Esopus Creek - 2) Allaben Portal to Phoenicia

Esopus Creek, New York, US


2) Allaben Portal to Phoenicia

Usual Difficulty II-III (for normal flows)
Length 5.4 Miles

DEC Wave

DEC Wave
Photo by Fantumboater taken 09/15/05 @ 600 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01362500 5.00 - 8.00 ft II-III 00h18m 4.39 ft (too low)

River Description

The portal in Allaben is where water from the Schoharie Reservoir is piped into the Esopus to transport to the Ashokan Reservoir. About 1/2 mile down from this put-in is a left-hand turn with many trees along the right bank. These trees claimed the life of a private tuber and a kayaker in the summer of 2002. They are easily avoidable but one must be aware of this danger.

The tubing companies and most locals put in at the fishing access next to the cemetary that one passes on the way to the portal. Immediately downstream of the cemetery put-in there is a large strainer on river left and, as of September 2015, the river right channel is blocked by two fallen trees. A 14-year-old tuber died after becoming trapped under a strainer here over labor day weekend 2015. The strainers can be avoided via a small boatable channel by the island river center. 

From the cemetary access you get right into the first playspot called "Cartwheel Hole" which is a double squirtline separated by a large boulder in the center of the river. Mystery moves have been gotten here by squirt boaters between 5.5 and 6 ft.

From here it's more of a technical class II+ with some surf-on-the-fly waves and squirt-lines always different depending on levels.
At the junction of the woodland valley stream is the class III "Tenderizer" hole (rarely playable but fun to try), the railroad wave (class II surf), and then Railroad Rapid (III) which is the site of the slalom races held here. Many boaters get out here, about 3 miles down from the portal. The next significant rapids occur as you enter Phoenecia.

After the Phoenecia bridge, the third bridge from the put-in, is Elmer's Bend, a class III+ rapid with many different characteristics depending in the level. If you scout on the fly I recommend going right of the predominant boulder in the center, and then either left to right thru the rock garden or straight thru river right and over a little drop. This drop-route is better at higher levels. There is a take-out a little ways below Elmer's, or continue on to the parking area on Rte. 28 near the Catskill Corners Kaleidoscope. Some boaters, especially canoists, may opt to continue another 5 miles to Boiceville although there are considerably more flat sections.




Catskills Area Reaches

Basic Creek                               Batavia Kill                                    Bear Kill 

Beaver Kill (Delaware Trib)       Beaver Kill (Hudson Trib)              Beer Kill 

Beer Kill, W. Branch                  Bowery Creek                                Bush Kill 

Callicoon Creek, E. Branch       Callicoon Creek, N. Branch           Catskill Creek (1.) 

Catskill Creek (2.)                     Catskill Creek (4.)                          Claverack Creek 

Coxing Kill                                 Delaware                                       Delaware, E. Branch 

Delaware, W. Branch                Little Delaware                               Dry Brook 

East Kill                                     Esopus Creek (1)                           Esopus Creek (2) 

Esopus Creek (3)                      Esopus Creek (4)                           Esopus Creek (5) 

Hannacrois Creek                     Kaaterskill Creek (1.)                     Kaaterskill Creek (2.) 

Kinderhook Creek  (3.)              Kiskatom Creek                             Mombaccus Creek 

Mill Brook                                   Neversink (1.)                               Neversink, E. Branch 

Neversink, W. Branch                 Peters Kill                                     Platte Kill 

Plattekill Creek                            Potic Creek                                  Roeliff Jansen Kill (1) 

Roeliff Jansen Kill (2)                  Rochester Creek                          Rondout Creek (1) 

Rondout Creek (2)                     Rondout Creek (3)                        Sandburg Creek 

Saw Kill (1)                                 Saw Kill (2)                                    Saw Kill (3) 

Schoharie Creek (1.)                  Schoharie Creek (2.)                    Shingle Kill Creek 

Squirmer Creek                          Stony Clove Creek                        Ten Mile Creek 

Thorp Creek                               Tremper Kill                                   Wallkill 

West Kill                                      Woodland Creek                            Vly Creek 


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New York Whitewater Paddlers Facebook Group

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-04-21 17:53:42


Stream team editor

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0No Name
1.0Cemetery Put-InN/APutin
1.0River Left StrainerN/AHazard
4.5Elmer's BendIII+
5.4Anglers' Parking TakeoutN/ATakeout

Rapid Descriptions

No Name
In the fall on 2003 the dep did extensive work at the confluence with woodland valley, redirectin the river away from an eroding bank with a perpetual strainer. As a result, storms which shortly followed removed the popular bridge wave.

Cemetery Put-In (Class N/A, Mile 1.0)

This is an alternative put-in 1mile downstream of the portal with good parking and river access. It avoids some of the dangerous strainers on the early section. 

River Left Strainer (Class N/A, Mile 1.0)

Dangerous pile of logs forms a large strainer on river left after the cemetery put-in. The fastest current sweeps under it. 

Anglers' Parking Takeout (Class N/A, Mile 5.4)

Alternative takeout on Route 40 (Mt-Tremper-Phoenicia Rd) that adds 1mile to the run. There is space for four or five vehicles in the anglers' parking here.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 25 2018 (242 days ago)
mshmovie (150511)
May 25, 2018: Please make a note of the current wood in the Esopus Creek at the Woodland Valley
Bridge and avoid it. Information can be found on this web page for this location and others: Spread the word and share. Esopus Creek - New
England Slalom Series/Recreational Release -10/7-8/2017 Approved Hi Folks, The recreational
whitewater release on The Esopus Creek for New England Slalom Series/Recreational Release
-10/7-8/2017 has been approved. Please note that there are downed trees blocking the part of
channel below Phoenicia that should be avoidable by anyone with reasonable skills; reports from
prior trips confirm this. I've posted details here: Excercise judgement to ensure you paddle
within your own limits. (Take note of the NY Constitutional Convention Page while you visit this
site too.) My working group has agreed on a protocol for managing wood in streams that yeilds a
determination to 1) remove wood that's a threat to safety and ifrastructure and 2) maintain wood
that's good for the eco system. The trees referenced above are deemed a safety hazard that have no
beneft to the habitat. Over the next few months we hope to identify how to complete the protocol;
act on removing the wood deemed a safety hazard and hopefully identify a source of funding and
group willing to remove the trees with those funds. Stay tuned for updates as I have them, Enjoy
the creek for me as I continue to focus on improving my back and hip health. Best Regards, Marc
August 30 2017 (510 days ago)
mshmovie (150511)
Esopus Creek - Labor Day Weekend / Shandaken Whitewater Weekend -9/2-4/2017 - Update Hi Folks,
Here's a nice update from Brenan that should provide prime conditions on the creek: "I'm requesting
a maximum flow through the Shandaken Portal. At the current baseflows and reservoir storage level,
that should result in a Coldbrook flow just around 900 cfs, maybe a little less (~885 cfs)." Have a
great time and let me know how your trips were. Best Regards, Marc
August 21 2017 (519 days ago)
mshmovie (150511)
Hi Folks, The recreational whitewater release on The Esopus Creek for Labor Day Weekend / Shandaken
Whitewater Weekend 9/2-4/2017 has been approved. Please note that there are downed trees blocking
the part of channel below Phoenicia that should be avoidable by anyone with reasonable skills. I've
posted details here: Exercise judgement to
ensure you paddle within your own limits. (Take note of the NY Constitutional Convention Page while
you visit this site too.) My working group has agreed on a protocol for managing wood in streams
that yields a determination to 1) remove wood that's a threat to safety and infrastructure and 2)
maintain wood that's good for the ecosystem. The trees referenced above are deemed a safety hazard
that have no benefit to the habitat. Over the next few months we hope to identify how to complete
the protocol; act on removing the wood deemed a safety hazard. Stay tuned for updates as I have
them, Best Regards, Marc Hollander
July 13 2017 (557 days ago)
mshmovie (150511)
Tree Down River Left - Below Phoenicia about 1,000 feet downstream of The Phoenicia Diner Esopus
Creek Tree Down info, including pictures, can be found here: Please be aware that there's a tree down on
river left about 1,000 feet downstream of The Phoenicia Diner. At release levels, it "should" be
passable on river right (based on my judgement from the railroad tracks, there appears to be a flat
section of bank on river right by the tree that's not obstructed). Please proceed with care.
July 11 2017 (560 days ago)
mshmovie (150511)
There will be a recreational whitewater release this Saturday, July 15th, on the Esopus Creek;
there will not be any recreational release levels on Sunday. This is in the spirit of this year's
release request stating: Additionally, we'd gladly welcome any discussions to ensure a good balance
between all the needs your balancing ; we would appreciate a call if there are any challenges we
might partner to address that might lead to a positive disposition for a modified recreational
release. This was motivated by uncertainty in the cold water model caused by accumulated sediment
in Schoharie Reservoir. It's rare to get a release approved in July, and a single day's release is
a good outcome for recreational access for whitewater use and in consideration of the environment's
dependency on the cold water reserves. While it would be ideal to have received approval earlier to
facilitate planning and ensure a robust turnout, we'll work towards getting disposition two weeks
prior to the requested dates as per a conversation I had with Brenan consistent with the spirit of
this excerpt from the release request: We look forward to receiving a confirmation of these dates
as soon as you're able to provide them; plans and financial commitments are dependent on the NYS
DEC's timely disposition on these requests. This disposition is reflected on: The NYS DEC Page
here: The Town Tinker Website here: KCCNY's Forum Will be reflected on the Facebook
pages of AMC and KCCNY Will be added to American Whitewater's Esopus Creek page specific to the
section of the river below the portal Enjoy the creek. Best Regards, Marc
August 30 2016 (874 days ago)
mshmovie (150511)
Esopus Creek Recreational Whitewater Release for September 3rd Through 5th 2016 declined: Marc,
Unfortunately, the Department cannot support your request for an enhanced water release on Labor
Day Weekend (September 3rd-5th, 2016). The cold water volume in Schoharie Reservoir was depleted in
early August and the water temperatures in the Esopus Creek have been elevated all month long. The
attached graph shows that the minimum temperature at the Coldbrook gage has frequently been above
70F during August creating a stressful environment for trout and other aquatic life. Graph of DAILY
Temperature, water, degrees Celsius An increased diversion of warm water from the Shandaken Portal
at this time would reduce the cooling effect of low nighttime air temperatures which will hopefully
provide needed relief to fish. Please let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to
corresponding with you regarding the requested October event. Sincerely, Brenan Learn more about
reservoir releases in New York State: Brenan Tarrier
Environmental Engineer I, Division of Water New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway - 4th Floor, Albany, NY 12233
August 5 2016 (899 days ago)
mshmovie (150511)
DANGER!!! Do not boat the Esopus Creek Downstream of the Bridge Street Bridge in Phoenicia. There's
a river wide strainer at the entrance to the rapids adjacent to Uncle Pete's Campground. There is
no portage option on either bank and the NYS DEC access points below Elmer's have man made debris
obstructions. A team of us are coordinating efforts to assess the blockage, try to get it removed
and get adequate communications out to the community on the web as well as with signage. Please
keep looking at these pages for updates (hopefully before the Shandaken Whitewater Weekend release
planned for September 3-5, 2016). Please don't explore this section by boat; don't become a
casualty. Do enjoy the river above Bridge Street (many reported clear boating from the Portal down,
but the safest part to boat is where The Town Tinker Operates).
June 3 2016 (963 days ago)
mshmovie (150511)
Facilitate Better Recreational Opportunities on the Creek DEC Urges Users to Exercise Caution and
Care While Enjoying the Creek The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP)
will be conducting a DEC approved recreational release for the lower Esopus Creek this weekend to
provide additional flows for recreational activities on the creek, including tubing and kayaking.
The additional flow will start at 6:00 p.m. on Friday (6/3) and will continue through Sunday (6/5)
afternoon. DEC reminds everyone to have fun and enjoy the creek but as always be careful, wear your
personal floatation devices (PFDs) and take advantage of the numerous private guides and vendors
that offer recreational boating and tubing services on the Esopus Creek. DEC's Allaben fishing
access site will be open for fishing but be advised that this is not a suitable location for
launching tubes or kayaks and boaters should find an appropriate location downstream to launch.
Anglers and other creek users should be cautious due to the high flows, and obey all appropriate
signs and restrictions. ### Connect with DEC on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube Wendy Rosenbach
Regional Citizen Participation Specialist, Office of Communication Services New York State
Department of Environmental Conservation 21 South Putt Corners Road, New Paltz, NY 12561 P:
845-256-3018 | F: 518-255-3042 | |
cid:image002.gif@01D01928.215FD820 | cid:image001.gif@01D01927.D33C0790
June 1 2016 (964 days ago)
mshmovie (150511)
Hi Folks, As Andy announced, the Esopus Creek release for the weekend of June 4th & 5th has been
approved. Shandaken Rural Cemetery Put In: * Please do not use it or anything upstream of it * The
DEC posted signs warning against whitewater use at this location * As you likely know, there was a
loss of life in the strainer that existed just below the Sandakan Rural Cemetery DEC Parking lot
Labor Day weekend 2015 * While this strainer was removed, there are downed trees blocking Cartwheel
(the boulder that splits the creek) The DEC is understandably sensitive to safety hazards, as such,
please put in no further up stream than where The Town Tinker puts in: *'30.3%22N+74%C2%B020'00.9%22W/@42.0918304,-74.3353653,629m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m6!3m5!1s0x0000000000000000:0xc5530f2e5fd8e5a5!7e2!8m2!3d42.091742!4d-74.3335927
* When using this access point, please be considerate of The Town Tinker's operation and park in
the west part of the lot to avoid obstructing the bus. Please share this info with anyone else you
see using the river this weekend. Enjoy the release and do be safe. Regards, Marc Hollander
Co-Chair Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program's Rescreational Stream Access Committee KCCNY
River Stewardship Board Member
June 12 2015 (1319 days ago)
mshmovie (150511)
2015 Release Dates Requested from the NYS DEC as follows: June 6-7, 2015 - Done/Well attended July
18-19, 2015 Sept. 5- 7, 2015 Oct. 3-4, 2015 Please note that the all releases are typically
approved with the possible exception of the July release (dependent on cold water reserves).
Requests and approval status may be viewed here:
June 12 2015 (1319 days ago)
mshmovie (150511)
This is current as of June 1st, 2015 (reported by Harry at The Town Tinker): ATTENTION: A large
tree has fallen off the bank approximately 1/2 mile below the Esopus Creek access point at the
Shandaken Cemetery. The tree has fallen from the river left side and is blocking 3/4 of the main
stem of the creek. With the scheduled Recreational Release for the coming weekend I wanted to make
everyone aware of the potential danger as soon as possible. I was made aware of the situation this
afternoon from one of our neighbors who lives on Herdman Road and as well as making the Esopus
Creek white water user community aware of the problem I have also notified the Town Of Shandaken
and The Ulster County Water Rescue Team. As well as this strainer there are others at the Cemetery
access point (river left) which were created by the flood of 2005 as well as below it that have
existed since 2014 which also pose a threat.
April 30 2012 (2457 days ago)
baldoam (151663)
Scouted on 4/28/12 That railroad track strainer does indeed look bad. It extends all the way across
the main channel under the Rte 28 bridge. Upstream of it is a tree across the same channel. The
alternative channel looked too bony to even run. Recommend next person going out there consider
bringing a chainsaw to clear up the woody things. An acetylene torch or something like that will be
necessary to deal with the metal. Overall ugly looking run; the parts we scouted looked shallow and
bony. The creekbed has been scoured and flattened out compared with pre-Irene levels, and the banks
are covered high with lots and lots of dead wood.
April 12 2012 (2476 days ago)
brett gehrkeDetails
Paddled the Esopus 4/10/12. The channel has been a couple hundred yards down from the portal. It
now flows in the old right channel (along the railroad tracks) on the west side of island opposite
the graveyard/angler parking put in. There is a tree on the far end of the channel that blocks the
main part of the flow. Beware! Under the route 28 bridge there is a long and nasty piece of
railroad track that runs across the width of the creek. This strainer has some potentially nasty
consequences. There is a possibility of being pinned. There is a slight drop just before that could
force the nose of your kayak under the track. It happened to my partner. His boat went under and he
forced his way over the top. I was just able to get over the top.
May 15 2010 (3173 days ago)
Larry (151839)
Paddled from the Allaben Portal to Boiceville today, 5/15/10. The reading was 5.7 on the Coldbrook
guage, this was a nice level with plenty of room to maneuver and lots of good sized waves and
holes. There was a river-wide strainer, just a short distance downstream from the Portal. It is
fairly obvious, and it was easy to get out in time to carry around it. However, shortly after
Elmer's Turn, right at The Sleepy Hollow Campground, there was a large (oak?) tree. This very
dangerous strainer can be seen from well upstream, but if you get too close to it on river right,
you will have no chance to avoid it! The tree extends from the right bank to nearly all the way
across. Plan to pass it as far left as possible if there is enough water, otherwise you will have
to walk around it on river left.
May 23 2009 (3531 days ago)
ed clevelandDetails
The tree strainers below the Woodlawn Valley Bridge just before the RT. 28 Bridge have been
cleared, the rootball is on river left.
April 29 2009 (3555 days ago)
x (1)
There Is a VERY dangerous Sieve in the middle of this run that we ecountered with a group of
cornell students this past weekend. the level was around 5.3 and I believe the sieve would be a
hazard anywhere below 6.0 feet and possibly higher. The sieve is located at the top of the rapid
that takes a sharp bend with the cement culvert on the river left hand bank. It is directly in the
center of the river formed by a visible medium sized block shaped rock that at 5.3 was about 10
inches above water and a diagonal triangular rock that is barely visible. In this case a student
was broached against the block rock and pushed into the sieve bow first resulting in a vertical
pin. Luckily at this level the student was able to hop out of the boat, and the boat was removed
with a vector line but barely. a bad entry angle or more water could certainly result in a very bad
situation and I believe with any more water that a boat would not be removed without mechanical
advantage in the form of a z-drag or piggy-back system. BE CAREFUL! I will post pictures soon.
April 28 2009 (3556 days ago)
Matt MuirDetails
(Note: the strainer described in this comment has apparently been removed, per a later comment.) In
addition to the strainer by the railroad rapids(left channel under the bridge), I spotted a second
one during our 4/28/2009 run at 1160cfs. That one is in the middle channel under the bridge right
after Elmer's. It is a dark metal bridge as much as I remember. It looked like a 3 -4 feet long
wave/hole combo and I thought I found a gem to play a bit more but the more I approached I realized
that it was a tree burried under water. I was able to go over it but at lower levels it could be a
hazard. I did not have a chance to go back and scout it in detail. My friends used the river left
channel and had no issues.
April 14 2009 (3570 days ago)
ed clevelandDetails
The strainer that Jon is talking about is just ABOVE Railroad Rapids, right below the downstream
side of the Woodlawn Valley Bridge. It takes up the whole left side to the center column of the
April 14 2009 (3570 days ago)
Jon OllendorfDetails
Strainer located just below Railroad Rapids on 4-12-2009. It crosses most of the creek. To scout
the rapid, go NW on Route 28 from Phoenicia to Woodland Valley Road. Strainer can be seen on left
side of bridge.
November 23 2008 (3712 days ago)
x (1)
As of late 2007 there are a few river-wide logs between the portal and the cemetery access. We've
been able to paddle over them with no difficulty, but the farther upstream you are the more
attention you should devote to logs and strainers. I'd also suggest that a maximum level of 8 feet
on the Cold Brook guage is a bit conservative. Last October we made a high water run and the guage
was at 9.6' (about 6000 cfs) when we passed it. Things were fast and pushy, with lots of very big
waves, but not much more difficult than at more typical levels. Official flood stage is at 11', but
at any high level you should be extra vigilant for new strainers as well as moving logs and
May 8 2006 (4641 days ago)
Eric NiesDetails
5/8/06: Local boaters reported a riverwide strainer near the putin:
"Approximately 1/2 mile downstream from the Portal is large log (strainer) blocking the entire
creek. Two of my friends failed to eddy out above it and flipped. They were washed through but this
is a serious safety hazard for anyone that puts in at the Portal."
Anyone having more info, please add a comment here.