Stonycreek River, Pennsylvania, US
|Usual Difficulty||III (varies with level)|
|Stonycreek River at Ferndale, PA|
|usgs-03040000||470 - 4000 cfs||III-IV||00h34m||2160 cfs (running)|
|Rapids start to become very long and continuous, wave trains get longer, holes get bigger. Upper Level Limits are uncertain. Please comment on upper levels.|
This section has great play all over it. It primarily consists of ledges coming at you from all directions, though there are a few boulders thrown in as well.
When to paddle: This river is typically runnable on natural flow after
significant rainfall and in the winter, spring, and fall. In 2012, the Stonycreek Quemahoning
Initiative helped to install a new valve and new
whitewater park on the Stonycreek River. From April until October, the Quemahoning Reservoir
has recreational whitewater releases every other Saturday and Sunday, assuming the lake level is
above the minimum. Late summer and fall releases are highly dependent on lake level. See the
Benscreek Canoe Club page on the Quemahing Releases for updated info on
release schedule. To continue supporting these releases, please consider donating to the
Release timing: Scheduled releases will be on Saturdays and Sundays. Releases start around 7 AM and the river should rise at Faustwell Bridge put-in by 10 AM. Water should start dropping at Faustwell by 2 PM (each day). Water should start to rise around 1 PM at Carpenter’s Park. Note: each release is a 1 hr ramp up, 4 hr full release, and a 1 hr ramp down.
Hazards: there are two man-made structures. The first is Border Dam, which has spikes that can put a serious hurt on your boat. Below 7' Ferndale, it's wise to walk this one on River Left. The second structure is Pipeline, just downstream of the dam. It's runnable via a tongue on river left; the hole in the center is punchable at most levels, as well, but hit it in the wrong spot and you can get stuck in a very nasty hydraulic.
Most of the good play occurs upstream of Border Dam, though there are play waves below.
Events: The Stonycreek River is home to the Stonycreek Rendezvous, a whitewater festival that is held at Greenhouse Park in mid- to late- May of each year. Benscreek Canoe Club works with the Quemahoning Reservoir to ensure that there is enough water to paddle Stony Canyon on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the festival.
Directions: This river has two popular put-ins: either at the ballfield in Hollsopple which adds about 1 mile of flatwater/warm-up prior to showers, or at the bridge on Rte. 601 in Foustwell. The takeout is at Carpenters Park, on river right. From Hollsopple, take State Rte. 601 to Foustwell. Make a left before the bridge that goes over the Stony onto SR 4039. Follow this road for about 2 miles and under Rt. 219 (4-lane road). Just past Rte. 219 make a right onto Kaufman Church Road (there's a church on the corner). Follow for about a mile and a half and turn right at the stop sign onto SR 4022 (Carpenters Park Road). Follow over Rte. 219 (4-lane road) and down to the Stony takeout (Carpenters Park).
Hollsopple Put-In: 40.210790,
Faustwell Bridge Put-In: 40.215315, -78.901279
Carpenters Park Take-Out: 40.244293, -78.883687
For other streams in this watershed, check out:
Conemaugh River (I-II)
Clear Shade Creek (III)
Quemahoning Creek (III)
Shade Creek (III-IV)
Stony Gorge (IV)
Roaring Fork (IV)
Dark Shade Creek (IV-V)
Paint Creek (V)
Little Conemaugh River - North (II-III)
Little Conemaugh River - South (II-III)
Little Conemaugh River (II-III(V))
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.0||Hollsopple Ballfield Put-in||N/A|
|1.4||Foustwell Bridge Put-In||N/A|
|1.6||Shade Creek Surf Wave||II+|
|2.6||Three Ugly Sisters||III|
|5.7||Carpenters Park Take-out||N/A|
The first of two popular put-ins: the ballfield in Hollsopple which adds about 1 mile of flatwater/warm-up prior to showers, then about 1/4 mile down to the PA 601 Foustwell Bridge
To run Showers, put on in Benson/Hollsopple or park at Foustwell and walk up the dirt road. The river funnels into a fast-moving wave train that spits your boat into a V-shaped hole that has a tendency to flip many kayakers. The hole is not sticky. There are two smaller holes just downstream and a heavy rock garden below the main rapid that paddlers can pick their way through.
Alternate spot to park and put-in for Stonycreek. You can put in here to avoid Showers, or walk up stream about a quarter mile to put in right above Showers. This will avoid the approximate 1 mile of flatter warm-up that you get when putting in at the Hollsopple Ballfield.
Right where Shade Creek joins up with the Stony, there are a couple of small surf waves to get warmed up on that you easily access from an eddy on river right, or in the middle of the river. A good place to warm up when not too busy, but the main event is downriver in Surf Lab.
At the end of the pool where Shade Creek enters, the river splits around an island. This is sometimes called "Split Stream", or "Road Rapid" due to the access road way on river-left.
The river-right channel around the island is the usual line, and provides a couple small boofs and eddy turns around a short, but technical boulder garden.
This rapid is packed with play spots. From the beginning of Johnson's Hole and Test Tube Hole down to an overhead railroad bridge, there are 10 to 15 nice play spots, depending on the water level. This rapid is 1/4-mile below where Shade Creek enters the Stony on river-right.
Just downstream of a railroad bridge, this rapid begins with a long slide that ends with a nice haystack wave. Immediately after this comes the Locomotive – a ledge that stretches nearly across the width of the river from river left. At mid- to high-levels, the ledge transforms into a mean hole that can reach the size of a large locomotive. The hole can be avoided easily on river-right (but not too far right--watch out for Atticus Rock), and three to five great surfing waves usually form over the next 100 yards.
This rapid easily can be identified where the river splits into two channels around an island and makes a hard drop to the right and a shear slope is on your left. The left channel is the main line. Drop in at the top on river left, and follow the water down, avoiding some boulders in the bottom section. The right channel is straightforward, but very bony at low water.
Soon after The Wall you will enter a succession of rapids named the Three Sisters that provide wonderful surfing at medium to high levels. The Third Sister is a near-river-wide hydraulic than can be enjoyed at low levels also. There have been up to nine boats in that hole at the same time on numerous occasions.
This rapid is run left of a river island through a mid-sized shoot. Try to stay along the left side of the island to avoid the odd-shaped “rooster tail” hole.
The river eventually will bottleneck into a hole named Scout on river-right. This hole is a play-boater’s dream at low to medium levels. Just be sure to scout up river for any traffic before jumping in the hole.
Just after Scout there’s a large boulder in the middle of the river. Hydro is run by pointing the boat at “1:00” in front of this boulder. Depending on levels, there can be a standing wave in the middle of the drop and a nice-size hole at the bottom that can be a little sticky, followed by a large pool after the rapid. These two features can provide some of the best play-boating on the river between 4.75 (~1,500 cfs) and 6 (~3,000 cfs) feet on the USGS Ferndale Gauge.
Affectionately named, this rapid features one of the steepest drops on the river. Not known for play-boating, Beast can flip paddlers at the top of the rapid and make them thankful they can roll back up – as a swim always ends with bumps and bruises. After Hydro, stay right of the river island. After bending back to the left, there are two choices at the top of the rapid: left through a slot and over a pour-over, or right through a series of chicane-configured rock gardens. At the bottom of the rapid is a medium-sized moving pool.
Stony Canyon veterans traditionally run this rapid with their bows pointing upstream and hold that position until they float through the rapid and into the Border Dam pool.
This used to be considered runnable, but the understructure is falling apart, and your boat (and body) risk unfortunate encounters with construction materials and large exposed bolts. Portage river left.
This rapid should be scouted by first-timers and portaged on river-right if the line is not apparent. The unnatural pipeline across the river forms a potentially dangerous hydraulic and should be avoided. There is always a tongue on river left that can be successfully and safely run. Start left over the drop then make your way to the middle to avoid a nasty rock garden.
A series of mild rock gardens that is run most easily on river-right.
Dislocation Rock is tucked against the right side of the river and has a noticeable undercut feature. A nasty hole is just above the rock and should be avoided between 3.75 (~1,000 cfs) and 5.5 (~2,500 cfs) feet on the Ferndale Gauge. There are a series of glassy surfing waves with good eddy access just behind the rock when levels are between 4.5 (~1,200 cfs) and 6 (~3,000 cfs) feet on the USGS Ferndale Gauge.
Nice little boulder garden prior to the takeout that has eddies on the right and left of the channel. Most boaters try to hop down through this section, trying to catch as many of the eddies as possible.
Take-out on river right just below the bridge.