Difficulty II(III)
Length 5 Miles
Gauge Muddy Creek at Castle Fin, PA
Flow Range 125 - 1600 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 4 hours ago 327 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 01/26/2020 7:36 pm

River Description

A surprisingly good whitewater run. It would really be first class if it wasn't for the 1.75 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. 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.
At about a mile into the run is "Snap Falls" (III) - creek wide ledge (Right side, 4 foot drop; Left side, two step 4 foot drop).   At lower levels run "Snap Falls" on river right.  Beginners approximately 10 feet left of large sloping rock.  The current pushes to the right here, so a little left angle is advised.  The corner can also be run here, but this is a harder line, because it has to be run with 45 degree left angle.   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, called "Mumbling Right" (II) generally turns right against the left bank.  At the bottom, 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, called "Gumdrop" AKA "Power Line" (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:  "Triple Drop" (III).   Paddlers running straight through will run to the river right of the center rock, but must hug the river right side of the rock (i.e. stay left) to avoid a flipping/pinning rock on the river right side of the main current.  For players:  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 on the Muddy (0.75 miles) out to the Susquehanna River, where you paddle downstream on the Susquehanna (approximately one additional mile) to the Cold Cabin Park access (for a total flatwater paddle of 1.75 miles).   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.


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 fluctuated.
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.

Rapid Descriptions

Snap Falls

Class - III Mile - 1
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
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
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
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.


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Chuck Slattery
1 year ago

Ran it yesterday 2/18/2018 water was at 230cfs. Most of the run is clean there are some trees that may wash in as the spring water rises mostly after the bottleneck of the gorge. There is still a tree down at the end of the gorge with a smaller heavy limb laying on top of it now. Nothing really to worry about the run right now is clean.

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Oliver Lippy
2 years ago

Ran it today at 150cfs the tree that is normally down just before the gorge looks like it is lower than normal and is a potential strainer. Be certain you can fit under the log if you are going to run it. We chose a portage because it was to low to squeeze under.

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Jason Caggiano
8 years ago

has anyone ever put on at 425?

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8 years ago

I'm hoping to run this weekend any stainers anyone can worn me about?

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8 years ago

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

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8 years ago

Is anyone aware whether or not parking at Paper Mill Rd is ok? I know they used to tow everything there a few years ago, but heard it has changed. Any recent experience?no parking is available on papermill rd anywhere. landowner is very nice respectable farmer and is tired of the littering and vandalism of the area where everybody parks. along with trespassing. its posted for a reason RSP: I have been down there at least 5 times this year so far. Camping over the weekend as well as fishing and boating. We have not been towed. I'm not saying anything has stopped, just saying it hasn't happened. I was there last year 2010 and parked at the bridge. Did not get towed away. But I know in the I past (years ago 5-7 years) WE DID !!!! Brad will run shuttle for you so you dont have to leave a car at the put in. Go to starrk Moon Kayaks and ask him on your way to the takeout

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9 years ago

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

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10 years ago

Call Starkk Moon - they should be able to tell you.

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10 years ago

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 ?

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11 years ago

be weary of parking at papermill rd. they are still towing if you do not park in the few legal spaces.

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Wilmington Trail Club (WT
11 years ago

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, www.wilmingtontrailclub.org, bswain@psre.com

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Mark Kennell
13 years ago

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

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15 years 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....

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Ed Evangelidi
17 years ago

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.

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John Berg
18 years ago

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 inches. DO NOT TRY TO RUN MUDDY FALLS IF YOU ARE NOT VERY COMFORTABLE RUNNING CLASS V WHITEWATER (ie the Upper Gauley). THE SCREW-UP FACTOR IS VERY LARGE AND MANY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN HURT TRYING IT.

Gage Descriptions

Gauge flows are estimates based on a nearby Susquehanna tributary. This section runs a good part of the year.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

Date Flow Result Factor  
1998-05-01 n/a Near Miss/Rescue Other Read More




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Army Corps Study Threatens Lehigh River Boating

Bob Nasdor

Paddlers on the Lehigh River below the Francis E. Walter Dam and Reservoir are concerned that a planned study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its partners, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection will lead to a reduction in whitewater boating opportunities on the Lehigh. The study will evaluate the feasibility of various alternatives to optimize project operation. Aside from the project's authorized primary missions of flood risk management and recreation, the study will also consider water supply and water quality, to identify possible improvements to the existing structure, infrastructure, and operations that will support current and future demands within the region. The Army Corps is holding a public meeting on January 9, 2020 at the Mountain Laurel Resort in White Haven, PA from 6-8 p.m. to explain the study and hear public comments. American Whitewater, Appalachian Mountain Club, and other organizations are expected to file comments with the Army Corps prior to the September 29th deadline in order to share our concerns about the study and potential impacts on boating, the outdoor recreation economy, and the Delaware RIver Basin. We encourage our members to attend the public meeting to voice their concerns.

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Pennsylvania Dam Removal Conference to be Held January 31st.

Kevin Colburn

There will be a one day conference on January 31st in eastern Pennsylvania that will address dam removal and rehabilitation in the state and region. It is likely that this very affordable conference would be helpful to paddlers interested in working on dam removal projects in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Registration for the conference is due by January 23rd.

Tony Allred Jr


Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1214232 01/26/20 Tony Allred Jr updated name
1214234 01/26/20 Tony Allred Jr updated name
1212904 06/15/19 Tony Allred Jr updated description
1207784 06/27/17 Tony Allred Jr 6-27-2017 minor edit to gauge levels
1209045 03/08/18 Tony Allred Jr 4-15-2018 - broke "high runnable" into two ranges to stop early drop to "runnable"
1213667 09/19/19 Tony Allred Jr updated image position
1209861 06/16/18 Tony Allred Jr 6-15-2018 - cleanup
1209860 06/16/18 Tony Allred Jr 6-15-2018 - cleanup
1209863 06/17/18 Tony Allred Jr 6-15-2018 - cleanup
1207829 06/29/17 Tony Allred Jr 6-29-2017 - minor correction to description
1191439 08/30/04 n/a 5-31-2017
1212917 06/16/19 Tony Allred Jr updated description
1212918 06/16/19 Tony Allred Jr updated description
1212920 06/16/19 Tony Allred Jr updated description
1212919 06/16/19 Tony Allred Jr updated description
1207685 06/08/17 Tony Allred Jr 5-31-2017 Castle Fin Gauge level runnable level corrected. Edit to river description to indicate vehicles can't be left at put-in.
1207664 06/06/17 Tony Allred Jr 5-31-2017 Correcting flow levels
1207696 06/08/17 Tony Allred Jr 6-19-2017 Corrected minimum flow
1207830 06/29/17 Tony Allred Jr 7-5-2017 - cleanup
1208958 02/20/18 Tony Allred Jr 2-18-2018 - cleanup
1209965 07/01/18 Tony Allred Jr 6-24-2018 - cleanup
1213666 09/19/19 Tony Allred Jr updated image position