Sugar Creek is a short but sweet class IV creek run with one mandatory portage. It is a small seasonal creek that flows through Sugar Creek Glen and then into Canaseraga Creek in Poags Hole. It contains two back-to-back 30-foot waterfalls that are not runnable. These waterfalls terminate on rock slabs below.PHOTO: Marty Murphy on Sugar Creek.SUGAR CREEK
The putin is located between the town of Canaseraga and Dansville, where Route 13B crosses the creek about 4 miles northeast of Canaseraga. Sugar Creek drops 300 feet over 1.7 miles before it feeds into Canaseraga Creek in Poags Hole. Downstream from Route 13B, the first mile is very unremarkable. It consists of a narrow and shallow creek with very little gradient. Strainers are abundant. There is one minor 10-foot drop in this section of the creek.
At about one mile, the creek breaks through the shale bedrock and begins a series of waterfall drops in a deep canyon lined with vertical shale cliffs. The drops consist of sluices, stair-steps, and corkscrews. Some of the drops would be impossible to foot scout at high water, given the vertical cliffs on either side of the creek. There is one drop that would be particularly difficult to scout, where the creek drops 25 feet as it turns 90 degrees to the left in a gorge lined with vertical cliffs.
Further down the creek makes a sweeping turn to the right (around a blind corner) before it suddenly drops over two 30-foot vertical waterfalls. These waterfalls are not runnable, and there are no eddies to catch once you've realized your fatal mistake. (Some boaters have noted, at specific flows, that there is a tricky "one boat eddy" right at the lip of the falls on river right.)WARNING! It is easy to be swept over both 30-foot waterfalls unless you know beforehand where the final eddies are located. You will die if you are swept over either of the waterfalls.
These unrunnable waterfalls can be easily portaged on river left, if the water is low enough to allow access to a 200-foot long sidewalk-like ledge on river left. This flat ledge is located along the left bank of the creek as it makes its final sweeping turn to the right to the 30-foot waterfalls. Takeout at the upstream end of this ledge, as there are no eddies on river left. From the extreme end of this ledge, traverse around the end of the high cliff wall and descend steeply over rocks and tree roots to the creek below. At higher flows, this ledge will be underwater.
If the above-mentioned ledge is underwater, then you will have to takeout on river right well above the 30-foot waterfalls. Be aware that if you haven't scouted the creek at low water, you could possibly be swept around the sweeping blind turn and over two bone-crunching waterfalls. A takeout on river right necessitates rappelling down the cliffs along side of the waterfalls.
Once below the waterfalls, continue down Sugar Creek over a few more drops until you reach the confluence with Canaseraga Creek. Follow Canaseraga Creek for another 2.4 miles to the takeout on Poags Hole Road, at the bridge. The road changes from paved to gravel immediately after this bridge.
Finger Lakes Area Runs
Bowman Creek Cascadilla Creek Canandaigua Outlet
Canaseraga Creek Canisteo Cayuga Lake Hole
Cayuta Creek Conesus Creek Fall Creek (1.)
Fall Creek (2.) Fall Creek (3.) Great Gully Creek
Honeoye Creek Irondequoit Creek Keshequa Creek
Keuka Outlet Lock 32 Whitewater Course Owasco River (Outlet)
Salmon Creek Sixmile Creek Sugar Creek
Taughannock Creek (1.) Taughannock Creek (2.) Trumansburg Creek
Western New York Area Reaches
Beaver Meadow Creek Canadaway Creek (1.) Canadaway Creek (2.)
Canaseraga Creek Cattaraugus Creek Cattaraugus Creek, S. Branch
Cazenovia Creek, W. Branch (1.) Cazenovia Creek, W. Branch (2.) Chautauqua Creek
Clear Creek, N. Br. Conesus Creek Eighteenmile Creek
Eighteenmile Creek, S. Br. Ellicott Creek Genesee (Letchworth)
Honeoye Creek Keshequa Creek Little Chautauqua Creek
Murder Creek Niagara Oak Orchard Creek
Oatka Creek Rushford Lake Outlet Sugar Creek
Google Map of New York Whitewater
New York Whitewater Paddlers Facebook Group
There is no river gauge. Expect Sugar Creek to be running when Canaseraga Creek is also running.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
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.
2010 marked the 25th anniversary of protecting the Black and Moose rivers! View an online video documentary on the Moose River and the early role that American Whitewater played in protecting this amazing river.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!