Flint Creek is a shallow, seasonal creek in the Finger Lakes Basin, with origins in the steep ridges of Italy Valley, Southeast of the Southern end of Canandaigua Lake. The creek is characterized by a series of technical Class-III-IV ledge drops through the village of Phelps.
There are numerous stopper pourovers, shallow holes and surf waves associated with these ledge drops.
At high water (Stage 4.5 feet), Flint Creek is a fast & furious Class-IV run with serious consequences and close encounters with strainers. More than a few people have been spanked hard at high water, with the loss of numerous paddles and boats.
Though its watershed is quite large, Flint Creek is rarely runnable. The good thing is that it holds water much better than many small creeks.
As a general rule, the creek is runnable only during the spring runoff or after moderate-heavy rains, when there is enough water to run the Old Mill Falls in downtown Phelps.
Lat/longitude verified by GPS.
For a longer run, putin off Waddell Road in Orleans. You get about five additional playspots (including "Shroo Hole") and one good rapid ("Single Drop") at normal levels.
Lat/longitude coords verified by GPS.
A ledge-hole that extends across most of the river, this one is the best playspot on the upper section of the creek, and one of the best playspots on the whole creek. Don't miss it.
The putin, for when time is short, is located 2 miles southwest of Phelps, just off Rte. 488 at the Wheat Road bridge. See the map.
At approximately 1.75 miles you will find the 15-foot high Trippple Drop. This is a series of 5-foot ledges. A normal line is river left. At high water, the hole at the bottom can be sticky. Grab the eddy left at the end of the rapid if you're looking to play this hole.
This, the third small walking bridge that you encounter, is a low bridge that can collect wood. Like the bridge at Double Drop, it has the most headroom at the extreme river left. Soon afterwards is the notorious Toxic Hole.
At about 2 miles, as you approach Highway 96, you will drop over a steep 3-foot high pourover into a deep pool. This is named Toxic Hole for the abundant brown froth found in the pool.
Toxic Hole is a nearly-symmetrical ledge with a powerful recirculation, depending on the level. It appears as a harmless drop from the road, and by boat scout, but it has consequences for those who don't take it seriously. Logs and branches have been seen worked in this feature for quite some time. This feature carries extra risks because it is viewable from route 96, and amateurs might attempt to run this ledge without the proper knowledge. The drop is literally no more than 3 feet. So don't take this one lightly, my friends; take this drop by heading about as far left as you can go, and by paddling aggressively as you reach the drop. If you run it sideways, or if you don't work hard to paddle out of its recirc, don't come crying to me.
The rapids at Melvin Hill Road bridge are a series of ledge drops between a concrete supply yard. Farther downstream is one of the best rodeo holes on the river, just before the Eagle Street bridge. It is located about 100 feet upstream from the bridge, toward river right. The hole would be outstanding, were the creek not so shallow. Just downstream from Eagle Street is a wonderful, solitary hole in the center of the river. Below this hole, a low-angle slide drops you into a river-wide surf wave. Then, you will notice a substantial horizon line as you approached the next bridge. This is a river-wide ledge. The biggest (and most jarring) drop is in the middle, and consists of a 5-foot vertical waterfall drop. Toward either side, the ledge is only about 4 feet high, and is more of a steep slide. About 50 feet downstream from this ledge drop is the next bridge, called The Tubes.
The Tubes is a railroad bridge with three arches. This bridge is quite dangerous because of the ever-changing accumulation of strainers. The main current usually funnels into the middle tube, which is usually clogged with debris. BE VERY CAREFUL HERE, SCOUT THOROUGHLY AHEAD OF TIME. The left tunnel is the most difficult and most interesting. Immediately after this bridge is a river-wide, 3 or 4-foot pourover.
Wade Bowman contributes: "This is an extremely technical section, and the water is extremely shallow for a long distance following the tube, which is something foot scouting will not reveal. When I say shallow, I mean about an inch of water (at a high level), and it moves very fast. Be sure you are on balance and prepared after the first drop, before entering the tube. Being on edge or out of your boat would be a disaster at this point." Between The Tubes and the Williams Street bridge is only one interesting river-wide ledge drop. River left is a slot with a large rooster tail. Sneak just right of the roster tail. At very high water, you may bypass the slot on far river right, over a pourover. Immediately before the Williams Street bridge there is a nice boofing rock in the center of the current. It has a large pillow in front of it.
8 years ago
by angela baldo
9 years ago
by Matt Muir
300 cfs is what most paddlers might call a minimum. If you were really jonesing for a Flint run, you could bounce down at 200 cfs.
The linked USGS gage appears to be a new phenomenon. (Note: many of these new gages are the direct result of American Whitewater's close alliance with the USGS, through its officers and advocates and through the StreamKeeper Project. You are a member...aren't you?)
There is a hand-painted gauge on the Eagle Street bridge in Phelps (see description below). Consider the creek runnable when there is enough water to run Old Mill Falls in downtown Phelps (about 3.5 feet or higher on the gauge).
Class III- @ 3.0 at the bridge (~2.3', 170 cfs USGS)
Class III @ 4.0 at the bridge (~3.2', 450 cfs USGS)
Class IV- @ 4.5 (~3.8', 1100 cfs USGS)
Class IV @ 5.0 at the bridge (~4.2', 1800 cfs USGS)
Class IV+ @ 5.5
Permits are not required for this reach.
The normal putin is on Wheat Road, just off NY-488. The normal takeout is on Mill Street, just off Flint Street. An alternate putin a couple of miles upstream in Orleans at Mill Road, just off NY-488 (Lat/Long coords: 42.91967, -77.11363)--it gives the paddler at least one good rapid ("Single Drop") and about five more good playspots--including Shroo Hole, one of the finest playspots on the whole dang crick at high water. An alternate takeout is at the Old Mill at Route 96 (Lat/Long coords: 42.95815, -77.06013). Driving Directions:
Check out the map for roads and rapids.
From the NY Thruway, take Exit 43 (Manchester, Rte. 21). After the tollbooth, take a Right onto Rte. 21.
Almost immediately, you'll come to lights. Take a Left onto Rte. 96.
Head about 6-7 miles into the town of Phelps. Just before a bridge, you'll see a liquor store on your right. The bridge is over Flint Creek, just downstream of Old Mill Falls. Park in the nondescript parking area across the street from the liquor store. You'll either take out at the Falls or a quarter mile downstream at Mill Street. (See the map.)
To the putin:
Head west on Rte. 96. Take a Left at the lights onto Rte. 488.
(For the shorter run--appropriate if you're pressed for time)
After a mile and change on 488, bang a Left onto Wheat Road. Park along the road and putin at the bridge.
(For the longer run--you get more play this way, especially if it's running at a beefy level!)
Stay on Rte. 488 South past Wheat Rd. In Orleans, take a Left onto Mill Rd. Park on the river-side of the road; head toward the river, under the small bridge, and putin at the confluence with the small brook. Flint Creek is best known for the vertical 11-foot high dam and Old Mill Falls (class IV/IV+) that is readily visible from the Route 96 bridge in downtown Phelps. Click here for the Google map of the longer shuttle. Going this way, through some of the surface streets of Phelps, you can stop off at the railroad bridge and scout the Tubes (to see which Tube[s] are blocked by wood on your particular day).
Video (YouTube Link)
Takin' the Plunge
Right Side of Old Mill Falls
Hans in Trippple Drop
Playing in the Low-bridge Hole
Air Time at Old Mill Falls
Passing the concrete factory in Phelps
Popping out of the Tube
Low Bridge! Everybody down!
Old Mill Falls
Strainer as of
Flint Creek Map
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!