West Branch Susquehanna River
We made this a three day trip with two on the water. The trip include two adults and three kids (between 7 & 10 yrs). The kids had no paddling experience. We drove up Friday night stayed in a local B&B and took in a little local color in Clearfield (nice town). Pre-trip intelligence was provided by McCracken Canoe in Shawville.
My buddy was going to rent but when he showed up at McCracken and saw the new 15' Wenonah Heron, he bought it on the spot. Kids, gear and boats put in below the power plant in Shawville. We paddled 15 mostly quiet miles seeing very few people and zero development, roads, etc. A railraod intermittently parallels the river but is not a nuisance. There are some nice places to stop for lunch and further downstream, Boy Scout camps appear and are available to use. They are primitive and basically pretty clean. Decent firewood was hard to find. The fishing was poor because of recent rain but I would still bring my rod anytime on this river.
After the camping that night, we paddled just 7 miles to the take out at the Rolling Stone bridge where the folks at McCracken ferried our car. This was a great trip, especially for the kids. The stream flow kept us moving briskly and the rapids were just enough to make it fun for the kids without scaring them. We could have easily done another night and I have problem recommending this trip for families with even a modicum of paddling experience. As always, I would check the stream level before going. I'm sure the character of the river is a lot different at 3.8 and 2.8 which was our level.
Oh, and use McCracken Canoe, they have a very useful guide published by the Boy Scouts that detail the history of the river and name/highlight the various features along the way. It really made the trip more interesting as we read about the great logging days and the river runs of the late 1800's.
We stayed in a bed and breakfast (Christopher Kratzer House
814-765-5024) Friday night. Perfectly nice.
Old Town Penobscot (16') and Wenonoah Heron (15')
Clearfield is located along Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania. The put in at Shawville is just outside Clearfield.
The Boy Scout Guide to the West Branch which is avaiable at McCracken(814)765-1410 www.mccrackencanoe.com