Allegheny River in Pennsylvania
Warren, PA to Neville Island, PA - 212 miles
Having recently restored a 1962 Old Town Model 50# wood/canvas canoe (named "Elinore", after my late mother), I decided to find a solo trip that I could do that would return me to my home on Neville Island on the Ohio River just downriver from Pittsburgh, PA.
I started in Warren, PA, on August 17 and paddled for 15 days (with one day off and one 'double-day'... i.e. 15 paddling hours / 30 miles in one day).
The Allegheny, from Warren to its terminus at the Ohio river, can be divided into two different sections: the Middle Allegheny (roughly the 100 miles from Warren to Emlenton) and the Lower Allegheny (the 112 miles from Emlenton to Pittsburgh).
The Middle Allegheny was characteristically low for the season. Several places required me to get out of Elinore, and, with the lighted load, drag her through the shallow water. The scenery and experiences were stunning, including bald eagles swooping out of the sky to snatch fish from the river only 30 feet from my canoe, taking showers in mountain-fed waterfalls, midnight paddles to find campsites that were marginally comfortable, and the like. The Oil City Rapids were fine, but I'm glad that I scouted them first. There were only one or two lines that were hazard-free.
The best sections of the river (from my vantage point... a guy who prefers solitude and seclusion to a plethora of people) were from Warren to just short of Oil City, and from Franklin to Foxburg. The whole 212 mile stretch of river is an easy paddle (although pretty tiring when paddling solo with a canoe full of gear).
One fun part of the journey was to be joined by a pastor-friend and his two boys for one day of paddling in the Middle Allegheny and then again by another buddy for a weekend of paddling in the lower section of the river.
The least pleasant part of the journey was the Lower Allegheny, particularly finding suitable campsites very close to Pittsburgh. In these instances, 'stealth camping' was the only choice. Also, weekends in the lower sections weren't so fun, where power-boats and their insipid wakes double the effort and halve the pleasure.
All in all, it was a great experience... invigorating, tiring, rewarding, and serene.
If you wish to view a photo/video gallery of my entire two-week journey, it is located at:
1962 Old Town Model 50# (Wood/Canvas)
No. I refuse to put a cheesy sticker on my beautiful canoe, so I found other ways to launch.
my access point to the Allegheny: Point Park, southernmost end of Oak Street in Warren, PA
USGS 1:100,000 maps, and Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx loaded with free topo's.
- Trip Duration: Extended Trip
- Sport/Activity: Canoeing
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)