Kayaking the Mongaup River, NY

Don’t think we’re going to stay home on PA’s Lehigh River on non water release weekends, so discovering the Mongaup River, Port Jervis, NY, was perfect!  It is a narrow river that depends on a dam release for it to be runnable. The river is short, class 2-3 run, that is almost 3 miles. Those stats didn’t deter about ten of us from feeling its’ wrath in some of the rapids this season.

After we signed the public attendance sheet, we put in just below a somewhat treacherous low-head dam. More experienced paddlers tested their skills in this river wide hole. My husband said, “We witnessed many unplanned wet exits. One empty boat was brave enough to surf this feature alone for at least fifteen minutes, while the kayaker swam to safety!” Soon the water released the boat and it was claimed down river.

The river trip began below the low head dam with a huge drop on river right, which produced a great play wave, however, the river flowed into a high wall just below the wave and many first timers had their first roll or swim there. Bouncing off that wall might be considered fun in an inflatable kayak! Maybe not!

The next half- mile was class 1-2 whitewater. We warmed up and got ready for the decent of the river, which created technical features that increased in difficulty. Large boulders and rock walls, protruding on either side of the river, created awesome eddy lines for stern squirts and bow stalls. Our friends had tons of fun surfing on those lines.

No rocks for an inflatable kayak please. During one of my first Mongaup trips, I my boat had to be pulled off a rock that I thought had enough water. Risk foot entrapment by standing in the river? Never! The water rushed too forcefully! The boulder was a beast craving some company. I learned not to follow a hard boat in an IK! That’s when I began reading the river myself! It was a river reader’s delight for me, and my friend. Our inflatable kayaks responded quickly to our sharp turns. What a wild ride! The technical section allowed us to work and develop eddy hopping in fast flowing water.

The second half of the run is much more exciting because the river’s quick decent and the fact that there are boulders and ledges everywhere. My husband had a wise word about the Mongaup. “ A relatively bombproof roll is strongly recommended, since the rocks are sharp, and swimming is dangerous and extremely painful!” It was his second run, while I sat on a rock with my camera. He and his buddies were paddling toward the last feature on the Mongaup before it meets the Delaware. The wave train’s 30 foot length and 6 foot waves catapulted them high, and they’d disappear and then rise over the next one. We saw the whole thing. Rob attempted to boof a rock. When his boat flipped, he attempted to set up for his normally ‘bomb proof’ roll. Too shallow.  His head and shoulders were rudely introduced to these gargoyle boulders, that reside underneath the river. The flow of water over the boulders deep beneath the water create the wave train. Due to the shallowness, the gargoyles beat his head and shoulders repeatedly until he was left with no choice but to swim into the Delaware. The gauges and scratches on his helmet are a fine testimony to the challenges of the Mongaup River. We were back two weeks later! It’s worth the trip!

The put-in is:  Take Rt. 97 N and make a right after the Mongaup bridge on the Rt.31. Go uphill for about 2 miles and make a right on Knight Road. and right on to Rio Rd. Look for Rio Whitewater Facility sign on the right and follow the dirt road, 1/2 mile to Orange and Rockland’s Power Station. There are few parking spots at the put in, so it’s good to get there around 10:00am. After the crazy wave train ride at the end of the river you turn right to paddle up the Delaware a few hundred feet to take out.

Leave a comment


  1. I loved this one. You should write more articles on kayaking. I think It would be great to even write about the equipment you use and even techniques you’ve learned. how to roll artice, how to swim, how to stay calm when you flip, how to read the river, what is the best type of kayak for playing, what to bring to eat. You have a wealth of information! Nice Job with this!

    • Thank, djmastermind! I appreciate your comment and will think about that. Should I designate kayaking articles to my blog, Life begins at 50? Thank you for your kind comment. Your articles about becoming a DJ are amazing, too!

  1. Kayaking the Mongaup River, NY « New York Outdoors Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: