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Philadelphia Canoe Club

Stonycreek Rendevous

  • 20 May 2022
  • 22 May 2022
  • 40° 12' 54.5796" N, 78° 54' 4.4028" W See map: Google Maps


Stonycreek Rendevous is at Stony Creek near Johnstown, PA for more info contact Joe Cunningham Email:Joepaddles@gmail.com

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Water Type: 

 Class III  Class IV

The character of the Stonycreek River, often referred to as the Stony, is difficult to describe when it comes to size.  As its name implies, it can be considered both creek and river.  The answer is a little of both - hybrid large creek and small river.  The Stony is a play-boater’s dream, yet still offers everyone a fun time.  At low to medium water levels, this is primarily a class III run.  At medium to high levels the intensity and continuousness of the run picks up dramatically and steps up a notch in difficulty.  Most of the rapids are a combination of continuous ledges coming at you from different angles and can be run using different lines.  A few of the rapids have large boulders thrown in to spice things up.

For the most part,  there are only a couple somewhat serious hazards on the river at normal water levels / conditions.  However, as with any stream, situations can change overnight, so caution should never be thrown to the wind.  One of these hazards has been somewhat underrated, while the other has been somewhat overrated.  Both of these obstructions are not natural to the river, rather man-made structures that pose a threat.  The underrated hazard is the river-wide dam (Border Dam) that you must walk around on river left.  You will know when you get there due to a large building on river right.  The "spill-way" is river-wide.  The overrated hazard is directly below this dam where a pipeline crosses the river, creating a large hydraulic.  This overrating stems from a canoeing book reference long ago.  There is an easy tongue to run on river left that will keep you out of the maw.  However, several people paddle through the hydraulic on a regular basis (at very low levels) and seem to have no problem.  It is recommended to scout this far river right if not familiar.

There are great play spots along the whole river (keep your eyes open), but the majority of them are within the first three miles or so.  The playing only gets better as the level rises!  From the get-go, there are plenty of eddy lines, small to medium surfing waves, and holes.  The first major rapid, known as Johnsons Hole, is jam packed with play spots and has been loosely referred to as the “Surf Laboratory".  From the beginning of Test Tube Hole down to an overhead railroad bridge, there are 10-15 nice play spots depending on the water level. This rapid is 1/4  mile below where Shade Creek enters the Stony on river right.   Next comes Lower Railroad Rapid. This rapid is just downstream of the railroad bridge.  The rapid begins with a long slide that ends with a nice haystack wave. Immediately after this comes the locomotive. This is a ledge that stretches nearly across the width of the river. At mid to high levels, the ledge transforms into a hole that is mean and can reach the size of a large locomotive. The hole can be easily avoided on river right. 3 to 5 great surfing waves usually form over the next 100 yards.  The next rapid is called The Wall. This will be easily identified when the river makes a hard drop to the right and a shear slope is on your left. Soon after The Wall you will enter a succession of rapids named the three sisters.... wonderful surfing at medium to high levels.  The third sister is a near river wide hydraulic than can be enjoyed at low levels also.  There have been many boats in the hole (up to 9) at the same time on numerous occasions.  The river will eventually bottleneck into a hole named Scout on river right.  A play boater’s dream at low to medium levels.  The abundance of play spots continues for at least half of the run (too many to mention) until Border Dam.  Although the Stony calms down a little after Border Dam, don’t put on the blinders, as there are some very nice waves and holes that you might miss if you don’t keep alert.  The scenery is also spectacular along the way. Some other notable rapids on the Stony are Rooster Tail, Hydro, Beast, Hermit, Dislocation, Last Rapid and Showers.  Showers the first real rapid of the Stony Canyonsection can be run by putting in at Hollsopple, or just up stream of the bridge in Foustwell.

This five mile run can take as long as four to six hours if you play like some of the locals, or as short as 1.5 hours if you aren't messing around too much.  Though improving significantly, the water quality of the Stony has a long way to go, as abandoned mine drainage (AMD) is a serious problem in the area.  The Stony's water quality continues to improve due to the diligent work of the Stonycreek Conemaugh River Improvement Project, as well as other grass-roots organizations in the region.

Runnable Levels and Gauge Information

The Stonycreek River has a minimum runable level of approximately 3.0 using the USGS gauge at Ferndale.  This corresponds to a flow of around 450 cfs.  The Stony Canyon gauge is painted on the center pier of the State Route 601 bridge in Foustwell and must be read at the site.  1.4 is a minimum on this gauge. The correlation between the USGS Ferndale gauge and the Stony Canyon gauge is USGS Ferndale minus 1.5 to 1.75 feet. The Stony is a great intermediate Class III run up to 3.5 feet on the on the Stony Canyon gauge. From 3.5 to 5.0, it is a solid Class III-IV continuous run. Above 5.0 is big and powerful with no large pools. Running it at 10-13 feet is absolutely huge (large risk).  Please…exercise caution and be safe.


Put in at State Route 601 bridge in Foustwell or  add an additional 1.5 miles by putting in at State Route 403 bridge in Hollsopple. The take out is a little tricky. From Hollsopple, take State Route 601 toFoustwell. Make a left before the bridge that goes over the Stony onto SR 4039. Follow this road for approx. 2 miles and  under Rt. 219 (4 lane). Just past Rt. 219 make a right onto Kaufman Church Road (church on corner). Follow for approx. 1.5 miles and make a right onto      SR 4022 (Carpenters Park Road) at a stop sign. Follow over Rt. 219 (4 lane) and down to the Stony takeout (CarpentersPark).

USGS Gauge StonyCreek River at Ferndale:

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