For more information, see Keystone Canoeing by Gertler.
This is a run for beginning whitewater paddlers, maybe a bit challenging for open canoes (the old kind, not the ones you see Paddleman running in all the videos). It begins with Ramcat Rapids, which is a good training ground, and ends with Elephant Rock, which can mess up a novice. The law requires that you take out before the bridge in Ohiopyle, so you don't risk inadvertantly going over Ohiopyle Falls.
Other related or nearby streams:Lower Yough (Class III)Casselman (Class I-III)Meadow Run (Class V)Upper Yough (Class IV-V)Top Yough (Class IV-V)
Park at the Ramcat Parking area. This is a common putin, avoiding a mile or two of flatwater.
The first rapid in the river. Usually run down the middle or right side at lower water to avoid rocks. At high water, a wicked hydraulic forms on the river left at the bottom. Not a great place to be.
Mainly a ledge covering the left 2/3 of the river. Easily run right over the middle, if you keep the boat straight. Something has shifted in that hole, as at 2 feet it was surfing a raft and a canoe at the same time, so try to have some speed. The sneak is on the river left near the bank.
You will see several large boulders on the river left. That is Drake Run, a good class-5 creek. The rapid is run right down the middle, avoiding the 2 pinning rocks on the left. Had a canoe taco around one of them once and it took about an hour to get it off. At high water, some good 6+' surfing waves.
About half a mile below an island, The Doldrums begin. You have about 3 miles of flatwater before a couple small rapids.
After a lot of flatwater, and a couple shallow rapids, comes The Haystacks. There are several medium-sized boulders on the right. The sneak line is along the left side, with the main line right through the waves in the middle.
A very large rock right in the middle of the river. Normally run on the right side, through the smaller waves. An interesting route at around 2 feet is to run about 10 feet left of the elephant. At higher levels, you can even right through a little slot about a foot to the left of the Elephant. Good surfing to the left of the rock. The first takeout is about 1/4 mile downstream on the left. Look for the white sign.
The "standard" takeout is just after Elephant Rock, on River Left. Many paddlers keep going to run Z Rapid and take out at the Rte. 381 bridge.
Just upstream of the Rte. 381 bridge is Z Rapid, which curves around on river right as the name indicates. After Z Rapid, don't miss the takeout under the bridge, as Ohiopyle Falls is not far downstream.
Takeout under the Route 381 bridge on river right. Don't miss this takeout, as Ohiopyle Falls is just downstream.
We ran this on Saturday August 5, 2017 @5.5ft on Confluence gauge in LiquidLogic Remix XP9 & XP10. River was moving fast and a few of the rapids had some HUGE, irregular waves which would be a challenge for a beginner. Some of the waves on Drakes, Z rapid, and Cable Car were easily 6'+ waves. I would give these rapids a Class II+ to III- rating easily at this level.
We ran left of the island on Z Rapid. One huge, diagonal curling wave, nearly parallel to the end of the island, almost took us completely vertical. It was pretty intense. We took out on the left side of the bridge @Ohiopyle day use area because at this level there was a pretty big hydraulic under the bridge on river right.
Many of the outfitters will tell you that you are not allowed to paddle Z Rapid which is located further down from the commercial take-out. Commercial take-out is located on river left about 200 yds. past Elephant Rock. However, the law states that you are NOT allowed to paddle past the bike trail bridge in Ohiopyle. There are signs posted clearly on the bridge.
If anyone wants a literal "rip-and-go" guide the PA park service has made one at: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/cs/groups/public/documents/document/dcnr_003519.pdf
Probably gets perty fast about 6 feet or so.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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Paddling Middle Yough
Father and son
Flipper hole 2
Michelle (Mac) Surfing Fast & Clean
Fast and Clean Rapid
Elephant Rock Rapid
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
This past fall American Whitewater met with Ohiopyle State Park managers to discuss possible updates to their whitewater paddling regulations. The first topic was to change the rules governing raft sizes at different water levels to recognize the capabilities of self-bailing rafts. Shorter self-bailing boats will now be allowed to run the river at high water. Some small changes to the regulations will make Ohiopyle Falls more accessible to paddlers. A change in the way the gauge is interpreted should make the falls "legal" on more days. Although whitewater paddlers are only one part of the vast public that visits the park, every effort was made to accommodate them while avoiding user conflicts and safety hazards. Special thanks goes to Ken Bisbee, Ohiopyle State Park Operations Manager and John Hallas, a former Ohiopyle State Park Operations Manager who is now Director of State Parks. Click here to read the updated Ohiopyle River Regulations:
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