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I have a little creek in my back yard. It's slow moving and safe (as safe as a slow moving creek can be.) I'd like to build a little set of stone steps into the creek and am not sure of the best structural/engineering/least impactful way of do it.

So here's the main question:

Should the stairs be pointing up river or down river?

I've attached an image (very rough) of what I'm thinking. i'm not sure if the top version or the bottom would be better all else considered equal.

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ I think the bottom version would be preferable. If you use the upper, downstream version, the water will flow around the steps and silt will settle around the steps and gradually fill it it. In upstream version, the water will keep the silt from settling. $\endgroup$ Nov 2 '18 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ Is the stream the same width the whole time or do the steps change the width? Your second diagram is unclear in that regard. $\endgroup$
    – hazzey
    Nov 2 '18 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ @hazzey HA, I'm not that great of an artist. Yes though, right now it's all the same width. I'd likely do a bit of digging in for the steps $\endgroup$
    – rudtek
    Nov 2 '18 at 20:26
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From a fluid mechanics perspective, the lower the fluid interaction the better.
As you have seen, a lot depends on how the original creek is shaped.

If you face the stairs into the fluid flow, you will impact the most physical stress on the rocks. When you move water, it is going to go somewhere else. So, it will erode the banks. This approach will also result in a vortex being generated behind the stairs that will erode the ground behind your stairs.

The pocketed entry drawn in your first example will last longer. Just be careful to reinforce the banks.

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