Creek Floats

-- Last Updated: Jul-19-15 12:12 AM EST --

Does anyone have any experience floating in a canoe or kayak on the following Pennsylvania creeks? Are they floatable? Any suggestions or comments...

Broadhead Creek- Analomink to Stroudsburg?

Little Schuylkill River - Tamaqua to Rauschs

Lehigh River - Above Francis Walter to Rt. 380

Clarks Creek

Scouting online by satellite view

– Last Updated: Jul-19-15 12:31 AM EST –

It might be a long shot that someone knows these creeks and can help you. I only checked these out because I enjoy looking at maps. Air-photo scouting tells some of the story. First-hand observation would tell more.

Broadhead Creek:
This creek was nearly dry in the section that you asked about, at least at the time of year the photos were taken (summer). There were sections that would be boat-able, as well as long sections that would not be. As expected, it gets better the farther downstream you go. The section you mentioned is very urban, and part of the creek even looked channelized. It's probably seasonal and rain-dependent, but most likely when it's running full enough for the shallows to disappear, it would be dangerous for any beginner.

Little Schuylkill River:
This one looks like it might be slightly better than the first, in terms of boat-ability, but it's probably rain-dependent too but also risky to run when full. It's a bit less urban, though one section goes right through the middle of an open-pit coal mine. I lost sight of it in the shadows of the trees along some sizable sections. Around here, a creek that size in the woods would be clogged with downed timber, but this creek looks like it flushes pretty hard when full, so tangles may not be much of an issue, but the need to sometimes walk your boat at normal water levels might be.

Little Lehigh Creek (before you edited your post):
The part of this one that you mentioned winds around in the bottom of a flat-floored valley in the middle of residential neighborhoods. It's a small, slow creek that is thoroughly choked with downed trees.

Lehigh River (after editing):
This looks better than the others, but still very iffy. I think below Route 380 shows a lot more promise, such as in the vicinity of Thomhurst. That's clearly paddle-able in that area, at least at the water level which was present when the photos were taken. There are lots of rocky drops though, which from the looks of things, might be scratchy most of the time but fun when the flow is a little greater than normal (this is a case where a trip to look it over would tell a lot more).

Clarks Creek:
I don't know if I found the right Clarks Creek, since no town was listed in your post. The one I looked at enters the Lackawanna River at Forest City Station. That creek is tiny. For some reason the photos were unusually bad, but I'd say you can't even run it in a boat. Again, it might not have been the creek you had in mind.

I have no specific knowledge of
the creeks you listed. Many small creeks become boatable when everything else becomes “blown out”. That is often in early spring so a drysuit is worn when conditions warrant. It can be a lot of fun but they are often full of hazards.

My biggest issue is wood- downed trees. Areas that have been hard hit by storms are often unpaddle-able.

I use a short ww kayak when I hit the “fishing creeks”. You must have good boat control to dodge the wood and be able to catch tiny eddies. You learn which way is downstream pretty quick if you get caught on rocks.

Dragging your boat is often done- due to shallows or due to wood as well. I wear felt soled booties when I think I’m going to be out of the boat a lot but that’s controversial. Falling is a big hazard.

I like exploring and go to seldom run stretches that are not in the guidebook but I’ve already run the more common stretches of various rivers in my area, to gain the needed boat control for the smaller streams. So this ain’t for beginners. Factor in a lot of time, take water and food, and don’t rush, that’s when mistakes happen. Very easy to twist an ankle, fall on a slick rock, or get caught up in a tree.

You will spend time learning about water levels, road scouting access points, studying county maps or watershed maps and undoubtedly do some “one and done” runs but you may find some real gems as well. Water quality tends to be poor since your paddling on flash run off. Prior to running I’ve scouted several points along the stream. Always better to catch creeks falling rather than when they are rising and on their lowside of runnability when doing a first time run. Once you get the water levels dialed in you can be more aggressive with your decision making.

One word of caution, this is very rewarding kind of boating but you’ve got to continually manage and assess the risks and expect the unexpected. I’ve know some folks who haven’t come home from this style of boating, granted it was on streams with more gradient than your looking at but scouting is hard to do on many small creeks due to a lack of shore eddies.

All these negatives but this is my favorite kind of boating! Love the scenery, intimate feel, sense of adventure.

In my neck of the woods these creeks have quite a bit of gradient- thus ww appeal but I have boated a few others with lower gradients and they can have their own unique issues- in agricultural areas watch for fences over and in the creek, beware of debris like old washing machines, car parts etc. culverts, low heads and I’m pretty sure a wino once did a double take when I paddled past him in downtown clarksburg wv under a bridge, I’ve even surprised bears a few times.

stay safe, wear your pfd but tuck in all loose straps to prevent a snagging hazard and watch out for fishing tackle in overhanging limbs.

In other words if your going to do this, you’ll have a lot fun but you got to get real about it to minimize the risk.

Keystone Canoeing
A great guide is Keystone Canoeing. It is bit old now but the best guide out there to start with.

I can look up your steams later but not near the book right now.

Keystone Canoeing
A great guide is Keystone Canoeing. It is bit old now but the best guide out there to start with.

I can look up your steams later but not near the book right now.