Kayaking the Lehigh River from Jim Thorpe to Lehighton

After our first Lehigh River kayak trip went so swimmingly, we were psyched to go back again.  The class I rapids had been no problem at all -- very fun actually -- in our recreational kayaks, and I planned our next trip to be an extension of the same route that would also include some short class II rapids.  So whereas last time we did about half of the route from Jim Thorpe to Lehighton, this time we did the whole thing.

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There are two class II rapids on this route, the two shown in yellow at the top of the Weissport Canal Loop map.  According to American Whitewater, the first one is Bear Trap rapids; I can’t find a name for the second one, under the railroad bridge.

We navigated these rapids easily (as you can see in the videos) in our recreational kayaks, an Emotion Glide and a Perception Sport Sound 9.5.  The water level was very high during our run -- about 4000 cfs, compared to ~500-1500 cfs normally -- because of a larger-than-normal dam release to make room in the reservoir for the expected rain from Hurricane Irene, hitting in the next couple of days.  This high water level might have made the rapids easier, because we didn’t hit, nor even see, any rocks at all in the rapids; but we also went back a week later and did this same run again at a normal river level, and again had no problems.

I don’t think these kayaks would do well up in the Lehigh Gorge with the class III rapids, because they can’t be quickly turned, nor unrolled, the way whitewater kayaks can.  But being able to do class IIs opens up a pretty large amount of the Lehigh River below the gorge, so we have lots more yakking to look forward to!

Check out all the photos and videos from this run.

Previous kayak trip: Kayaking the Lehigh River: Weissport Canal Loop.

Bonus kayak trip: Kayaking the Hiwassee River in Tennessee.

Next kayak trip: Exciting Schuylkill River Kayaking: Leesport to Elper’s Landing.

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