Cuyahoga - B. Portage Trail to Front St

Cuyahoga, Ohio, US


B. Portage Trail to Front St (Upper Gorge [Sheraton Section])

Usual Difficulty V (for normal flows)
Length 1 Miles
Avg. Gradient 75 fpm
Max Gradient 75 fpm

Rookie Drop

Rookie Drop
Photo of Brent Laubaugh by Matt Muir (KHCC) taken 03/09/02 @ 475 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Cuyahoga River at Old Portage OH
usgs-04206000 250 - 900 cfs V 01h27m 417 cfs (running)
In addition to the USGS gage, a recently painted (2016) gage is located on the existing structure for the former Sheraton dam.

River Description

Now that the former Mill Dam has been removed, the barrier to this section has been lifted.  This means that the issue with running the dam is no longer but it also means that wood will have a greater chance of moving into the drops below. 

This stretch of river consists mainly of two distinct drops.  After passing through the former the dam, work your way left and surf the wave adjacent to the diversion dam which is just below the cantilevered restaurant.  Make sure to wave at the diners while surfing this spot!  After the wave you drop over a small ledge and follow the main flow toward river right which sets you up for the first waterfall.  The lead in to Rookie Drop has a pourover which likes to backender the unwary.  As you head down the shallow channel, aim for the roostertail and set up to boof the 8-footer at Rookie Drop.  Next up is the last drop known as Staircase.  The lead in takes you through a riverwide hole where a flip will make for a very bad day!  After the hole, follow the tongue toward river left and stay tight to the wall.  Staircase is a 15-foot narrow slide into a hole right above a narrowing of the river. The bottom drops out as you go over the lip, and the water accelerates you down. It's kind of a hoot.  Make sure you stay left at the bottom of the drop as the right side is sieved out and contains wood!  After you bang you way down the narrow left channel below the Staircase is Ankle Buster, an ender spot which has a rock inconveniently placed. Still, it's one of the few spots in NE Ohoho that'll turn you vert, even in old-school, you gotta take what you can get.  For those interested in seeing a compilation of the 2008 trips, check out the short video Here's another nice video from November, 2012.

While your adrenaline is still pumping from dropping ~60 feet in the last 0.13 miles, it's hard to image that you are in Ohio, let alone an urbanized area along the Cuyahoga. Savor this view because few others will experience the same perspective from the water level. Below Ankle Buster, it is just boogie water and 2 small drops before the flatwater. Now if we could only get the downstream Ohio Edison dam removed, paddlers could enjoy another 60 feet of drops over the next 1.3 miles! So while you are paddling the flatwater to the takeout think about the juicy drops below the pool and remember to visit the Friends of the Crooked River website and read about plans for dam removal in the Cuyahoga. 

Other related nearby streams:
Lower Cuyahoga (Class I-II)
Lower Gorge (Class III)
Tinker's Creek (Class IV)

Conservation Organization: check out the Friends of the Crooked River, who've been working on cleaning up the Cuyahoga and educating the public for 20 years.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-09-08 03:11:12


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.1Rookie DropIII+Waterfall Photo
0.1Welcome to the JumbleVWaterfall Photo
0.1The JumbleIV+Hazard Waterfall Photo
0.1The JumbleN/APhoto

Rapid Descriptions

Rookie Drop (Class III+, Mile 0.1)

Boofing Rookie Drop

Boofing Rookie Drop
Photo taken 09/05/12 @ 0 cfs

This is a fairly easy drop if you are on line.  Work around the diversion dam on the left but head right and drop into the main flow below the restaurant cantilevered above.  Drive through the pourover and line up for the roostertail (or just to the right) for your boof.  The left side of the waterfall base is shallow and sticky!

Welcome to the Jumble (Class V, Mile 0.1)

View of the Last Drop

View of the Last Drop
Photo by D. Hill taken 08/20/08 @ 233 cfs AHS gage

This is the last drop and was called Staircase but there is so much more to respect here!  I recommend that after Rookie Drop, paddlers eddy out on the left behind the rocks and scout the last drop as it tends to catch wood and is always changing. This drop can be portaged on the left.

There are 2 lines through Welcome to the Jumble.  The left side (Staircase) is run tight to the wall, down the narrow tongue and through the deep hole at the bottom. This route sets you up for the left line through the runout (The Jumble).

The right side (Boof Line) is about 8 feet off the right wall there is usually a small roostertail to aim for which sets you up to launch off the small flake. You need to have speed and a good boof stroke otherwise the backwash may give you a spin or two and swimming through the outwash (The Jumble) could be your last. At the base of the falls and left of the Boof Line is a shallow rock shelf that juts out about 3 feet. After the drop paddlers need to recover quickly and ferry left to line up for the left route through The Jumble.

The Jumble (Class IV+, Mile 0.1)

Wood in the last drop

Wood in the last drop
Photo by D. Hill taken 09/05/12 @ 0 cfs

This is the rock jumble at the base of the last drop that is always changing and catching wood.  One thing that never seems to change is that is is sieved out and not a place to swim!! It can be portaged on the left along with Welcome to the Jumble.

There are several lines through The Jumble and the left side is easiest as long as you can make the ferry infront of the large flat rock. The left line goes around the large flat rock and spits you out the left side of the deep pool below. Eddy out on the left.

The Jumble (Class N/A, Mile 0.1)

Below The Jumble

Below The Jumble
Photo taken 02/15/12

This is a view looking upstream at lower flows (250ish).  It shows the seived out nature of this rapid and the bottom of the far right line where wood accumulates.

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