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Difficulty II-III
Length 12.5 Miles
Gauge Lehigh R bl Francis E Walter Res nr White Haven PA
Flow Range 450 - 10000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 25 minutes ago 725 [CFS]
Next Release 2019-08-18
Reach Info Last Updated 08/31/2016 5:09 pm

River Description


Longer and more scenic than the upper section, it has more challenging rapids, but more flat water.
Related web sites: ab257's Lehigh Page  Lehigh River Water Trail 
The weekend releases are posted Wednesdays and finalized Fridays at:
Army Corps and reservoir levels can be found at: Francis Walter Dam

This section is a 12 mile run from Rockport to Jim Thorpe (or you can use the Glen Onoko take out which cuts out 2 miles of mostly flatwater and Class II down to Thorpe).

A bike trail follows the river along an old railroad bed from Glen Onoko to White Haven as part of the state park, with bike rentals available locally. The river is administered by the PA Dept of Conservation and Natural Resources. There is a steep trail starting at the parking area at Glen Onoko that goes up to the top of a multi level water fall. The park administers access to the river as well as the bike trail. The eastern shore of the upper section borders Hickory Run state park, with some hiking trails down to the river. The whole White Haven to Thorpe area has a long history of coal mining and tourism. Water levels are dependent on the releases from the Francis Walters dam, operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, planned weekend releases are usually announced on Wednesday and updated on Friday.

There is usually enough water for regular releases in the spring, thru the end of May. The Army Corps has modified the access road to the dam to allow the level to be raised during the spring, storing water for summer releases (approximately every other weekend). The release is usually shut off at 1pm on Saturday and Sunday. These releases are sometimes canceled due to prolonged dry spells.

An AWA trip report contains screen shots of satellite photos of each rapid with brief comments, located here.

Rapid Descriptions

Rockport

Class - N/A Mile - 0

Put-In - You can drop off or pick up boats at the bottom of the hill, but must park in the State Park's parking lots at the top of the hill.

Entrance

Class - III Mile - 0.2

ust below Rockport there is a large eddy on the left. Just below the eddy is a squirt eddy line off the right bank. Run to the right of the island below the eddy. A small glassy surfing wave is in the center at the start of the rapid. Follow the main current down the center of the river. At high water, the island can also be run to the left.
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Satellite Photo 1

Pinball

Class - II+ Mile - 0.7

The river bends to the right, and the main current piles up on a large rock just off the left shore. You can eddy hop down the rapid along the left shore, with some nice eddy fences to punch. You can also run a slot to the left of pinball rock, but the best waves are to the right. The whole rapid can be snuck by staying to the right side of the current.
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Satellite Photo 1

Eye of Needle

Class - III Mile - 1.8

A large rock at center right divides the current, with a smaller rock to its right. Approach the rock from the right side (avoiding a ledge sticking out from the right shore) and thread in between the two rocks. Eddy out behind either of the rocks. The rapid can be snuck to the left of the rock for the wimps among us. Below the two rocks, in the center of the river, is Amy's Hole, which can get very sticky at levels above 1000 cfs (actually Amy's is the second rock/hole below the eye). Named after Amy Yuan(?), former adventurous (or gullible) Challengers guide (really, it a great surf in there - go for it).
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Satellite Photo 1
Satellite Photo 2

Dragon Lady

Class - II+ Mile - 2.5

Drake's Creek enters from the left near the start of the rapid (also a put-in for Pocono Whitewater and an emergency egress from the river). A large ledge juts out from the left hand shore below the creek with eddys below and above. Follow the main current just to the right of the ledge for some nice waves.
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Satellite Photo 1

Stuckies (aka Pain in the A--)

Class - II+ Mile - 2.9

So called because of an abundance of little rocks at low water (also called Stuckies). Enter rapid to right of large rock in the center of the river and then follow the current to the left as it goes down thru a small rock garden. At higher water you can enter to the left of the rock and avoid some of the rocks.
Satellite Photo 1

White Falls

Class - III Mile - 3.7

After some riffles and a large eddy along the right shore you enter White Falls (or Little Falls, or White Chairs because of some chairs along the river bank when rafting was first starting). Pass just to the left of a pinning rock in right center. Cut behind the rock down to a washed over ledge running diagonally across the river. Pick out a clean looking slot, and shoot on thru. The right side above the ledge is rocky and shallow. Just above the island at the start of the next rapid (Mile Long) is a rock (exposed at 400 cfs) with some raft ripping metal sticking out of it.
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Satellite Photo 1

Three Quarter Mile Long

Class - III Mile - 4

Not quite a mile long, but still the longest rapid on the river (other than perhaps Sea of Rocks, which at low water seems twice as long). Avoiding a piece of metal just above the island, run to the right for a narrow twisty passage, or to the left for a senic view of an old boxcar left over from a train derailment. Below the island is a long rock garden type rapid. At 1000 cfs or above check out two side surfing hydraulics on the middle left side. Below this work your way gradually to the right until you reach a surfing/pop-up wave/hole near a pyramid rock on the right shore. Continue on down and eddy out on the left before Little Swimmers. Watch out for a metal beam sticking out from the right shore at the top of the eddy, and for submerged metal on the bottom/left of the eddy.
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Satellite Photo 1

Little Swimmers

Class - III Mile - 5.1

AKA "Bridal Veil".  The second most challenging rapid (after Tower) Little Swimmers (or Bridal Veil) starts to the right of the island below the pool (watch out for submerged metal at the bottom left of the eddy). Avoid (or surf) a hydraulic coming out from the right shore, and stay in the center through some big waves coming at you from all directions. Below these waves is a short stretch of calmer water with a pinning rock dead center. Cut behind this rock and go through a chute in a gap between two large rock ledges (Little Swimmers). The rapid gets much less pushy below this. Pick your way through the rocks, but don't get caught going down a shallow channel to the right of a low island. In flood conditions the two rock ledges become a set of raft flipping monster holes called Chiller and Thriller.
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Satellite Photo 1

Straight Shot

Class - II Mile - 6

The river is narrowed by an island on the right. Go straight down the middle of the channel through some nice waves. Work your way to the right at the bottom. You can have an early lunch on the rocks at the bottom of the island, or at a beach on the right shore.
Satellite Photo 1

Penn Haven

Class - III Mile - 6.7

Former site of a small railroad junction town, the Lehigh makes a left turn, and the current goes past a high rock retaining wall on the right. A flipping rock juts out from the wall, with a nice eddy behind it and a surfing wave alongside the eddy. Across from the rock is a nice lunch spot on the left shore. Below is a railroad bridge and Quakake Creek coming in from the right side. At high water the two bridge piers are placed perfectly for pinning and wrapping unwary rafts. Black Creek to Quakake to the Lehigh is a nice Class III creek run from Weatherly after a heavy rain.
Satellite Photo 1

Hurry Left

Class - II+ Mile - 7.5

AKA "Double Barrel".  Similar in character but larger than P in the A rapid. Start Hurry Left (or Double Barrel rapid) to the right of a small island in low water and follow current to the left. Avoid numerous rocks as you work your way towards the left side. Some nice eddy hopping if you feel energetic. Avoid the right side unless you enjoy dragging your raft off of rocks. At higher water, you can run to the left of the island for a cleaner shot over to the left side.
Satellite Photo 1

Hurry Right

Class - II+ Mile - 7.8

After Hurry Left, the river gradually bends to the right. A horizon line indicates a long ledge coming out from the left shore. There is a clean chute on the right side, leading into a small wave/hole. Right below this are some lunch stops for rafting companies (a good place to avoid), and a mile or so of flat water (with occasional head winds) up to Rattler and then to Bear Creek.
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Satellite Photo 1

Rattler

Class - II Mile - 8.5

Only memorable because it relieves a little of the boredom from the flatwater in this stretch. The river bends gradually to the right, with shallows on the right side, and the majority of the current along the left bank. About half way down there is a rock about 3 foot from the left shore. Go to the right of it, there is no way a raft will fit between the rock and the shore (believe me, a lot of people have tried).
Satellite Photo 1

Oxbow

Class - III Mile - 9.5

AKA "Pipeline".  At the deepest part of the Lehigh Gorge, the river makes a large oxbow bend. Bear Creek comes in from the left into a large calm area at the top of the rapid. Enter from the right side (just to the left of some rocks). The current will carry you to the center as the river bends to the right. As you come around the bend there is a large rock ledge sticking out from the left shore with 45 minute (thats how long it takes to get your raft off of it) rock ready to grab you if you get too far left. Just below in the main current is a wave/hole that at the right level can give kayakers a bouncy surf for a couple of seconds. A long stretch of Class II follows with a few holes in the center. Along the left is a sheer rock wall with some nice waves along it. The last wave in this stretch has an eddy next to it along the wall, and will give you pop-ups if the level is not too low. As you come around the left bend below this section there will be a beach on the left, and a pipeline running overhead. One of the first oil pipelines from the central PA oil fields, now used for natural gas, it gives the rapid its other name - Pipeline.
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Satellite Photo 1

Boulder Garden

Class - II Mile - 9.9
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

A rock garden with a few ledges and usually minimal flow.  Good chance ot practice eddy turns.

Sea of Rocks

Class - II+ Mile - 10.7

Rocks, rocks, rocks. A long rapid with a lot of maneuvering if you don't want to get hung up. Start in the middle down thru some waves and small holes past a small ledge. Start working you way over to the right. When a small island is not to far away, either work your way over to the far right down to Iron Ring Eddy, or head over the the left side of the island for a run thru a narrow channel. Then kiss the pyramid shape rock as you go past it towards the eddy. Above the island on the middle right side is a table sized rock with two smaller rocks in front of it. In a kayak you can run right at the rock, bounce off the pillows of all three rocks, and scrape past the right side of the rock. Named Chabot's Slot after a former WWC guide and hair boater, now lost to the wilds of the Great White North (eh?).
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Satellite Photo 1

Tower

Class - III Mile - 11.6

Tower (named for a small railroad tower on the right bank - also called Snaggletooth) is the best the Lehigh has to offer. A long technical rapid with a lot of rocks and waves, it just gets better with more water. Not a place to be out of your boat, though. From Iron Ring Eddy head immediately to the center of the river (or better yet, skip the eddy) to avoid a set of pinning rocks on the right side. Cut back right, behind the rocks and pick your way down to a river wide rocky ledge/drop. Run it through slots on far right or in the center. Once past the ledge, enjoy the bouncy waves until it mellows out a little. Then you will see Battleship Rock slightly to the right of the current. At under 1000 cfs, it is the worst (or best) pinning spot on the river (my personal record is 3 rafts wrapped one on top of each other). Go left of the rock, and down through some small holes and rocks. After this stretch you can relax, all thats left are some easy drops.
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Satellite Photo 1

Up Against It

Class - II Mile - 12.6

Just across from the takeout at Glen Onoko, the river makes a sweeping right hand turn. The current piles up against a steep rock cliff, and the rafts pile up against a knob sticking out of the cliff. If two rafts get stuck at the same time, the second usually flips - providing a lot of amusement for spectators. If you are continuing downstream, watch out for the bridge piers at high water. Otherwise, you can get some squirts off the eddy line there. Glen Onoko has become a popular place, with a lot of bicyclists along the old railroad bed and hikers going up to the falls. This section of the river down to Jim Thorpe can be run down to 250 cfs, if you don't mind a short day on the river. Glen Onoko can be reached by car from the east side of Jim Thorpe - take Main Street north until you see tha park entrance sign. Parking, restroom, and change facilities are available thanks to the park service.
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Satellite Photo 1

Glen Onoko

Class - N/A Mile - 12.7

Take Out. Can continue downstream about 2 miles and take out in the town of Jim Thorpe's parking lot on the river side of the railroad tracks.
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Comments

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Philip Dawson
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12 years ago

After paddling again at 1200 cfs, I think the official description of Class III applies perfectly:

Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare; self-rescue is usually easy but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end of this difficulty range are designated

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Robert Hall
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14 years ago

Brad you need to come back when the levels are higher this is where the class 3 rating comes in. I have paddled the Lehigh since I was 12 and there is class 3, but the lower yough is way better. Remember the rating is setup for the range of suggested levels so at 1150cfs it might seem like class 2, however this same rapid at 8000cfs is another story!

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BradR
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14 years ago

Hey Art,went back and did the run at 1150 cfs.....still not a class 3 rapid anywhere on the river. Nothing anywhere to compare with Cucumber,Nanty Falls or Zoar gap. Pretty, fun, long, but nothing but class 2.

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BradR
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14 years ago

Fun and Scenic. At 900 cfs its all Class 2. Not a class 3 rapid to be found, however some of the wave trains and boulder gardens are very long. A swim would suck. A great run for a beginner in good shape. Much easier than the lower yough.

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Arthur Balajthy
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14 years ago

Re Brad's comment - have to disagree that this section of the Lehigh is a 2 - It is easier than the Yough, but I'd still class some of the rapids as easy III.

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9 years ago

paddled this section on oct. 25th, sunday, and i believe level was about 1000cfs. i felt that some of the rapids should be considered class lll-. the last couple miles, the rapids are rather long, not really dangerous, but long. A swim would not be fun.

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12 years ago

Even at a 750 cfs release, there are several class 3 rapids on this section. there are eddies enough to catch, but if you are inexperienced, the stretch from white falls through bridal veil / barn door would be difficult.

suggest altering some river maps as the floods in June 06 have altered some of the main lines in white falls.

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Gary Gentile
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2 years ago

A detailed description of the entire Lehigh River can be found in the "Lehigh River Paddling Guide," which can be purchased online at http://www.ggentile.com/nonfiction_books.html. Scroll down to the appropriate title.

Release Schedule

More Information
Date Start Time End Time Flow
05/11/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850
05/18/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850
05/25/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850
05/26/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850
06/08/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850
06/09/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850
06/22/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850
06/23/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850
07/06/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850
07/07/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850
07/20/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850
07/21/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850
07/27/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850
07/28/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850
08/03/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850
08/04/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850
08/10/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850
08/11/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850
08/17/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850
08/18/2019 07:00:00 19:00:00 650-850

Gauge Description


This gauge measures the release from the Francis Walters dam, about 15 miles upstream.  If there has been a recent rainfall, the level may be considerable above the dam release.  Compare with the Lehigh's Lehighton gauge (about 5 miles below the takeout for this section) to see if there is a significant natural flow.

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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.

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Date Flow Result Factor  
2018-09-01 Medium Fatality Other Read More
2016-07-31 Low Near Miss/Rescue Inexperience Read More

Alerts

 

News

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Lehigh Management Plan to be Released at Meeting

2010-02-14 00:00:00-05
Kevin Colburn

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its partners will host a public meeting to announce the Francis E. Walter Dam Flow Management Plan and discuss its implementation for the 2010 recreation season. The meeting will be held Feb. 18 at the Mountain Laurel Resort, Route 940 West, White Haven, Pa., from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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February Lehigh Meeting Rescheduled

2011-01-21 00:00:00-05
Kevin Colburn

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its partners rescheduled a meeting originally planned for 2/1/11, to 2/16/11.  The Army Corps will announce the Francis E. Walter Dam Flow Management Plan and discuss its implementation for the 2011 recreation season.

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Successful Season on the Lehigh

2011-10-12 11:28:00-04
Kevin Colburn

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Philadelphia District  announced it will begin drawing down the pool of the Francis E. Walter Dam to its winter level starting Oct. 17. The draw down follows the completion of the recreation season, which included
all 24 planned whitewater release events and numerous fisheries enhancement
releases

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2016 Lehigh River Release Schedule Announced (PA)

2016-02-01 09:21:00-05
Kevin Colburn

The U.S. Army Corps Engineers’ Philadelphia District released the 2016 Flow Management Plan for the Francis E. Walter Dam in White Haven, PA.  The whitewater release schedule includes 24 dates (4 of which are dependent on sufficient water storage and not including final October weekend).

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AW Scores on Pennsylvania

2002-09-26 00:00:00-04
Jason Robertson

852thumb.jpgEarlier this week, days before AW's 4th Annual Ohiopyle Falls Race we learned that Pennsylvania accepted all of American Whitewater’s recommended changes to the state’s regulations. These changes will improve river access, visitor experiences and safety, and river management throughout the State, including the Lower Yough, Lehigh, and Slippery Rock.
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Ohiopyle State Park Updates River Regulations

2018-03-30 14:00:00-04
Charlie Walbridge

This past fall American Whitewater met with Ohiopyle State Park managers to discuss possible updates to their whitewater paddling regulations. The first topic was to change the rules governing raft sizes at different water levels to recognize the capabilities of self-bailing rafts. Shorter self-bailing boats will now be allowed to run the river at high water. Some small changes to the regulations will make Ohiopyle Falls more accessible to paddlers. A change in the way the gauge is interpreted should make the falls "legal" on more days. Although whitewater paddlers are only one part of the vast public that visits the park, every effort was made to accommodate them while avoiding user conflicts and safety hazards. Special thanks goes to Ken Bisbee, Ohiopyle State Park Operations Manager and John Hallas, a former Ohiopyle State Park Operations Manager who is now Director of State Parks. Click here to read the updated Ohiopyle River Regulations:

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Pennsylvania Dam Removal Conference to be Held January 31st.

2004-01-09 00:00:00-05
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.
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Arthur Balajthy