Beer Kill, New York, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV-V(V+) (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||140 fpm|
|RONDOUT CREEK AT ROSENDALE NY|
|usgs-01367500||11.00 - 16.00 ft||IV-V(V+)||01h45m||8.94 ft (too low)|
The Beer Kill flows through a steep, wooded gorge in the Southern Catskills. It is predominantly
Class IV/IV+ ledge drop boating interspersed with some easier boogie water between the larger
drops. Most people will want to portage three times. The portages, coupled with the depth and
apparent remoteness of the gorge, create a wilderness feel that is unique to the region and seem
to make the portages more tolerable, if not enjoyable.
The beginning of the run is slow-going with a likely portage of the second rapid, immediately below the put-in bridge. This one is a narrow toaster slot that has wood stuffed in an undercut on the right side. After a couple of notable drops, the most significant of which is a 5 foot boof onto a slide, you'll need to be heads up for a horizon line which indicates Hanging Rock Falls. Pull out on the left. Rumor has it that the first 20 footer has been run, but shortly below are two even bigger drops, of which the final one drops at least 30 feet onto rock. Walk on the left and take time to admire the spectacular three- tiered falls. The Beer Kill has a very intimate feel and Hanging Rock Falls, at a total height of close to 100 feet, adds significantly to the character of the river, despite being a rather cumbersome carry. To re-enter the river, it might be necessary to lower boats down because of the steepness of the gorge; the loose dirt and rock make finding sturdy footing somewhat difficult. But your efforts will be rewarded with a mile of excellent paddling. The drops are comfortably spaced, but there are a few places where you can feel a bit of tilt to the riverbed. Scout the horizon lines and be prepared for the very real possibility of a strainer in an inopportune place. Be VERY heads up on this run for wood. A final portage will probably be required towards the end of the gorge. This 20 footer has been run, but the landing is shallow and should be scouted carefully. The portage is on the left and is reasonably strenuous, but still seems to be the preferable mode of transportation. One other rapid deserves mention on this run. Shortly after the portage around Hanging Rock Falls is a rapid marked by a boulder in the center. The left side of this rapid has a dangerous sieve and the right side has an undercut. The rapid is not particularly difficult but warrants caution.
The Beer Kill can be found by heading west from the town of Ellenville on Rte. 52. Follow the river upstream and make a right onto County Road 53 and park in a small turn-out a few hundred feet downstream of the confluence with the West Branch of the Beer Kill (a short, roadside Class 4/5 section). From the take-out, follow 53 upstream along the West Branch until it rejoins Rte. 52. You will stay on 52 for a very short time before making a right back onto 53. Follow 53 uphill for a couple of miles and then make a right onto Marcus Road, which at the time of this writing is not denoted by a road sign, but will be the only right hand turn fitting the description. Go with your instincts and you will soon find yourself crossing a bridge over the Beer Kill which is the put- in.
Catskills Area Reaches
Downstate New York Area Reaches
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.4||Hanging Rock Falls (First Drop)||5.3|
|0.5||Hanging Rock Falls (Final Drops)||5.3|
|0.8||First Big Drop after the Carry||5.0|
|0.9||Lots of Great Boogie Water||IV+|
|2.0||Ignorance is Bliss||5.2|