Over the past few months, I have taken two trips down the Lackawaxen River completing the trip from the village of White Mills to the confluence with the Delaware River. The first trip was from ten miles from the confluence and the second was from 20 miles from the confluence to ten from the confluence, ending the second trip where the first began. Each trip took two hours. Although I took this in two trips, I believe it could be taken in one. My problem with doing it in one was a shuttle/ride to the ins and outs. I will start from my furthest upstream launch site and carry it as one trip, since conditions downstream of the power plant were basically the same.
The trip began in the village of White Mills. The water was basically flat and somewhat swift from here to Hawley since the water level in Hawley was up to 4.2. There were only two little riffle/rapids between here and Hawley that were somewhat short. There was a slight riffle in Hawley where Middle creek entered, but nothing significant. After passing by the Railroad bridge that goes over the old Wallenpaupack creek that enters on the right(barely flows) the river enters a gorge and the river bed's elevation drops quite a bit. This part(at least at this water level) is quite demanding. There are plenty of big waves and the current wants to push you against the river bank. The first big bend is to the left and the right river bank is a huge man-made wall built to support the railroad that parallels the river for most of the trip. The turns in the river often seem to be leaning off camber(especially the left turns) even further pushing you into the banks and takes a bit of stamina and power to keep it from doing that. There are a lot of big waves, rocks, and some drop offs caused by rocks as big as cars or bigger that are sometimes unavoidable. At this level there looked to be some channels to the left of a couple islands that appeared to be more or less gravel bars.
On one of these I chose the inside left only to barely avoid being dashed against a huge tree and having to "jump" a downed tree. The left hand turns are brutal. Fortunately, they actually let up where the power plant's discharge enters. Shortly after the discharge enters you go under Kimble's bridge which narrows the river and the waves are big. Ledges jut out from the banks just after Kimble's bridge and I can easily see that a person could be caught under them if they fell out.
After Kimble's there is another rapid going to the left. In my opinion the rapids here on down do not have the descent like the previous ones(the horizon looks like a horizon, not a ski slope). The river continues for several miles with rocks to dodge and waves. There is a small rapid with some big rocks about two miles upstream from the Rowland bridge, though it is short,some waves. The river has followed the "towpath" mostly since leveling off after Kimble's until about a mile upstream of Rowland's bridge. Here, the Towpath askews right and an out cropping of houses appears and some rocky rapids begin and don't subside until the Rowland's bridge itself. These are a long set, plenty of rocks yet waves are in reason.
Short pause of action going under Rowlands bridge then it begins again. Channel right has some VW sized boulders and creates challenging chutes between them. Right is rocky, both sides narrow. There is a right turn down from these rapids that creates an eddy to bail out. After this it is a steady rock garden with no real big waves and no big drop offs. There is still considerable maneuvering to get to the confluence. Pass under the 590 bridge. I chose right to stay close to the take out at Zane Grey.
This trip could be very dangerous! Adventure and enjoy!!!
There is a small general store in White mills, not that great, but you can get a sandwich. Hawley has restaurants and a grocery store and gas stations, yet these are a walk from the only launch site at the confluence with Wallenpaupack creek which is a bit south of town.
PA launch permit for Zane Grey(10 or 18$) Or registration?
2 Potential put ins:
Upper is off rt 6 in White Mills PA. If you hit the blinking light, you're there, just go across the bridge and first right into the field. Plenty of parking.
The second was 10 miles up the Towpath from Zane Grey. These are pull offs for the fisherman and extended parking might get in their way. Use discretion. If the water is high, they won't be fishing. If it's low, well?
I used DeLorme maps and Yahoo satellite maps as well as some extensive recon to prep these trips.