Kayaking a creek that flows into a river - advice on this elevation chart

Hey all, first time here on the forums. I am an intermediate level kayaker but most of my experience is on calm rivers lakes and bays. I don’t have a whitewater kayak but a couple of 9’ inflatable and hard shell open face kayaks.

Myself and a few friends want to explore a route of a nearby creek that flows into a river and because of the location, it would be difficult for me to scout out the outflow (without going to private property) into the river. I know there is no dam, but according to the chart there a dropoff in elevation:

Is this going to be intense?

This elevation chart appears to be of the land, not the river since water does not flow uphill. However, if the water falls around 150’ in a mile, it will be pretty intense. Of course it may fall much less that this going through a canyon. You really need to know the starting elevation of the stream. Plus there could be serious deadfall, rapids, waterfalls, obstructions where it is not possible to carry around, etc.

You might want to take a look at it on Google Earth. Personally, I would not run this without scouting it.


Well, 150’ to 120’ works out to be 30’ in a mile. That is still a pretty decent whitewater run depending on flow. Of course, as noted, much depends on the actual river gradient. You could have all flat water and a 30’ waterfall. If it is indeed a creek then it is likely to be small and the potential for wood is high. Coming around a blind bend in current without the skills and knowledge to find a micro-eddy & hold up could be recipe to become an entry in Charlie Wallbridge’s AW river accident database. American Whitewater

I would recommend that you see if the creek has an entry in American Whitewater’s River Index: American Whitewater
If the creek is runnable, there is likely some information there.

and there is that stretch of twenty foot elevation loss in a tenth of a mile. Boy would I want to know what that tenth of a mile contained… Pinch rocks strainers?

No way would I ever run it blind.

Thanks all for the feedback, really appreciate it. I am planning for running it at the end of the month, so this weekend I will see if I can do some scouting. To avoid private property I could also paddle down the river’s bank and see if I could take a peak at the creek outlet from there.

I did some more digging using Google Earth, and it does look like the elevation chart is based off the land (@rstevens15 as you mentioned) bordering the creek, which is much higher. One nice trick I found is to change the map year to winter time so there is no tree cover, and then you can use the cursor to find elevation at the waterline much easier.

So I think the creek is basically flat the whole run - I’ll still do some exploring beforehand to make sure. Thanks!

@rival51 thanks for the link - this route is not on there because really I think it is mostly too low water level to run consistently

You will be in over your head.
don’t do it.
35 feet per mile is plenty of drop.

Low water levels mean a higher presence of rocks and strainers. Agree w many above, skip it if you cannot scout all of it.