
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 is a small diagonal ledge (I) - This diagonal ledge will allow beginners to
develop their surfing skills.
"Snap Falls" (III) - creek wide ledge(Right side, 4 foot drop: Left side, two step 4
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.
"Muddy Creek Falls" (V) The river necks sharply. Get over to the right, because you
have reached "Muddy Creek Falls", a nasty 15 ft or so drop which requires a 100 yard or
so portage over rocks. A large roar
of white water will warn you. Most paddlers should
portage this Class V rapid, because there are undercuts and other pinning opportunities if
you make a mistake! 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 "Muddy Creek
Falls" should first land or boat scout. The Falls almost always
have something in it (i.e. wood).
Below the falls, there is a gorge which 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 (II-) takes a sharp right turn and is approximately 1/2 of a mile downstream of
the gorge. This rapid you enter right of center, as you
drop over the first small ledge which turns 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 you are 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 approximately 1/2 mile downstream and is called "Screaming Left"
(II+) for the need to make an increasingly strong left turn in the rapid. This
rapid, 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 a river right
bank eddy, you can turn upstream and ferry from
river right to river left. 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, 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, which currently has no name (II+) is a two drop ledge rapid, dropping in
total a few 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.
The next item of note in this beautiful refreshing gorge is a 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 cool shower.
One ledge drop rapid remains (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 wave.
The remaining paddle is flat water out to the Susquehanna River, where you paddle downstream approximately one mile to the Cold Cabin Park access.
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 shoreline.
If you plan on boating the river in the winter, be prepared to do a palm portage at the end of
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
Remember not to leave cars at the Paper Mill Bridge Put In
because they will be towed.
For more information, see Keystone Canoeing by Gertler, E.
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Last Updated: 2018-03-08 21:26:01