Lamson Run - Branchville to Shadduck Road

Lamson Run, Pennsylvania, US


Branchville to Shadduck Road

Usual Difficulty III-IV (for normal flows)
Length 2.2 Miles
Avg. Gradient 47 fpm
Max Gradient 53 fpm

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Brandy Run near Girard, PA
usgs-04213075 2.10 - 2.40 ft III-IV 00h33m 1.66 ft (too low)

River Description

This is a very small trib of Elk Creek that empties out in McKean, roughly one mile above the suggested put in for Upper Elk. It is a smaller, shorter version of Chautauqua Creek, NY. Lamson drops over 30 feet in a .3 mile near the end of the run. That is a rate of over 100 feet per mile! This section of the run also includes a very fun 6 to 8 foot waterfall! The creek is pastoral for the first mile and residential in the last mile. The valley is however, fairly wooded.

Don't go too far out of the way to boat Lamson. It is a sweet run, but hard to catch. The window of opportunity is just a couple of hours. Runnable levels are sketchy at best. The good news is drainage in this region causes floods even if it only rains hard for an hour or so! It is very narrow, no more than 5 feet wide at times. Expect strainers, but as of Feb 2006 there is only one tree that required a portage. Non creekers should find another run such as the Yough or Cattaraugus Creek, NY.

Put in at Valley Inn along Old Rt 99 which follows the creek for most of the run. To get to the take out, follow old Rt 99 downstream untill you get to Rt 99. Turn left and continue a short distance to the next left turn called Shadduck Rd and you will cross the bridge almost immediatly. Take out on Shadduck Road in McKean on the downstream side of the bridge. The upstream side is posted. If you keep going you can combine this run with Upper and Middle Elk if you want a long run. Elk will be wild when Lamson Run is available with Class II-III rapids and HUGE waves! Possibilities for access are endless!

Don't be fooled by the looks of Lamson Run from the shuttle. It looks too small to boat and not very interesting. This is because most of the creek you will see is near the put in which is very tame. The first half mile is very serpentine with very sharp bends and some trees to duck. After this, the creek begins to straighten out and pick up speed. It starts out with bigger riffles and then there is a sudden 4 foot drop into a big hole. The run continues to pick up the pace with Class II's and a few Class III ledges that are fun for surfing. Somewhere in this section is a barbed wire fence that crosses the creek. You will have to pick it up carfully with your fingers and pass under it. I will try to get more information on the location of this fence soon. After you pass a few houses close to the creek you will then reach the climax of the run. Class III's become more numerous and there is a 6 to 8 foot waterfall on a right bend. It is hard to scout and I'm sure it would be nearly impossible to scout in high water. There is a concrete wall surrounding the base area of the falls (maybe there used to be a mill?) and very steep banks on both sides of the creek above the falls. This falls can be run anywhere except the center where there is a V shaped erosional feature causing the water to drop into a narrow chasm not more than 2 feet wide. Be sure to avoid this. Both sides are good, but you will want to run the right if you want to avoid a big hole at the bottom. This falls is almost completely verical with a possible boof on the right side. The falls is the only Class III-IV on the creek. As you continue downstream you will go past some islands with narrow channels with some small boulders and concrete fragments. Lamson Run's last rapid is right at the take out. It is a very short and sweet Class II series of holes immediatly after comming out of the short tunnel of Shadduck Road.


At levels near 2.4 ft, be sure to have a team of competent paddlers equipped with throw bags.

If you live near McKean, be sure to run this gem!


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2010-09-26 20:12:51


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Valley InnIPutin
1.7Lamson FallsIII+Waterfall
2.3Lamson's Final AssaultIITakeout

Rapid Descriptions

Valley Inn (Class I)
Put in on the edge of the Valley Inn bar's parking lot.

Lamson Falls (Class III+, Mile 1.7)

As you come around a small right hand bend, and a set of rapids you will come to the falls. It is pretty easy as long as you avoid the center where there is a nasty V shaped erosional feature. This falls alone makes the run worthwhile!

Lamson's Final Assault (Class II, Mile 2.3)

When you come up to the Shadduck Bridge the creek is divided into two tunnels.  You can take either the right or left side as long as there isn't any wood. Be sure to scout to make sure when running the shuttle. If it is free of wood, the left side is more interesting.

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