The meat of this short reach is the Yondota Falls sequence, which lies about a quarter mile downstream from the put-in. The Presque Isle tumbles 52' in a third of a mile (~156 FPM equivalent gradient!) through an interesting and varied series of drops. While this reach is located quite a distance upstream of the more popular or well known classic sections of the Presque, the river is still fair sized here and has some power.
Driving to the put-in, the Presque is a calm, meandering river, visible to the right. This soon changes after the river passes beneath the put-in bridge. The current quickens and some light whitewater develops as the river makes a turn to the right. There is a small initial drop and just below, the river constricts considerably next to a river-left rock outcropping and drops away. Get out to scout on the right. There is a 8'-10' vertical falls here that drops into a narrow slot. The hydraulic at the base very powerful and potentially dangerous, backed-up by a spline of rock which splits the already narrow channel below in two. There is a secondary channel to the right which may allow one to bypass the bad hole and drop in downstream at higher flows.
Following this falls, the river spreads out again and enters a series of technical boulderbed ledge drops (3'-5') with only a few eddies in between. Wood collects here but there are generally multiple clean routes. Some of the routes work, and some aren't so pretty, so it may be best to scout the entire sequence beforehand. The run-out from the last of these ledges is the lead-in to the final drop, a bouldery medium-angle cascade of about 12'-15'. Again, there are multiple lines and some may hurt. Below here are some waves and a hole in the run-out. The remaining distance to the listed take-out may hold some lighter whitewater. One could do a shuttle-less run here by simply running to the bottom of the falls sequence and carrying back up the river right trail but it's probably easier to just float down to the listed take-out.
Yondota Falls may be found by turning north off of Hwy 2 in Marenisco on Cty 523 (Copps Mine Rd) and driving north for about 3.25 miles. The shuttle here is simple. From the put-in bridge, continue north following the main road and bearing to the left until reaching the river.
Philippe Damiano reports:Andy Lovering, Erik Strahler, and Chris Arnold ran this section at 1.24ft. The falls was the highlight, but the rest of the section was good. Desperate paddlers might find refuge running laps on this section if everything else is too low.
Note: There is about 16 miles of low gradient river from this (listed take-out of this upper section) to the next listed section of this river (Underwood Tower Rd to Steigers Bridge).
USGS lists a sampling site in Marenisco citing drainage area of 171 square miles at that point.
Paddlers intent on the heavy action may wish to just carry back upstream from here (and possibly 'do laps'). Otherwise it may be just as easy to continue the float downstream to the next bridge. Reports are that it is a worthwhile float.
The following video from a drone overflight gives a fine bottom-to-top view of the falls sequence:
Tony Catania and I ran this section at 155cfs on 6/20/15. Yondota Falls is very do-able (for an intermediate/advanced skilled whitewater kayaker with the appropriate gear) at this level. However, I would still suggest having a safety crew unless you are well versed in running falls. One safety person my be sufficient for retrieving the boater, but their gear will likely be washed well down river by the time you get to retrieve it or lost. A well placed boof stroke is advised. The slot is mostly flushy unless you land river left in the five 4-5ft wide slot below Yondota Falls. Their is a brief pool with a few large stone protrusions that you can climb up on if you swim. We did not notice any under cuts on the stone just beyond the pool(not to say an undercut does or doesn't exist). The rest of the run is pretty straight forward and fun. As the write up recommends scout the section before running it. If you have a sufficient sized crew, then you could play "Molly Move-up" a few times at Yondota Falls before running the rest of the section. As the write up notes the take out is only a mile and a half down river and well worth the short paddle instead of carrying out after your last lap.
The primary gauge for this reach is on the Presque Isle, but lies 13.6 miles downstream of this reach. One rather substantial tributary (the Little Presque Isle) and a few lesser tribs contribute their flow downstream of this reach but upstream of the gauge. As a result, gauge flow will overstate flow in this reach, sometimes quite significantly. Also, this Presque Isle gauge was only recently brought back online, so we do not have any info on how flows may correspond to runnability. All flow/runnability ranges are therefor tentative at this time. We need your input! If you run this river, add a comment or report stating the flow and your comments about how good/bad the run was at that flow.
* Secondary gauge referenced is on the Black (the next major watershed to the west), whose drainage area above its gauge (200 sq.mi.) is very comparable to that of the Presque above this reach. Watersheds are close, parallel and relatively similar in nature. Max/min are estimates.
With both gauges, be aware that they will not be completely accurate. (The reach may be reported 'runnable' at times when it is not, and vice-versa.)
Visual inspection of the falls sequence by walking a quarter mile down the river right trail from the put-in is recommended.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Air Time at Yondota
Chris Arnold Below Falls
Yondota Falls Section
Erik Strahler Yondota Falls Exit
Erik Strahler Yondota Falls
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