Passage Creek - 2. Elizabeth Furnace to Waterlick (Route 55)

Passage Creek, Virginia, US


2. Elizabeth Furnace to Waterlick (Route 55)

Usual Difficulty II-III (varies with level)
Length 6 Miles
Avg. Gradient 40 fpm
Max Gradient 60 fpm

First rapid

First rapid
Photo by Chris B taken 09/20/04 @ 250cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01635500 200 - 1999 cfs III-IV 01h06m 1330 cfs (running)
Upper limit for best boatability uncertain. Please help your fellow boaters with a comment or report.

River Description

Passage Creek drains a very beautiful and narrow gorge between two spine-like Massannutten Mountains in Virginia. The creek offers a fairly straightforward introduction to running small streams. The rapids are primarily Class II in nature, with two blind rapids that approach Class III.

The run begins with Class I-II and fastwater as you exit leave the day-use area at Elizabeth Furnace. The first major drop occurs at a right hand bend. Scouting is advisable because of the propensity to pick up strainers. (Of course, strainers may be encountered anywhere along this creek.) The rapid occurs where the creek first comes back near the road, narrowing down into a left to right chute. You can scout from a vegetation and tree choked island on river right. Another major drop occurs at the Out Of Sight rapid as the creek veers away from the road again. This is best run by eddying out first on the right and picking a line through the rocky set of drops.

Below the gorge section is a dam backing up water for a nearby fish hatchery. The dam may be runnable on the far left. Scout or portage from small river left trail above the dam. Shortly below here, one can take out at the Fish Hatchery Road bridge for a short run that can be easily repeated.

The rest of the run is Class I-II with some braiding of the stream into small channels around islands. Strainers are almost always lurking in this section in fast current.

Ed Evangelidi warns:
"Use caution at Rte. 55, as many of the landowners there are fed up with boaters. If you park on private property there without permission, you might find that your vehicle has been removed to who knows where. The owner downstream river right is convinced that he owns the river.

By the way, the section from Rte. 55 to the confluence with the N. Fk. Shenandoah is every bit as pleasant as the stretch above Elizabeth Furnace but requires less water to run (-3” at Rte. 55). Use caution below the fish hatchery, where there is a gravel bar on the right and an elbow bend on the left where the water often goes under, around & through large strainers. Use the gravel bar to scout or portage. Below this, look for a small channel that goes left. This side channel is almost always better than the strainer-prone right side main channel.

Ryan Emanual and others, including myself, can also testify:
"When it's open, Christina's Mexican Cantina in Strasburg is a great place for post-run provisions and refreshment."

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-03-23 17:32:05

Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
January 31 2013 (2180 days ago)
Charles DuffyDetails
Ditto on the parking issue ANYWHERE along Route 55. A local cop and a tow truck company are in
cahoots. The tow truck driver says he will tow any vehicle he can see from route 55 parked legally
or not, even on that dirt road on river right. The Strasbourg police know the company well and not
in a favorable way. By the way, the Strasbourg City police are very friendly, professional, and
helpful should you get towed. I plan to take out along the Shenandoah instead. The tow truck driver
said he has even towed from the fish hatchery parking area.
March 2 2012 (2515 days ago)
Mike AronoffDetails
March 1, 2012 ran from E. Furnace down to Buckton at 5.01 on the website gauge and 460 cfs. A great
level that at the lower section offers too many options that can end in strainers. There was one
notable strainer in the bypass channel around the dam that may be a problem at higher flows. A
great fun run at this level though. Mike Aronoff
May 25 2011 (2797 days ago)
John SundaDetails
Several groups have recently reported having their cars towed when parked along Rt 55 at the take
out and nearby gravel road. They advised taking out upstream at the fish hatchery or downstream
where it joins the Shenandoah.
April 18 2011 (2834 days ago)
dougomps (152970)
Ran this on 4/14 @ 800 cfm. It was a great run with minimal blockage. Saw it at 1400 one day
earlier and was too high to safely navigate through the trees. Red hole was a fun drop. You'll know
when you hit it then quickly eddy to river left and look upstream. Someone has written its name on
the rocks. Overall fun for a beginner/intermediate run.
July 10 2009 (3481 days ago)
Philip BennerDetails
this creak is great for beginners and novices i find it to be more of a challenge when water levels
are lower. you can run the creek down to about 60cfm and i have run it as high as 1800cfm. watch
out for strainers. my brothers and I do our best to keep a clean path down the creek but new
strainers pop up all the time. I have only been 4 times this year.
May 21 2009 (3531 days ago)
x (1)
concur with advice to use left channel at the tree blockage (referred to as beaver dam by paddlers
I was with). Looked at left channel, leader in group chose to go right instead, portage was very
difficult and lonnngggg through downed trees and vegetation (good 1/8 mile!); once back in main
flow, could see upstream where left channel came back into main flow, unobstructed after it
rejoined the flow.
April 23 2008 (3924 days ago)
x (1)
Fun 2-3 run at 5 ft on the online gauge. Wouldn't want to do it any lower. 1 mandatory portage due
to major Beaver work. You'll know it when you see it, there's no surprise.
January 11 2008 (4027 days ago)
x (1)
Stop in Waterlick Grocery for a snack, paddling partner, rental or a shuttle, if passage is
running, Gooney usually is as well. Two fun creeks in one day.
April 18 2007 (4295 days ago)
Ken DubelDetails
USGS gauge is online. On 4/17/07 it was 9" on the route 55 bridge, about 4.7' / 290 cfs USGS.