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Difficulty III-IV
Length 9.6 Miles
Gauge Stonycreek River at Ferndale, PA
Flow Range 4.40 - 9.00 FT
Flow Rate as of: 18 minutes ago 3.34 [FT] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 01/14/2018 7:12 pm

River Description

The majority of Shade creek is a fairly scenic and nice class III adventure at low to medium levels. There are a couple rapids that may approach the realm of easy class IV. However, when Shade is booming at high levels, it definitely picks up a notch in difficulty to class IV. Shade Creek is typically fun for everyone. There are three sections to run, the upper, middle, and lower. Each section is obviously separated by a bridge. Shade Creek can be a paddled in combination with Clear or Dark Shade above and the Stony below, for a day of paddling fun.

Upper section: The upper section starts at the confluence of Dark and Clear Shade and ends at the bridge in Hillsboro. This section is roughly 3 miles long and offers some very nice class 3 rapids. This is a very fun section, offering some nice surfing waves and some longer, continuous rapids. On this section, you want to pay particular attention to strainers. Trees are often a problem since it is so small. About a mile into the run, the river channel separates into two channels. This section you definitely want to watch out. Folks typically take the right channel. The creek separates in a couple other spots where strainers may be a hazard.

Middle section: The middle section starts at the Hillsboro bridge and ends at the next bridge on Camp Drive. This section is approximately 2 miles long. This is the easiest section of Shade Creek, but is worth running to avoid a shuttle cluster when running the entire length of Shade. Although the larger rapids are not present, it is still fairly scenic through an isolated gorge.

Lower section: The lower section of Shade is probably the most paddled and offers the best whitewater. This section is approximately 3 miles long, beginning on Camp Drive Bridge and ending on the Rt. 601 bridge in Seanor. This section of Shade can also be run into the Stony, as it enters the Stony 1/4 mile past the Seanor bridge. The first rapid is about 1/4 into the run where the river makes a 90 degree turn to the left. It is a hole and wave train. After this rapid, the river drops over ledge after ledge. Thrown in the middle are more ledges and holes. Did I say the creek is full of ledges and holes? Toward the end of the run is a fairly large rapid. It can probably be considered a class IV. You will know its coming when you start to see dwellings on river left. This rapid, Seanor rapid, is the largest on Shade - it is a combination of curler waves and holes coming from different directions for about 100 yards. Seanor rapid rivals any rapid on the Stony.

The water quality of Shade Creek is not so good. Years of coal mining in the Shade basin has left the creek severely contaminated from acid mine drainage (AMD). Dark Shade particularly contributes to the problem. When Shade is runnable, however, the AMD is somewhat diluted and not particularly noticeable. The Stonycreek-Conemaugh Rivers Improvement Project (SCRIP) is working to remedy the years of coal mining has taken on this stream.

Directions: To run the entire length of Shade Creek, put in at the bridge crossing Clear Shade Creek on Rt. 160 and take out at the Rte. 601 bridge in Seanor. You can run various sections, depending on your schedule.
The Hillboro bridge (i.e., the takeout for the upper section and putin for the middle section) can be found by making a right onto SR 1029 about 2.5 miles north of the putin on Rte. 160. Make your first left and the bridge will be dead ahead, a mile down the hill.
The Camp Drive bridge (i.e., the takeout for the middle section or the putin for the lower section) can be found by driving even further north on Rt. 160 from the putin. About a mile past the SR 1029 turn-off, you will see a hard left turn with a sign for Berkey Church of the Brethren. Take your first right onto this road and follow it to the stop sign. Go left at the stop sign and you'll see Shade Creek crossing under the road. You can see Shade Creek from the stop sign.

See the Benscreek Canoe Club Stonycreek Watershed Page.

For other streams in this watershed, check out:
Stony Canyon (III-IV)
Stony Gorge (IV)
Roaring Fork (IV)
Shade Creek (III-IV)
Paint Creek (V)
Dark Shade Creek (IV-V)
Clear Shade Creek (III)
Conemaugh River (I-II)
Quemahoning Creek (III)

Rapid Descriptions


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Michael Johnson
7 years ago

Ran the Shade today Nov 2, 2012 @ a little better than 6 ft. You could run it lower but not much without scraping bottom a lot. The right channel around the last island on the lower section has a stream wide strainer. If you paddle hard to river left you can just get behind the root ball and catch an eddy at 6 ft. Some in our group paddled over the tree to the right of the root ball, but I would bet on this as the river drops. Go left or be careful.

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Greg Lipps
9 years ago

This is a video of the lower Section.

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12 years ago

We ran the Shade today (all 3 sections). After a couple of days of good rain the Stony Creek was running at 5.5 ft but the Shade was still a bit bony. A nice run - mostly easy class III boogie water with some nice surfing waves and holes. As noted in the description you need to watch for trees/strainers. There was 1 point where the river was split by an island and the right hand side was completely obstructed by a log laying across the channel. Easy boat scout at this level and so we went left. I would like to run this section again but with more water.

Gage Descriptions

The gage is on the Stonycreek, not Shade Creek, and thus must be used as a guide only.  You have to actually look at the Shade as you come in to know whether it is running or not.
Basically, by looking upstream from the Seanor bridge (the takeout), you can get a good feel for what much of the run looks like. For the most part, the rapids and ledges just upstream from the Seanor bridge are typical of what you will encounter on the Shade. If you think you can handle them, go for it. If it looks scrapy here, the whole run is scrapy, especially the upper and middle sections. If it looks booming from the bridge, the whole Shade will be a fun level.

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.

No Accident Reports




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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.

Matt Muir


Tony Allred Jr


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1191453 03/21/09 n/a n/a
1198640 11/11/10 Matt Muir 1-12-2018 - cleanup
1208726 01/14/18 Tony Allred Jr 1-14-2018 - Fixed Broken Link
1208735 01/14/18 Tony Allred Jr 4-2-2018 - small edit/cleanup