A good friend was turning 40 yrs. of age, to celebrate he wanted to paddle 40 miles, in a day. We decided to pull this off by trying a trip we had often discussed-paddling from the Pymatuning Reservoir in Crawford County, PA to the Shenango River Lake Reservoir in Mercer County, PA. With an 11 mile crossing of Shenago Lake where the river enters it to Orangeville,Ohio thrown in to make up the needed miles.
We had often discussed the river portion of this trip but had never done it. The reason being due to the sheer number of people and reference sources that claimed it was either "almost impossible" or just simply impossible. The claims were that the upper river was so strewn with log jams and strainers that passage was "impossible".
But none the less we launched in the pre-dawn hours of Columbus Day (after all were we ourselves not great explorers?). We found the trip difficult but hardly impossible. We had only one actual portage, two occasions where we had to get out and do a balancing act while dragging the 'yaks over logs, and on several occasions had to do the "kayak limbo" to go underneath obstructions. This sometimes required the use of the "bench press technique" pushing against the obstacle so that either it rose enough, or the kayak submerged enough to pass beneath it. The river portion of the trip took 7 1/2 hours vice the 12 hour claim found on the Trumball County Canoe Club webpage.
We found this portion of the Shenango mostly wild and very scenic. We saw Deer, Racoons, all manner of waterfowl, and both Bald Eagles and Osprey. The trip was physically taxing requiring good kayaking skills and endurance. I loved it.
There is much evidence of the old canal works and the tow path still evident along the way. A short hike off the river in the section between Kiddes Mill and New Hamburgh will bring you to "Circle of Stones", long believed to be the remnant of an old meeting place of witches or satanist. Some claim it was a spot used by early Masons to conduct initiations - very creepy.
The lake portion was 11 miles and was typical flat water lake paddling. We used 4 hours on this leg for a total trip time of 11 1/2 hours.
A great trip but not for the weak of heart or spirit.
Boat launch near Dam in Jamestown, potential supply stop in Greenville, PA as River flows right through downtown. Parking at city park in Orangeville, OH. There is a small store and two Bar/Restaurants there also.
Kayak must have either Pennsylvania or Ohio registration.
Park at the Damn in Jamestown, PA and follow the river down to the Shenago Reservoir. Our pick up vehicles parked at the city park in Orangeville.
Reservoir Map provided and free from US Army Corp of Engineers, Pittsburgh District.
- Skill Level: Advanced
- Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)