Slippery Rock Creek - 2. Eckert's Bridge to Harris Bridge (Mountville Rd, SR 2030)


Slippery Rock Creek, Pennsylvania, US

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2. Eckert's Bridge to Harris Bridge (Mountville Rd, SR 2030) (Lower Slippery Rock)

Usual Difficulty II (for normal flows)
Length 3.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 20 fpm
Max Gradient 25 fpm

Pillow rapid


Pillow rapid
Photo of Steve Zerefos by M. Zerefos (KHCC)

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Slippery Rock Creek at Wurtemburg, PA
usgs-03106500 400 - 5000 cfs II 61h30m 255 cfs (too low)
Consider 130 cfs absolute minimum, with about 400 cfs the minimum for a fun run.


River Description

Directions: From the north take I-80 to route 60 south. Follow route 60 till it exits to become a toll road - continue straight on what is now route 422. Follow 422 past where it becomes a two lane road, across route 388, till you see the sign for McConnell's Mill State Park. Turn to the right into the park. Continue straight and turn to the right just past the Kildoo parking area, then left in a couple of yards (see sign pointing to Eckert bridge). Follow road to stop sign and turn right. Follow road down past parking area to Breakneck bridge parking area, and turn to the right through gap in guardrail. Follow rough, steep road down to Eckert bridge. To get to take-out go back up past Breakneck bridge. Pass road on left and another 200 yds to turn on gravel road on right. Follow to stop sign and make sharp right. Follow to stop sign and turn left. Follow road to first intersection and turn right (Mountville Road). Follow road down into the valley - park on far side of Harris bridge.

Lower Slippery Rock Creek, from Eckert bridge to Harris bridge on Mountville Road, is a step down in difficulty from the rapids in upper Slippery Rock Creek or the Mile. Beginner and intermediate kayakers often use this section to develop their skills. At levels below 150 cfs it will be too low to paddle without walking the boat through the shallows. From 200 cfs to around 400 cfs it is an ideal run for beginners to get an introduction to whitewater with very little hazard. Between 400 cfs and around 1000 cfs this section is a great run for intermediate level paddlers, with some decent rapids as well as some nice surf spots. From 1000 cfs to around 1600 cfs the creek starts to have a big water feel without having too many hazards, and is still good for intermediates. Above 1600 cfs the creek starts to get more difficult and hazards start to become more pronounced.

The run starts with a couple of mild boulder garden rapids just below Eckert bridge. The rapid at Cheeseman Run in particular is a great beginners training spot between 250 and 450 cfs, with over 2 dozen moves (eddy cuts, ferries, surf spots) to practice. Start with the small surf wave against the right bank and you can work your way back and forth across the creek until you get to the next pool.

The first real rapid is not far below the first good sized pool. As you approach you can see the creek cut to the left over a line of rocks, then cut back right and head downstream between a bunch of huge boulders. The easy line is to take the wide tongue of water left of center and then head downstream between the boulders to the next pool. Up to about 900 cfs there is a nice slot directly to the right of the main tongue, defined by a rounded boulder on the left and the line of rocks on the right.

After the big pool comes the second hardest rapid on the run, Pillow. You can scout this from river right. The upper part of the rapid can be run on the far right near the bank above 500 cfs or so, but the main line is just left of center. Here some mid-river boulders funnel the creek through a chute about 10 feet wide, with a two foot drop. Below 400 cfs approach this chute on the left and keep left as you make the drop – there’s a barely covered rock in the center of the approach and another on the right side at the bottom. After running the chute you can eddy out on the left behind the huge boulder, or continue straight into the bottom part of the rapid. Here the water channels to the far left, plunges straight into a large boulder, and rebounds back to the right. The water hitting the boulder makes a large reactive pillow wave that will almost always turn you to the right and keep you off of the rock. Line up going in right of center on the main tongue with the boat heading slightly right for the best chance of getting through upright. Above 1000 cfs or so a rocky sneak route opens up on the right side of this chute. There’s a good sized pool below to collect up any swimmers.

For the next mile or so the creek is mostly moving flatwater or class I riffles. You can recognize the end of this doldrums section by the small run entering from river left and a small set of riffles developing off some boulders on the right side. Below here you’ll start to see big, flat midstream boulders and the whitewater starts to pick up again.The first rapid after the doldrums is a great straight shot chute. Head straight down the center for the safest line. At lower levels you may want to experiment with taking a left line to try out the small slide/hole there, but be aware that it may be slightly sticky. At higher levels, around 1000 cfs, the wave train stepping down through the center can develop standing waves that are 5 feet from crest to trough!

The next rapid to look for is a class II wavy rapid. You can recognize it from above by watching the river left bank for a VW sized boulder that looks like it has a tree growing directly out of it (it’s actually just behind). The rapid is just around the bend, with a series of waves down the center or a nice kayak slot at the top on the far right. At the slot you can practice your boof off the lip of the drop or ramp off of the rock that forms the left side of the slot. For extra points try to run the slot from left to right, diving into the tiny eddy immediately below on the right.

Next there is a section of wavy water leading into a fairly easy chute down the left side. If the water is above 500 cfs or so you can start at the right on the top and fade left as you go down the rapid. Just below is a good sized pool, with the biggest rapid of the run, Pinultimate, at the bottom.

Pinultimate can be scouted (or portaged) from river right. At lower levels there is a ledge that becomes exposed on river right immediately above the rapid that makes a great scouting location. If you choose to portage you can scramble down the right side and put in on the slightly wavy water below the main rapid. The rapid itself has three main lines – right, left & center. To hit the right line start right of center and drive right into the eddy behind the ledge, then cut through the series of slots to the bottom. At low levels these slots can be rocky. This line is a real strainer collector, so don’t drop in unless you know its clear. The left line can be a fun sneak at levels below 500 cfs. Cut between the big boulder and the left bank and drop off a 3 foot ledge into mostly quiet water (as of March 2007 be very careful about an underwater log projecting from the left bank into the main line – avoidable by cutting to the right HARD after the drop). Once water levels climb above 600 cfs or so this ledge drop becomes a much tougher wave/hole. After the ledge follow the left side down through the rapid. The center line is the most often run and can be the hardest. Start at the center and drive down, pointing slightly left, towards the big rock in the center (Pinultimate Rock, also known as Stupid Rock) and pass it to the left. From here you can catch an eddy to the right, take the left channel, or pick one of the center channels to finish off the rapid (be careful that there are no strainers in the middle channels). As the water level drops below 450 cfs a pourover with a little hole below comes into play just above Pinultimate Rock. This hole can become more intense as the water level drops below 450 cfs to around 300 cfs, and requires a little more maneuvering to successfully run. Line your boat up pointing further to the left as you approach for a good chance of dropping into the hole and then shooting past Pinultimate Rock. Also, be aware that the big house sized boulder at the bottom of the rapid on river left is a paddle eater, so if you swim and can’t find your stick…

After Pinultimate is a series of smaller ledges that can provide some excellent surf. My favorite wave is about half way down, with great eddy service from behind the cluster of boulders on the left. From around 450 cfs up you can surf a wave that runs more than half way across the creek. (This wave can be a park’n’play destination for those with a little time and energy. Carry and paddle up river left about 15 minutes from Harris bridge to get there.) Just below the surf waves you’ll see a small creek, Hell Run (from the Hell’s Hollow section of McConnells Mills State Park) enter on river right. Beyond this lies a fairly long section of class II water. At lower levels it gets kind of scrapy – start at river right near Hell Run and run down the right side for the best water. Below the first set of ledges is a fun slide on river right. You can catch the strongly circulating eddy below and try to drop into the wave to surf. Below about 500 cfs the wave is a good surf, but the water on the slide rock is shallow. Above 500 cfs there is some depth over the slide rock, but the wave gets to be seriously bouncy and rough.

Below the slide wave is a short section of class II water (beware of the rooster tail rock in the center) leading to the last ledge of the run, just above Harris bridge. This wave can be surfed easily, with eddy service on either side. The take out is on river right about 100 feet upstream from the bridge.

Please see Three River Paddling Club's Larry Wentzel's exhaustive description of this section of the run.




StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2008-05-08 19:17:39

Editors


Rapid Descriptions

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