EB Delaware is so awesome
BLAH. Unlike BLAH. Over the course of a typical season, the reservoir of cold water at the bottom of Pepacton is never depleted, such that the water at Downsville is between 5-8 degrees C (BLAH degrees F) even on the hottest summer afternoons. On days when Pepacton is releasing large volumes of water, the river can be frigid all the way to the Beaver Kill.
Below Downsville Dam and its stilling weir, a drop of water that fell on the Catskills and was lucky enough to escape diversion to New York City begins an unimpeded 363-mile journey to the sea. Only the first 33 miles of that journey are on the East Branch, but a beautiful 33 miles it is. BLAH. BLAH, its clarity unrivalled by any other similar-sized stream in the region, save perhaps its tributary Beaver Kill. Best of all, BLAH, allowing the paddler long sections of river to herself even on the most beautiful days of the year.
BLAH. BLAH. It is not a coincidence that the author has provided painstaking descriptions of every feature in the navigation guide, not to mention taken a photo of nearly every feature. The East Branch Delaware is the author’s favourite Northeast river, one that she has run countless times in every season, at high water and at the lower limit of navigability, BLAH. The author hopes that BLAH. (Just kidding–the river belongs equally to us all.)
This guide covers the entire navigable length of the East Branch Delaware River below Downsville Dam, from Downsville to the mouth.
Source: headwaters above Roxbury, NY
Mouth: Delaware River at Hancock, NY
Mapped length: 33.3 miles
Average gradient: 6 ft/mile
Difficulty: class II-
Significant hazards: very cold water that persists all year, especially in the first few miles; rapids at Corbett (28.9) and Cadosia Creek (2.3)
Short: Covered Bridge Park to Al’s Landing
Length: 6.9 miles
Difficulty: class II-
Significant hazards: very cold water; rapid at Corbett (28.9)
Medium: Long Flat to Rt 28
Length: 10.8 miles
Difficulty: class I
Significant hazards: none
Long: Crusher Pool to Firemans Field
Length: 15.7 miles
Difficulty: class II-
Significant hazards: rapid at Cadosia Creek (2.3)
|River mile||Type (key)||Description||Links|
|33.3||At average summer release levels, a thin curtain of water pours over the Pepacton Reservoir stilling basin weir. Downsville Dam itself (more info?) is hidden from view.|
Downsville gauge, river-left just above the weir.
|33.0||Drainage outlet on the left|
Rt 30/206 bridge. Signs are posted warning river users not to venture further upstream—don’t mess with the City’s water supply!
Al’s Sport Store private access on the left, 50 ft downstream of the bridge.
access pic | map
|32.5||Downsville Covered Bridge (Bridge St) (history of covered bridges)|
Downsville Covered Bridge access on the left, just upstream of the bridge.
Covered Bridge Park access on the right, a wide grassy shore between the bridge and the mouth of Downs Brook.
Downsville Covered Bridge access pic | map
Covered Bridge Park access pic | map
|32.4||A small island; main channel on the left with a nice riffle.|
Downs Brook, the first tributary of the East Branch below Pepacton, is a major one. BLAH on the right, at the head of the right channel around the island.
|32.0||Island; main channel on the left.||island pic|
|31.6||Gravel bar; keep right|
|31.3||A small island on the right and a larger island on the left at a left bend in the river; main channel is in the centre between the islands.||islands pic|
|31.1||Another small island; main channel on the right.|
|29.7||An island extending for 0.4 miles; main channel on the left.||island pic|
|29.1||Mouth of Campbell Brook on the left with a gravel bar extending out into the channel; keep right.||Campbell Brook pic|
|29.0||A sleek suspension bridge carries Corbett Rd across the river.|
Corbett Rd access on the left, a somewhat muddy gravel ramp just downstream of the bridge.
Island; main channel on the right. Rapids ahead! CAUTION! As of March 2022, the right channel is blocked by a tree trunk lying neatly across the first drop of 28.9 rapid. Portage along the left or take the left channel.
access pic | map
|28.9||CAUTION! A class II- rapid begins in the right channel around 29.0 island as it bends to the left and narrows to 30 ft. The first drop is very straightforward and consists of two submerged boulders on the right and shallows on the left; keep right and pass between the boulders. The second drop comes at the foot of the island and is also straightforward, as long as you keep far left. BLAH. Make sure the far left passage is clear before approaching; if it is blocked by a strainer, portage along the gravel bar.||rapid 1st drop pic | 2nd drop pic | map|
|28.5||A large island against the left bank extending for 0.4 miles; the side channel is very small and is easy to miss. Main channel on the right, with a series of shallow riffles.||island pic|
|27.9||Gravel bar extending out from the right bank; keep left.||bar pic|
|27.8||Fuller Hollow Brook left|
|27.7||Island; main channel on the left.||island pic|
|27.6||Cove on the left just before the foot of 27.7 island, its entrance mostly blocked by a large piece of deadwood.|
|27.1||Sharp right bend. Look back upstream as you round the bend for a striking view of a hill rising 1200 ft above the water.|
|26.4||Two islands extending for 0.5 miles; main channel is to the left of the first island and right of the second one. Take the narrower and shallower right channel around the first island to reach the Thayer Hollow access.||islands pic|
|26.2||Thayer Hollow access on the right, in the right channel around the first 26.4 island.||access pic | map|
|25.6||River Rd bridge|
Al’s Landing private access on the right, 70 ft upstream of the bridge. A flat rock slab is exposed at normal water levels; alternatively, launch from or land at a decent but steep gravel shore.
Mouth of Trout Brook on the right. A wide gravel bar constricts the channel against the left side.
access pic | map
|24.7||BLAH. Here begins a shallow stretch…|
Peaceful Valley Campsite private access BLAH
access pic | map
|24.2||Gravel bar; keep left. Very shallow.||bar pic|
|23.7||Boulder field on the left; keep right. At lower water levels, duck behind the first rock (in the centre of the channel) to enjoy the view of the preceding section before it disappears around a right bend.|
|22.7||A grassy gravel bar. Left and right passages are equally shallow; expect to scrape at low water.||bar pic|
|22.4||Island; main channel on the left.||island pic|
|21.7||Long Flat access on the right, about 200 ft before the end of a grassy bar; look for a trail through the grass and brush. The shore itself is quite muddy and squishy, but the shallow gravel riverbed makes this less of an issue.||access pic | map|
|21.6||Gravel bars detach from the right bank and stray into the centre of the channel; keep left.||bars pic|
|21.3||Mouth of Clauson Brook on the right at a gravel bar; keep left.||Clauson Brook pic|
|21.2||An island that is part of Tomannex State Forest. The right channel appears wider, but take the deeper left channel.||island pic|
|20.6||Tomannex State Forest access on the left, a soft shore of grass and mud just past the end of some grassy bars attached to the left bank.||access pic | map|
|20.5||Low grassy bars continue, now extending more than halfway into the channel. Keep right through a series of shallow riffles; beware a weir-like line of rocks on the right about halfway down.||bars pic|
|19.5||Harvard Rd bridge, a Pratt through-truss bridge open only to pedestrians.||bridge pic|
Oxbow Campsites private access BLAH
|access pic | map|
|19.3||Harvard gauge on the right, past the bars at the mouth of Baxter Brook.||gaugehouse pic|
|19.1||Sharp left bend at the end of a riffle; deeper on the outside as with most bends.|
|18.6||Island; main channel on the right.||island pic|
|18.3||Mouth of Morrison Brook on the right||Morrison Brook pic|
|17.9||Two islands lying side-by-side and lengthwise to the river; main channel is to the left of both.||islands pic|
|16.6||A group of three islands with the main channel to the left of all and side channels passable at moderately low water branching out to the right of each island. If taking out at Crusher Pool, I recommend taking the second side channel on the right and then paddling 120 ft upstream at the foot of the island. The direct route to the access (the first side channel to go right around the first island) is very narrow and shallow and may be blocked by a strainer.||islands pic | map|
|16.5||Crusher Pool access on the right, in the right channel around the first 16.6 island. Look for a small landing area of gravel and mud with a steep trail leading up the bank.||access pic | map|
|16.2||Rt 17 double bridges, obstruction BLAH||bridges pic|
|16.1||Old Rt 17 bridge|
Harvard Rd access on the left.
Old Rt 17 access on the right.A bar in the middle of the channel as it bends rightward; keep left. Alternatively, keep right at moderate or higher water for a more interesting route through the upcoming rapid.Mouth of Beaver Kill on the left. Beaver Kill is comparable in size to the upper East Branch, often more than doubling the latter’s flow at their confluence at East Branch, NY. Steep for its size, the clear and rocky Catskill stream features rapids up to class III and excellent trout fishing.
Harvard Rd access map
Old Rt 17 access pic | map
Beaver Kill pic
|15.7||Island with a few associated bars; main channel on the left. Keep close to the island at its foot, as the left side is very shallow there.||island pic|
|15.3||A couple of gravel bars at a right bend in the river. Deepest passage is in the centre, where a nice wave train funnels the flow between the bars (be careful not to be pushed against the left bank). The right passage is shallow and a little rocky, but is doable at moderate and higher water.||bars pic|
|14.8||Rt 17 double bridges||bridges pic|
|14.6||An island against the right bank with a very narrow side channel; main channel is on the left. BLAH shoals!!!||island pic|
|14.1||A low gravel bar, submerged at moderate water but still too shallow to traverse, extends up and out from the left bank. Keep fairly far right to scoot by its head, then enjoy a nice riffle as it constricts the flow a little further downstream.|
|12.5||A class I rapid over shoals. Best route starts on the far left, then tends toward the centre about 400 ft downstream.Mouth of Read Creek on the right, at the beginning of the rapid.||Read Creek pic|
|12.0||A short class I rapid at a gentle left bend and constriction. Both left and right sides are very shallow; keep centre and manoeuvre around a few boulders.||rapid pic|
|11.8||Fishs Eddy gauge on the right|
|11.3||BLAH. At latest observation (BLAH-2020), the deepest part of the flow was obstructed by a strainer on the left at the head of the bar. At moderate and higher water, it is possible to keep left of the bar and pass right of the strainer, but at low water, the right side is a better bet. You still might get stuck on shoals and have to walk your boat a short distance, but you will definitely get stuck on the left side if Fishs Eddy is below 5 ft or so.||bar pic|
|11.2||Fish Eddy-Sullivan County Line Rd (Rt 28) bridge||bridge pic|
|11.1||Mouth of Fish Creek on the right. A gravel deposit extends into the channel; keep right through a riffle with nice smooth waves.||Fish Creek pic|
|10.9||Fish Eddy-Sullivan County Line Rd (Rt 28) access on the right, at a wide gravel shore after a right bend.||access pic | map|
|10.3||Partridge Island extends for 0.5 miles. Both channels are passable, with the left channel offering a slightly less scrapey passage through the shallows past the foot of the island.||Partridge Island pic|
|9.3||Mouth of Tar Hollow Brook on the right.||Tar Hollow Brook pic|
|9.0||Island; main channel on the right.||island pic|
|8.8||Mouth of City Brook on the right, in the right channel around 9.0 island. It is unclear what city it is referring to, as the nearest city is Oneonta, some 35 miles away in a different watershed.|
|8.2||A string of several long, skinny islands extends for 1.0 mile. Main channel is to the right of the first island, then either left or right of the second island, and left of the third and fourth islands. Peas Eddy, a stretch of calm, slow, and quite deep water begins at the foot of these islands. At low flows, the riverbed is clearly visible even in the deepest parts of the eddy.||islands pic | map|
|6.7||Peas Eddy Brook bifurcates around a brushy island at its mouth on the left, its gravel deposits extending halfway into the channel.||Peas Eddy Brook pic|
|6.4||Peas Eddy Island, a large, heavily wooded island that stretches for 0.7 miles, marks the end of Peas Eddy as the river becomes shallow and the current quickens. The main channel is on the left, though the far right channel is passable at moderate flows with a class I+ rapid over a series of ledges.||Peas Eddy Island pic|
|5.9||Sharp right bend in the left channel around Peas Eddy Island.|
|5.3||Gravel bar; keep left for an easy ride through riffles. The right side is rocky but passable at moderate water levels for a fun class I+ rapid.||bar/rapid pic|
|4.7||An eel weir spans almost the entire channel and may have an active trap. Keep far right to squeeze by at low water; at high water, clean passage over the walls becomes possible.||eel weir pic|
|4.1||Island; main channel left||island pic|
|3.0||The main channel to the left of two small islands is quite shallow, especially near the head of the first island.||islands pic|
|2.5||Boulders litter the right half of the channel as the river becomes broad and slow approaching Cadosia Creek rapid. Keeping toward the centre of the channel will provide a good entry point to the rapid; if taking out at Cadosia Creek access at low water, keep centre and cut across just before the rapid begins.|
|2.3||CAUTION! Cadosia Creek rapid, a short but lively class II-, has exposed rocks at low water and big waves at high water. The best line is on the left though not all the way up against the left bank; passing left of a small bar abeam the access and right of a cluster of rocks as the current picks up will give you a good entry point.|
Cadosia Creek empties into the river on the right abeam the first major ledge of the rapid.
The Cadosia Creek access is BLAH.
|rapid pic | map|
access pic | map
|1.7||Class I rapid beginning at a constriction and continuing as the river bends westward. Enter on the right, as the left side is very shallow, and let yourself be carried toward the centre as you manoeuvre around some boulders.||rapid pic|
|1.2||NY Rt 97, which roughly follows the Delaware River from Hancock to Port Jervis as the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway, begins by crossing the East Branch as Stockport Rd.||bridge pic|
|1.1||Island; main channel on the left.|
A railroad bridge spans the river just past the head of the island.
|0.8||Firemans Field access, a wide gravel shore on the left as the river runs up against the base of Point Mountain and is deflected southbound.||access pic | map|
|0.0||The East Branch meets the West Branch to form the beautiful, free-flowing, 330.2-mile long Delaware River. A low gravel bar at the point of confluence is barely exposed at normal water levels; keep left.||confluence pic|
|River mile||Access (key)||Position||Nearest town||Type/condition||Links|
|33.0||Al’s Sport Store *||D/L||Downsville, NY||excellent rock platform; average gravel/mud shore||pic | map|
|32.5||Downsville Covered Bridge (Bridge St)||U/L||Downsville, NY||average grass/mud/gravel shore||pic | map|
|32.5||Covered Bridge Park||D/R||Downsville, NY||good grass shore||pic | map|
|29.0||Corbett Rd||D/L||Corbett, NY||average gravel/mud ramp||pic | map|
|26.2||Thayer Hollow||R||Shinhopple, NY||average gravel/mud shore; very steep path||pic | map|
|25.6||Al’s Landing *||U/R||Shinhopple, NY||excellent rock platform; average steep gravel/mud shore||pic | map|
|24.7||Peaceful Valley Campsite *||L||Shinhopple, NY||average gravel/grass/sand shore; swift current||pic | map|
|21.7||Long Flat access||R||Harvard, NY||poor grass/mud shore; long overgrown path||pic | map|
|20.6||Tomannex State Forest||L||Harvard, NY||average gravel/mud shore; very steep path||pic | map|
|19.4||Oxbow Campsites *||D/R||Harvard, NY||excellent gravel shore||pic | map|
|16.5||Crusher Pool ~||R||East Branch, NY||average gravel/mud shore; steep path||pic | map|
|16.1||Harvard Rd||D/L||East Branch, NY||map|
|16.1||Old Rt 17||M/R||East Branch, NY||average gravel/grass/mud shore||pic | map|
|10.9||Fish Eddy-Sullivan County Line Rd (Rt 28)||R||Fishs Eddy, NY||excellent gravel shore||pic | map|
|2.3||Cadosia Creek||R||Hancock, NY||average gravel/grass/dirt shore||pic | map|
|0.8||Firemans Field||L||Hancock, NY||good gravel shore||pic | map|
~ access is in a side channel or up a tributary and may be difficult to use at low water
|Station||River mile||Data and forecasts||Recommended level|
|East Branch Delaware River at Downsville *~^||33.3||USGS | NWS||at least 2.9 ft|
|East Branch Delaware River at Harvard ^||19.3||USGS | NWS||at least 2.7 ft|
|East Branch Delaware River at Fishs Eddy ^||11.8||USGS | NWS||at least 4.6 ft|
~ directly affected by reservoir operations
^ water temperature data available
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) operates Downsville Dam under the direction of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and the Delaware River Master. Reservoir levels and releases are published online and are updated weekday mornings. The DEP does not forecast reservoir releases, but the likelihood of a release level being sustained or increased/decreased can be estimated by comparing the system’s current percent capacity to the normal percent capacity (the DRBC hydrologic conditions dashboard offers a neat visual representation of this at upper-right). Announcements of unusual dam operations can be found on NYC Watershed’s Facebook page.