Draining Pinchot Lake, Beaver Creek offers genuine steep creek white water only minutes from Harrisburg. This short run was pioneered by club members long before I got into the sport. They formed a small fraternity of paddlers known as the ‘Beaver Creekers’.
The put in is at the Alpine Road bridge east of the north end of the park at the same spot where the Mason Dixon Trail crosses the road. One can take a short hike upstream along the trail to the lake overflow and inspect the horrendous rapid following the dam. Who knows, maybe someday some deranged creek boater might actually attempt this cataract. Sometimes this rapid won’t be watered as the flow may be coming from the outflow gate. This demonstrates the existence of a valve and raises the speculation of announced releases. (Are you reading this, Jesse?)
Normal take out is at the Bull Road Bridge by the popular swimming/fishing/partying spot known as Beaver Hole. One can inspect the rocky ledge just upstream of the bridge to judge water level. It’s a good idea to hike up the creek for a quarter mile or so to check for strainers as this last section has no eddies. This spot is less than 1.5 creek miles from the put-in (I said it was a short run). So you may want to paddle all the way to the mouth at the Conewago, an additional .5 miles of moderately steep stuff paralleling Bull Road through posted property.
The run begins with a flat slalom through the woods before it starts dropping through a few incredibly tight slots among huge boulders. If your boat is wide and the level a little low you may actually have to tilt your boat a bit to get through one of the slots! The ‘Beaver Creekers’ have named two of these rapids ‘Consternation Rock’ and ‘Slot Machine’. Following the boulders the creek opens up just a bit but gets really steep near the end. One steep stretch is named ‘John’s Demise’ after a former boater turned kayak manufacturer. Legend has it that this was the last rapid John ever paddled. I can’t attest to that, it all happened before my time. But this I do know, having a rapid named after you is generally not indicative that you had a smooth run.
This creek is up more often than you would think for as tiny as it is. It is partially controlled by the lake valve but still seems to run with the rain. Requests to get information on releases from park personnel have not been successful. (Hello, Jesse)
A few words of caution: (Dis be da Disclaimer)
Years back there were some reports of locals felling trees across the creek to discourage boaters! At least the first part of the run is on State Park land, but the remainder is probably private. This should prompt the wise paddler to hike the entire run from the park to Bull Road to check for 1) strainers 2) no trespassing signs and 3) see just how tight and steep this creek is.
Note: This column represents one year of ‘River of the Month’. When I started last February I led off with a statement saying if anyone wants more information or to swap stories about any of the rivers discussed in the column to just give me a call. At this time I want to reiterate the message for any new members or those that may have missed that first column. So if anyone desires additional info you can call and I’ll help if I can, or maybe we’ll just compare notes. Numbers are in the club booklet. Happy Paddling! Pat Reilly
Copyright © 1999 Pat Reilly. All rights reserved.