Popolopen Brook, New York, US
|Usual Difficulty||V (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||200 fpm|
|Max Gradient||300 fpm|
|Ramapo River near Mahwah NJ|
|usgs-01387500||700 - 2000 cfs||V||01h11m||40.6 cfs (too low)|
First of all, a comment on the claimed first descent in '02. There are rumors that Eric Nies (of Nies' Pieces fame on the Green) regularly paddled this creek solo back when he was a med student in NYC, which would place the actual first descent sometime about a decade prior, although I don't know for certain. Regardless of who was the first, it is seeing considerably more traffic of late, and why not? This is most likely the best Class V run in Southern NY and New England. It is short, but action-packed with such a variety of outstanding whitewater that I can hardly justify going anywhere else when it is running, which happens to be a lot. After four runs in a weekend at a perfect flow, I spent Sunday night dreaming vividly of the Popolopen. Its twisting chutes, dynamic boofs, and endless boulder gardens are enough to satisfy even the most discerning gradient seekers. Despite all of this, the run is very dangerous. Sieves, undercuts, and strainers are an ever-present factor. Expect to spend about three hours to safely pick your way down the creek if it's your first run.
Downstate New York Area Reaches
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.0||Upstream of the Hiker's Bridge||IV|
|0.3||Hungry Hungry Hippos||5.0|
|0.3||Chutes and Ladders||5.2|
|1.0||Lots of Boogie Water||IV+|
Hike up river left about one quarter mile past the hiker's bridge for some Class IV warm up. The best putin is at a small dam/ledge drop. If you feel off your game here, it is highly recommended that you drag your boat and your ego back to the car because the next half mile is a full step up. Alternatively, you can cut out the most intimidating whitewater by carrying from the hiker's bridge about a quarter mile down the trail on river left and then bushwhacking back down to river level above Candyland. You will be able to see the river below you for most of the portage until a dense copse of evergreens obscures your view. After the foliage opens up, begin descending down to the river.
After a hundred feet of Class III below the hiker's bridge, grab an eddy on river left and scout this rapid carefully. It begins with a five foot angled ledge right next to a massive logjam. About 25 feet downstream, the river constricts into a 5 foot wide slot backed up by a cave on the left (the hippo's mouth) and a rock on the right, with most of the water recirculating back into a very sticky hole, necessitating a perfectly executed boof. The approach is fast and deceptively tricky, too.The boater in the picture is running the bottom half of Hungry Hungry Hippos. You can see the constriction just upstream.
This is a very steep series of twisting passages through and around large boulders. The whole rapid is about 100 yards in length and drops around 60 feet. After snaking through some pushy boulder gardens, the river drops steeply through a chute on river right and then immediately over a ledge rife with pinning hazards. It is a popular option to portage this part of the drop and put in above a fifteen foot clean ledge with a fast approach rapid. The drop ends in a pretty large and swirly pool. The view upstream from the pool is quite impressive as the steepness of the rapid is hard to comprehend from above.
Check out this video
This is three somewhat distinct sections of boulder gardens and ledges with eddies in between each. Depending on the wood situation and water level, all or none may be runnable, hence the name Sorry! The first section begins immediately below Chutes and Ladders. The line is on the left and ends with a challenging ledge drop that can either be run center left clearing a hole and piton rock or snuck center right by catching an eddy in the center of the main flow upstream of the ledge. Good eddies left and right below the ledge. The middle part is a pretty straightforward series of moves into an eddy on river left. The final move is over another ledge with some nasty pin rocks on the right and a good clean boof on center left, followed by some run out and then a couple of big eddies before Candyland starts.
My favorite rapid on the run. From the large eddy below Sorry! you will see a huge boulder obstructing most of the rivers flow with options left or right of the boulder to setup for the main part of the rapid. The river constricts against another big boulder along the left bank and quickly drops over a sticky five foot ledge. Immediately downstream is a second boof best run on the left, unless it is high when you can go crashing through a huge curler on the right to miss the hole. Eddy out on either side. Three more boofs follow in succession below.
After some short boogie, the river splits around an island and drops steeply on both sides. This rapid is easily portaged on river right. A line exists in the left channel but it is manky. The lead in drop holds pin potential as well, and the exit drop resembles "Go Left" on the Green.
The half mile below Concentration is mostly boat scoutable boulder gardens separated by comfortable pools. Some of the drops are pretty dense and may require some creativity to find the best flow at lower levels, but everything can be run pretty clean if you know where to go and there is no wood. When you reach the backwater behind a large, stone dam get out on the right to portage the dam along a hiker's trail.
One of the most visually spectacular rapids in the Northeast. Hell Hole looks like Crystal on the Bottom Moose on steroids. An upstream view of the whole rapid is framed by a large, stone dam that was built in the 18th Century. Below the dam, the constricted river pushes over a few back to back ledges before plummeting over a 20 foot waterfall into a massive recirculating cauldron spraying water 50 feet up into the air. Hell Hole has been run, but most normal people will portage.