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Difficulty III-IV
Length 5.8 Miles
Gauge Lamington (Black) River near Pottersville NJ
Flow Range 160 - 500 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 84.7 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 05/30/2020 1:46 pm

River Description


This section of the Lamington River is known as the Black River. I'm not just making this up, you will see the name used in businesses in the area (Black River Coffee Co.) and on signs in Hacklebarney St. Pk. It is a very pretty run. It is also very small and creeky and can be a long day if you do the whole thing from Coopers Mill to Pottersville. 

Generally it's a III, but with a little bit of extra water some of the tighter drops could easily be called a solid IV. This creek also picks up a lot of wood at times which can add to the difficulty.The run has two small gorges. The first is upstream of Hacklebarney, the second is just above Pottersville and is very narrow (it starts just below a small summer home on river right). The second has only two rapids, but the first is quite tight and would be a solid IV+ with 3' on the gauge.

Here's a video of some of the drops from Dec. 22, 2028. The Level was 2.6 I think.

First Descent Alert!! As far as I know, Trout Brook and Rinehart Br. haven't been run!

Rapid Descriptions

Prelude

Class - Mile - 0.25

A 2 foot ledge which drops from river right to river left. It comes up a short distance below a hikers' foot bridge and signals the beginning of the whitewater.

6 foot falls

Class - Mile - 0.3

Other than the dam (Kay Falls), this is the highest individual drop on the run. It's a straight forward slide/falls into a pool. The pool below is the beginning of the pond (from the Kay falls dam) and it collects wood at times. Scout.

Kay Falls

Class - Mile - 0.5

This is an old stone dam. At the right water level you can run it in the center. Scout on the left.

Eddy Hop

Class - Mile - 0.6

Just after the ripples below Kay Falls Dam, you get to the top of Eddy Hop. Scouting may be a little easier on the left, but either is possible. Because the pond above catches much of the lumber, this usually isn't as strainer laden, but still, scout.

Big Rock

Class - N/A Mile - 0.7

After a messy little rock pile ledge, the creek goes around a large rock (10' high?). The creek goes left around the rock. The photo shows the smaller ledge which precedes Big Rock in the distance. The big rock is just left of the photo.

Bridge

Class - Mile - 0.8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

There used to be a dam below Big Rock and above the bridge. consequently, the banks are steep dirt (sediment), and there is a rocky rapid/riffle just upstream of the bridge. This is also a location which has picked up wood at times.

Suck Hole

Class - N/A Mile - 0.85

Shortly after the bridge, the creek drops over a small (3') ledge into a pool. The ledge is at a constriction of the creek with a boulder on river right and the river bank on river left. The pool is man made ( it was originally for swimming) and has a short (3' ?) dam at the end of it. This is all well and good, except that there is a hole in the bottom of the dam. If it's clear (sometimes it's blocked) and water is draining through it, it's about the right size for the first half of a swimmer to go through and then get stuck. Try not to swim here.

Picnic Rapid

Class - III+ Mile - 1.3

This rapid is named for the picnic table on river right. When the river disappears to the right behind a big rock, get out on the right to scout.

Right Slot

Class - IV Mile - 1.4

This side of the island is a little steeper  and very tight (line your paddle up with your boat) currently it has a log jam in it. Scout from the island or the top of the big rock (if you can safely get onto it). If those options aren't possible, scout from left bank.

Left Slot

Class - III+ Mile - 1.41

This side isn't as tight or steep, but currently it's the slot of choice as it's clear of wood.  (it has been choked with wood at times in the past). Scout from the island, or river left.

Nasty

Class - IV+ Mile - 3

You'll know when this is coming up as you'll see a small red house perched above the creek on river right. Take out on river left to scout. This Rapid is actually pretty cool, but there's a nasty looking pointy rock on the left in the finish drop, hence the name. You won't see the rock very well unless the water is fairly low (like in the photo). Luckily, the rock is only in play in the bottom of the runnable range (2.3-2.5' or so) and even then it flushes you past it/around it pretty smoothly.

This drop is followed by a tight bend where the river drops a few more feet.

Finale

Class - III+ Mile - 3.1

This is a nice finale to this pretty little run. After you run (or carry) Nasty, the river turns left away from the road, then right, then left again (parallel to the road). Get out on the left to scout. Finale is a simple drop, but the two rocks on either side make the hole hard to get out of at certain levels.

Comments

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Wayne Gman
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10 years ago

I ran this last week at 200 cfs or about 2.5 ft high on the fall and it seemed optimal for sneaking under many logs as well as humping over others. All the drops were open except for the 1st big drop. It was a hairy deal but I put in a complete run. Looking over the comments nobody has given this run any tlc with a saw for some time.

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Mark Zak
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12 years ago

I scouted Trout Brook and Reinhart Brook during the spring floods. They were both running when the Black was at 1,750 cfs. Trout Brook is basically a death trap at that level, but Reinhart Brook was a sweet class III-IV. Good luck catching these runs though. Black river road was flooded out and impassable to give you an idea of the level.

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Mark Zak
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13 years ago

Awesome reach. Thanks to Stephen Strange for posting the details. Nick P. Noah S. and Brian H and I put in at the fishermans access just below the pond. The level was around 260 cfs and we were more than pleased, maybe even a bit lower would have been nicer for our first time on the reach. The small dam outlet to the pond looked sketchy, maybe some debris or metal so we skipped it and went on. Every drop on the Black was run! Unfortunately the pool below six foot falls had two large trees which made for awfully nasty swim when it was run by an unnamed member of our party who had just gotten back from the Big Sandy. Please use extreme caution running six foot falls, if you swim the hole will eject you into the trees leading to an underwater body pin forcing the swimmer to climb his way to the surface through underwater branches (super ugly). The Kay falls were runnable center left, nasty rapid was bad ass and finale falls was clean and sweet. Again, awesome reach and as of 4/8/2007 everything was runnable except six foot falls, and of course there were around 10 portages in the boogie water because of strainers. One of the local landowners strung what appear to be dear attractants across the river downstream of the State Park, I guess to prevent the deer from destroying the spackel buckets its in. I don't know, but either way exercise caution in the boogie water after the park.

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Ken Packie
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13 years ago

I ran this with my Brother Thanksgiving morning. We grew up hiking in Hacklebarney so it was great to paddle it. We put in at the fishermens pond and had 6-7 riverwide strainers before we got to the Park. Both big drops at the top are unrunnable....which was disapointing. At least Nasty Rapid was clear (except for wood on river left at the top...easily avoidable). This run needs some TLC. It could be a blast at high water.

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Jake Gaechter
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13 years ago

No way i had no idea that this was a runable whitewater creek! i pass it every sunday on my way to my lax games.

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James Dougherty
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14 years ago

I scouted this creek yesterday and on the secound half, past Hacklebarney park, along side Black River Road, just a few yards before the gauging station (which is on river right, a few feet from black river road)there is a rope or wire going completly across the river with a NO TRESSPASSING sign on it.Physically, even at high water, Idought it would be a problem but perhaps someone dosn't think you belong there? Also anyone this river for the first time you would want to get out a little after that gauging station once you see house on river right because there is a falls,make sure you scout this. I got heart but I wouldn't do it, not yet that is.I would venture to say you realy need to know what you are doing to make it down safly. I plan on taking out before the falls.

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Stephen Strange
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14 years ago

Unless it has been replaced in the last few months (I'll go check on it soon), the sign above the gauging station is the same one which has been there for years. It's indicated on my guide map, but isn't in-play and can be ducked under unless the water is extremely high. (If it was low enough to decapitate people, it would have disappeared years ago, thanks to my hacksaw) As for the "falls" after the house on river right, unless there's been some major geologic activity that I'm unaware of, this rapid consists of a 2-3'ledge with a small eddy below it on the left, followed by a 4'ledge, immediately followed by a slide to the left which drops about another 3-4', which pools/pillows back to the right (now downstream) and drops another 3-4' feet or so. I refer to this rapid as "Nasty Rapid" on my map because of the upleasant looking rock at the finish in low water. It is best to scout it from river left. I have run every inch of this run a number of times and though I wish there was a 20ft falls, I haven't found it yet.

Gage Descriptions

The onsite gauge is the staff gauge of the USGS gauging station (on Black River Rd.). It is on river right, at the crest of the gauging station weir. You may have to bush wack through about 5' of brush to get a look at it.

Ed Gertler's book lists 2.3' (on the gauge on Black River Rd. upstream from Pottersville) as minimum. I've run it at that level and I would list 2.4' (160 cfs - ed.) as minimum, with 2.5-3.0' (200-400) as optimal and over 3' very exciting.

I ran it at 3.3' (800cfs?) and the constricted mini-gorge at the end was "interesting". Scout on the left.



The primary gauge: the LAMINGTON (BLACK) RIVER NEAR POTTERSVILLE NJ should be over 2.4'. If it is over 3' then you're in for treat.

 



Secondary Gauge: South Br. Raritan River at High Bridge (USGS # 01396500) should be at 7.6'/460cfs.

 

Directions Description


Put-in-

There are three put-in options: If you want to run the whole thing, put in either at the Cooper Grist Mill on Rt. 24, or at the fishing access to the pond on State Park Rd.(as shown on the map). If you only want to run the second half, you can put in where Hacklebarney Rd. crosses the river.

The first half is more bang for your buck if you don't have a whole day.

you can scout in Hacklebarney St. Pk. and the rangers have told me that you can paddle through with no problems, but don't try to put-in inside of Hacklebarney!

There is a lot of private land around here and lots of fisherman in the spring (especially the first few weeks in April) So, as is generally the rule, try to access where the road is very close to the creek (a few feet) or where a bridge crosses.

Take out- You can take out where Hacklebarney Rd. crosses the river (to just do the top section) or at the gauging station on Black River Rd., or all the way at the end at the Pottersville Deli

Click on the small map to see the larger, more detailed map.

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Stephen Strange

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1193506 09/29/08 Stephen Strange
1197589 04/22/10 Stephen Strange
1214681 04/13/20 Stephen Strange updated description
1215087 05/30/20 Stephen Strange updated description