A paddler along Pennsylvania's Tohickon Creek. (YouTube Photo)

A paddler along Pennsylvania’s Tohickon Creek. (YouTube Photo)

Whitewater paddlers will converge on Bucks County, Pennsylvania’s Tohickon Creek Saturday and Sunday, March 19 and 20, when the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources releases water from Lake Nockamixon into Tohickon Creek.

Releases are historically scheduled on a semi-annually basis, usually occurring the third weekend in March and the first weekend in November. The releases from Nockamixon State Park dam provide suitable whitewater boating conditions downstream through Ralph Stover State Park from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

Water releases begin at 4 a.m. Several hours later, the release consisting of millions of gallons of water moving down the waterway will create whitewater conditions at Ralph Stover State Park, according to park officials. Suggested hours for viewing the release and boating activity are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Ralph Stover.

Water releases are eagerly awaited by whitewater paddling enthusiasts, drawing skilled kayakers, canoeists and occasional rafters from throughout the Northeastern United States. Most launch their boats at Ralph Stover State Park, near Pipersville, Bucks County, and travel some four miles along the Tohickon Creek to its junction with the Delaware River at Point Pleasant.

DCNR officials remind boaters that this is technical whitewater with Class 3 and 4 rapids that require boating skills. Boaters should be aware of and abide by the safety code of the American Whitewater Affiliation. Boaters must wear appropriate personal flotation devices, take appropriate precautions to prevent hypothermia, and use only craft designed for this type of water.

This popular event was cancelled in the fall of 2012 due to damage at Ralph Stover State Park from Hurricane Sandy, again in the fall of 2013 due to a mechanical failure at the dam control tower in Nockamixon State Park, and subsequently cancelled for the entirety of 2014 and spring 2015 because of work to replace the Route 32 Bridge across the Tohickon Creek in Point Pleasant.

Although bridge work is not complete, with cooperation of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and its contractor, DCNR was able to resume releases in fall 2015. If there is not sufficient clearance at the temporary bridges for boaters to pass safely, boaters will exit at the Point Pleasant Community Park.

For more information, contact Nockamixon State Park at (215) 529-7300, or Delaware Canal State Park at (610) 982-5560.