What a fantastic trip we had on this section of French Creek. We put in at Rt. 97 -- I had never used this put-in before and in fact didn't even know it was there. It's private property, but the owner allows access to the creek as long as you don't block the lane that accesses his field. The actual put-in is right under the bridge; nice sandy shore with a gradual grade into the water. It doesn't get any better than this!
Almost immediately, we saw our first two eagles: one an adult and the other an immature. We saw a flock of second-year Common Mergansers, several Great Blue Herons, another immature eagle and several Red-tailed Hawks. Heard multitudes of warblers and other little hidey birds, and the songs of the Catbirds accompanied us the entire way. There were several stands of Canada anemone in bloom... the first I've seen in several years.
The water level was just about ideal--high enough to get over the gravel bars and sunken branches, but not so high as to be too pushy. We had enough current to just sit back and let the water do our work for us much of the way.
I had my new GPS along and we paddled 9.5 miles to the take-out at Rt. 6N/19 intersection in 3 hours with about 32 minutes of lunch time, averaging about 3 mph. The maximum speed peaked at 7.7 mph going through one minor rapids that was easily maneuvered. The hardest work we did all day was carrying the canoes up the boat ramp at the Rt. 6N take-out.
**Please note that PA Fish Comm. has closed the ramp and access area at this take-out (as of August 2009).
This little section of the creek is best paddled in the spring or after a decent rainfall. It is mostly moving flatwater with several sections of easily run minor rapids--not really strong enough to be rated as real whitewater. As this traverses both farmland and woodland, there are very few houses or cottages. But French Creek is ever-changing, so approach any downed trees with caution so as to avoid being swept into a strainer.
French Creek is known for its pristine waters and 26 species of freshwater clams and several endangered fish species. There are also hellbenders living in the creek. Therefore, anyone paddling this creek should try to avoid excess scraping or walking on the bottom of the creek when getting in and out of your boat.
Pack out all litter!
No camping, no bathroom, at either end.
No fees or permits required.
The put-in is on Rt. 97, 4.5 miles east of Waterford, PA, at the bridge over the creek. Pull into the farm lane on the southeast side of the bridge and road to unload. Do NOT block this lane.
Please note that PA Fish Comm. has closed the ramp and access area at the take-out (as of August 2009) Update (5/13/17): The ramp at Rt. 6/19 intersection is accessed through privately owned property. They allow paddlers to use their parking lot to load or unload, but NOT to park. You will have to find other parking arrangements. What we do is drive north on Rt. 19 about a hundred yards and park at the southern end of the parking lot at the Creekside Inn. After we are done paddling, we go in for a meal and refreshment. It's a good working arrangement!
River/Creek (Up to Class II)