One of our favorite canoe trips is the Allegheny River in Warren County, PA. The most popular put-in is at the Visitor Center just below Kinzua Dam. The stretch of river from the dam down to the city of Warren, Pa. is about 8 miles. The current in this stretch is generally moving right along making this quite easy to paddle. The only white water you'll see is when you're nearly past the refinery. It's nothing to difficult.
Once you enter downtown Warren the confluence of the Conewango Creek is on your right. You have traveled about 8 miles. After Warren the river widens some and the current seems to drop-off. Approximately another 7 1/2 miles below Warren you will come to Buckaloons National Forest Recreation Area on river right. If you're looking for a regular campsite with a picnic table, fire-ring, and access to a pit toilet on the grounds, this is the place to stay. If you decide to "rough-it" a bit, Crulls Island, along with several other islands, is just beyond the Buckaloons. Either the Buckaloons or one of the islands are a nice place to spend the night.
The second day your destination will be Tidioute. Tidioute is approx. 15 miles downstream from Buckaloons. There are more islands scattered along the way, so time your stop to find an island before Tidioute. Some of the islands on the river are public, some are private. However, we have never experienced any problems camping on any of the islands. If it's posted private, stay off. If Tidioute is your pullout, the boat ramp is on your right, just before the bridge.
The third day your destination will be Tionesta, about 14 miles down stream from Tidioute. This pullout can be a little tricky to see until you're nearly by it. So when you drop off your shuttle vehicle make certain you locate some landmarks for the pullout on river left. If you like to fish there is a healthy population of smallmouth bass and walleye. You are also likely to see Bald Eagles along the way. We have seen them on several different occasions.
The river is lined with camps in some areas and quite isolated in other areas. There is some industry near Warren but you're by it before it becomes bothersome. In case of an emergency you're really never too far from help as Routes 59, Route 6 or Route 62 parallel the river at some point of your journey.
Depending on the flow of the river, the various islands from the dam down to Tidioute present a chance for more encounters with wildlife, deer, geese, ducks, and other assorted furred and feathered friends. If you have time, leave the main channel and take the less traveled side of the islands. Here, in the backwaters, you'll find many animals at rest. However, if the river is down, you'll likely end up dragging the canoe for a bit as some of these areas are quite shallow.
For river flow we use the USGS gauge in Warren, PA and also the West Hickory gauge for the Allegheny River. We look for a flow of 2300 and up for a fully loaded canoe.
Tionesta to Oil City:
This is approximately a 20 mile trip. In Tionesta, we leave our vehicle on river left, just beyond the Rt. 62 bridge over the river, at a public parking area. We use a shuttle service to move our vehicle down to Oil City. The take -out in Oil City is on river right, just beyond the Holiday Inn and nearly under the bridge. This day trip will take about 6 hours of average paddling with the normal snack and lunch breaks. You're very likely to see Bald Eagles on this stretch, as well as hawks, ducks and geese. Turtle Bay B & B is on river left.
Franklin to Emlenton:
This is my favorite 2 day outing on the Allegheny River. The put-in on river right is a few blocks south of the Rt. 322 bridge in Franklin. This is a well maintained state boat launch. This stretch of the Allegheny always seemed to be a bit more remote than the upper sections. Fewer camps and cottages to distract from the beauty of the mountain surroundings. We use a shuttle service to move our vehicle down to Emlenton. The take-out is on river left under the bridge in Emlenton. From the take out you can see the I-80 bridge spanning high over head over the river valley. It takes about 5 hours to get from Franklin to the Danner Rest Area of Clear Creek State forest of the Allegheny River Tract on river right. The Danner Rest Area is situated on a long narrow bench, paralleling the river for 2-3 tenths of a mile. The sites have a picnic table and fire ring. The camping area also has a pit toilet facility. A short walk up the trail from the pit toilet, take a right on the horse trail and you'll come to a mountain spring that has been piped through a stone wall. The water is probably safe for horses to drink, but we still filter or treat it before drinking it.
The next morning you'll have another 5 or so hours of easy paddling before arriving at Emlenton. On the second day the river has a bit more drop and you'll encounter some faster current in spots.
It wasn't that many years ago that it was a rarity to see Bald Eagles on the Allegheny. Now, it has become a rarity not to spot the majestic eagle on the river.
I hope you enjoy this trip as much as we do.
Approx 8 miles east of Warren Pa. on Rt. 59