Paint Creek - SR 56 to Stonycreek River

Paint Creek, Pennsylvania, US


SR 56 to Stonycreek River

Usual Difficulty V (for normal flows)
Length 2.54 Miles
Avg. Gradient 225 fpm

Big Sluice

Big Sluice
Photo of Zacahary Frederick by Roger Loughney taken 11/20/05 @ Medium-Low water

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Stonycreek River at Ferndale, PA
usgs-03040000 5.50 - 10.00 ft V 00h32m 3.23 ft (too low)

River Description

Description: This is the Paint Creek in Johnstown PA.  The creek itself is highly damaged and polluted by AMD.  Each year there is a Paint Creek pick-up to fish trash from the creek.

Paint creek flows after heavy rain and run's more often than the gauge is listed.  Typically if the Little Conemaugh gauge takes on rain, then paint more than likely runs, or if the Stonycreek gauge hits 5.5ft, its more than likely paint is running.

Paint put in is typically just up from route 56 where Little Paint Creek meets Paint Creek.  There are 2 waterfalls just above put in that can also be ran.  Little Sandy's Falls (Little Paint) is the easier of the two and more rocky, but have witnessed both being ran successfully.  Hit your boof.  

Paint starts with "Deal-Breaker" and continues its steep decent under route 56 all the way down to the Stonycreek.  After deal breaker tons of ledges and drops all the way down to the first named rapid, Mousetrap.  You will go over catwalk falls, big falls, big sluice and road hole on your way down (descriptions in rapids).  Carpenter's park serves as its take out and has a gauge on the railroad bridge that spans it.

When to paddle: Paint Creek season peaks in the Spring.  March and April are good months but it can run after significant rainfall.   Look for the Stonycreek Gauge to hit 5.5 feet or over 1.8K cfs.  The Little Conemaugh gauge may be better to go off of, if the Little Conemaugh is 600cfs or higher, or rainfall peaks, Paint may be low runnable.  The painted gauge is a little bit strange as well, but -1 foot (negative 1 foot) is deemed "low runnable" but most won't paddle until it is nearing the 0 mark.

Release timing: There are no releases on this creek.

Hazards: Major AMD and other pollution in this creek.  Don't drink the water.  Also be aware of potential strainers after stormy events and the winter.

Events: Potential for "paint creek race".

Directions: You can access paint creek in Windber/Paint area.  If you are travelling via 56 south, take the Paint exit and make a right towards windber.  You should see on your left a bigger church with a nice parking lot that trucks sometimes park in.  You can park here and walk down to the area where Paint meets Little Paint, or run one of the two waterfalls on either stream.  Take out is at Carpenter's Park, where the Stonycreek Canyon take out is.


From Carpenter's Park, follow SR 4022 (Cottage Ln.) all the way into Windber/Paint.  Make a left as it turns into main street and park at the church as your cross 56.  Cottage Ln. follows the entire length of Paint Creek.


Paint Putin: 40.245079, -78.847503
Carpenter's Park Take-Out: 40.244544, -78.884373

Elevation Profile:

Put In: 1615.6
Take Out: 1301.9

Total Drop: 1615.6-1301.9 = 313.7ft

Mile 1: 
Mile 2: 
Mile 3: 


For other streams in this watershed, check out:

Stony Canyon (III-IV)
Stony Gorge (IV)
Roaring Fork (IV)
Shade Creek (III-IV)
Dark Shade Creek (IV-V)
Clear Shade Creek (III)
Quemahoning Creek (III)
Little Conemaugh River - North (II-III)
Little Conemaugh River - South (II-III)
Little Conemaugh River (II-III(V))
Trout Run (IV)

Highly polluted with Acid Mine Drainage.

See the Paint Creek Page in the Benscreek Canoe Club Stonycreek Watershed Page

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-05-03 18:50:23


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Rapid Descriptions

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