Elk Creek, Pennsylvania, US
|Usual Difficulty||I(II) (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||21 fpm|
|Max Gradient||27 fpm|
|Walnut Creek Upstream Pool, near Erie, PA|
|usgs-04213152||5.10 - 10.00 ft||I(II)||00h51m||3.66 ft (too low)|
First 2.4 miles: Class II
Last 2.1 miles: Class I
This run is broken into two halves. The first half is much like Upper Elk Creek except wider causing it to require a little higher level than the upper section. There is a painted gauge on a West Road bridge pier on the right side of the river at the intersection with 832 in the PA Fish and Boat Commission Access area. This gauge is in increments of .25 ft. If it is reading a little over 1 ft, you will have just enough water for this run to be worth it. Shortly below Sterrettania the run goes from an intimate stream to river characteristics. The rapids are just as big as Upper Elk, but much more open. Middle Elk is suitable for almost any boat but is ideal for rafts. It is also possible to canoe this section making it one of the only runs in the area with Class II rapids suitable for canoeing.
There are a lot of nice ledges and surfing possibilities packed into a short stretch in the Sterrettania area. About .75 miles below the put-in there is a nice 4 ft drop (Peffer Falls.) It is very similar to Sterrettania Falls on Upper Elk and is also very boney even when the level is well above the minimum recommended level. From here the run grudually becomes more tame but more scenic and remote. There is a beautiful waterfall on a sidestream that enters river left.
The run is very tame below the Streutchen Flats except for one good sized riffle about .5 miles downstream and a couple of nice surf waves just upstream from Route 98.
There is an access area mid run in a place called the Streuchen Flats. It is a bit difficult to find if you are not familiar with the area. It is at a dead end on Elk Valley Road. If you pull out of the PA Fish and Boat Commission Access Area and go South on Route 832 for about 1 mile it will be on the left. To get to the full length take-out, keep going on South on Route 832 until you come to a stop sign at the intersection of Route 98. Turn left and go down the hill about .4 miles. Just after crossing the river you will see Folly's End Campground on the right-hand side. Pull in and park along the hill going down to the campground. It is a short walk to the river. You can park closer to the river by paying a small fee at the campground.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|2.4||Streutchen Flats Access||I|
|4.5||Folly's End Campground||I|
Put in on the right side of the river on West Road. There is a PA Fish and Boat Commission Access parking lot. Be sure to have current boat registration if you put in there.
This deep rapid features some of the tallest standing waves on Elk. There is a nice wave train on the left side. If you using the Middle Elk put in, be sure to ferry over to the left side where all the action is. This rapid is extremely close to the put in.
This is a wide, steep, short ledge. It can be shallow even when there is plenty of water. The deep route is on the very far left, but if this section is running well, go center and it is a little more interesting. You can surf here for hours and this hole is big! The river is about 50 or 60 feet across, with the hole almost all the way across.
This is a long rapid with a wide ledge that tends to be shallow. It can be identified by the abandoned bridge pillars on both sides of the river. The deepest route is on the right side and has nice standing waves at the bottom of the ledge. When the water is high there can be some good surfing about 200 yards below this rapid.
There is plenty of room to park at the bottom of the hill in a flat meadow. The best place to access the river is to go straight through the meadow after comming down the hill to the most downstream point of the parking area in the meadow. You can park about 10 yards away from the river and the bank is not very steep there. Do not be afraid of the unpaved road leading down to this access area. Unless it's extremely wet or there is a lot of snow, you won't get stuck. No need for a 4x4, even my 4 cylinder doesn't have any trouble down there.
Park on the hill leading down to the campground or pay a small fee and park down by the water.