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Difficulty II-III at this flow (III normally)
Length 5.7 Miles
Gauge Stonycreek River at Ferndale, PA
Flow Range 470 - 3600 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 20 minutes ago 91.7 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 01/14/2018 12:10 pm

River Description

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 SQI/Whitewater Fund.

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.

See the Benscreek Canoe Club Stonycreek Watershed Page.

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, -78.922907
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))

Rapid Descriptions

Hollsopple Ballfield Put-in

Class - N/A Mile - 0
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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


Class - III+ Mile - 1
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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 if hit directly in the middle of the "V".  There are two smaller holes just downstream and a heavy rock garden below the main rapid that paddlers can pick their way through.

Foustwell Bridge Put-In

Class - N/A Mile - 1.3
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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.

"Shade Creek Surf Waves"

Class - II+ Mile - 1.5
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Right where Shade Creek joins up with the Stony, there are a couple of nice surf waves to get warmed up on that you easily access from an eddy on river right, or from the middle of the river.    A good place to warm up your surfing skills for the main event downriver in "Surf Lab."

"Split Stream"

Class - III Mile - 1.7
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AKA "Road Rapid".   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.

The river-left channel around the island can be run as well, but it can be bonier at lower water.

"Surf Lab"

Class - III Mile - 1.8
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This rapid is packed with play spots. From the beginning of  "Test Tube Hole" (Johnson's Hole/Wave is gone, since the rock that created it moved) 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.

"Lower Railroad"

Class - III Mile - 2.2
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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.

"The Wall"

Class - III Mile - 2.4
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This rapid easily can be identified where the river splits into two channels around an island and the river left shore forms a shear wall.  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 usually very bony. 

"Three Ugly Sisters"

Class - III Mile - 2.6
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Soon after "The Wall" you will enter a succession of rapids named the "Three Ugly Sisters" that provide wonderful surfing at medium to high levels.  The Third "Sister" is a near-river-wide hydraulic that can be enjoyed at low levels also.  There have been up to nine boats in that hole at the same time on numerous occasions.


Class - III Mile - 2.9
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AKA "Rooster Tail".   The name "Landslide comes from a Landslide that occurred a number of years ago on the river left bank down to the river.   This rapid can be run to the left of a river island through a mid-sized shoot.  The shoot runs along the left side of the island and has changed a little at the top due to the landslide on river left.  On the other side of the island, the right channel is straightforward, but can be bony at the bottom at low water.    Due to the shifting of the current at the bottom of this rapid, the rock that formed the "Rooster Tail" (an older name for this rapid) is now out of the main current.  Because of this, the name of this rapid seems to be shifting towards "Landslide."


Class - III Mile - 3
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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, but is right in the middle of the line boaters will take moving downstream.   Just be sure to scout up river for any traffic before jumping in the hole.

"Hydro Rock"

Class - III Mile - 3.1
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After "Scout" and the standing waves below "Scout", there’s a large rectangular boulder in the middle of the river.  "Hydro Rock" is run by pointing the boat at “2:00” 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.


Class - III Mile - 3.2
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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 and perhaps some playing opportunities.


Class - II Mile - 3.9
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AKA "Delta".   After about a half a mile of boogie water, look for a channel on the far right side.   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.

"Border Dam"

Class - N/A Mile - 4.2
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This used to be considered runnable, but the understructure is falling apart, and your boat (and body) risk unfortunate encounters with rotten boards, sharp spikes and large exposed bolts.   Portage river left.


Class - III Mile - 4.5
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This rapid should be scouted (easily boat scouted on river right) 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 in the middle which should be avoided. There is always a tongue on river left that can be successfully and safely run. Start left (about 10 feet off the left shore) over the drop then make your way to the middle to avoid a nasty rock garden.


Class - II+ Mile - 5
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A series of mild rock gardens that is run most easily on river-right.


Class - III Mile - 5.3
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"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 up to 6 feet (~3,000 cfs) on the USGS Ferndale Gauge.

"Eddy Hop"

Class - II+ Mile - 5.5
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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.

"Carpenters Park" Take-out

Class - N/A Mile - 5.7
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Take-out on river right just below the bridge.


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Charles Walbridge
8 years ago

I just got back from the Stony Creek Rendezvous near Johnstown, PA. This is the first year that the new valve at Quemahoning Dam released into the river. It added 500 cfs to the river, roughly doubling the flow. What a great creek! Like the Tohockon, but bigger, like the Yough, but more continuous and playful. They'll be releasing every other weekend for the rest of the year. It's part of a multi-millon dollar project that paddlers had a big role in, cleaning up the water and creating a new whitewater park. Check it out!

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Wayne Powel
10 years ago

There is a tree down about 1/3 of a mile below the railroad bridge at what I understand is the 2nd Ugly Sister. It is after the river turns 90 degrees to the right after the railroad bridge. It covers about 1/3 of the river on river right. It is easily seen and avoided.

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11 years ago

Warning! There is a very large tree that is lodged in the large rock below pipeline. Get out and scout at all river levels. We ran it at 3.5 today and the tree is a factor but at higher levels it could make this rapid deadly. AS OF 4-25-09 (FESTIVAL WEKEND) THIS TREE HAD BEEN CLEARD OUT.!

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Sean O'Malley
14 years ago

Ran this on 4/29/06 at 3.5 Ferndale, about 2 ft on the putin bridge. This seemed the lowest reasonable level, perhaps even below, for my tastes. Many nice playspots still, but a lot of the drops were VERY bony and technical. I guess folks put up with the boat abuse to get to the playspots.

In contrast, I think 4 or 4.25 Ferndale is a lovely level. The run is nearly continuous, boat scoutable class 3 at that reading, with short recovery pools below most drops and lots of surf waves.

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16 years ago

Ran this on March 28, 2004 at 4 feet on USGS and 2.5 on the bridge. The best/biggest rapid is the one just above the gauge bridge. Don't know its name but it was a fun one!! The play below the bridge was incredible. At 1100 cfs it was fun class three, with only the rapid above the bridge rating a 3+. At the 1100 cfs level there was nothing that was close to a class 4 on the river. We looked at the dam, there was no logical reason to run it or submit the boats to the abuse. We carried left.

Overall the run is very pool drop with good sized pools for rescuing beginners. The run is good for beginners with good rolls.

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Fritz Crytzer
16 years ago

26 September 2003: Ran this at a 2.5" level in a tandem open boat with my daughter, Rozalyn, and some friends. Very good run with continuous Class III action. Forget about the dam-it's just not worth it with the threat of rebar to puncture boats and people! Pipeline was over rated at this level. Easy to run left of center. Otherwise, great rapids, fun holes and waves, good technical Class III river!

Gage Descriptions

There's also a paddlers' gage painted on the Rte. 601 bridge in Foustwell. You can get a good approximation of this gage by subtracting 1.75 from the above USGS Ferndale gage. It starts to get continuous and nasty at the high end of the recommended runnable range.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

Date Flow Result Factor  
2010-05-15 Medium Fatality Other Read More




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New Stonycreek River Summer Releases Near Johnstown PA

Kevin Colburn

2012 marks the first year of scheduled releases on Pennsylvania's Class III+ Stonycreek River.  The releases, in concert with a new whitewater park, and significant water quality and ecological recovery efforts welcome paddlers to enjoy a great recreational opportunity on the extremely fun Stonycreek River this year and for years to come. 

article main photo

June Volunteer of the Month - Presented by Kokatat

Jeffrey Paine


American Whitewater is pleased to announce our June 2010 Volunteer of the Month: Steve Podratsky! Steve has been instrumental in getting the Whitewater Park and Valve for the Quemahoning Dam. This valve will allow for releases of water to support whitewater boating in the Stonycreek Canyon of the Stonycreek River (PA). In recognition of his efforts Steve will be receiving an OuterCore Long-Sleeve Shirt from Kokatat! Nice work Steve!
article main photo

Pennsylvania Dam Removal Conference to be Held January 31st.

Kevin Colburn

There will be a one day conference on January 31st in eastern Pennsylvania that will address dam removal and rehabilitation in the state and region. It is likely that this very affordable conference would be helpful to paddlers interested in working on dam removal projects in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Registration for the conference is due by January 23rd.

Tony Allred Jr


Matt Muir


Ricky Hazlett


Aaron Fleishman


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1208720 01/14/18 Tony Allred Jr 8-5-2018 - cleanup
1192632 04/29/05 n/a n/a
1208719 01/14/18 Tony Allred Jr 1-14-2018 - Fixed Broken Link
1205330 10/15/15 Ricky Hazlett added LC reaches
1198639 11/11/10 Matt Muir Added sig photo and abstract.
1206925 10/20/16 Aaron Fleishman updated river section with rapid descriptions, names, and more commonly used put-ins
1206926 10/20/16 Aaron Fleishman added johnson's hole into surflab decription
1206931 10/20/16 Aaron Fleishman updated description and added GPS coords
1206929 10/20/16 Aaron Fleishman added distance
1206930 10/20/16 Aaron Fleishman added road rapid
1206932 10/20/16 Aaron Fleishman 1-8-2018 Cleanup