Ohiopyle, located in the Laurel Highlands about an hour southeast of downtown Pittsburgh, is the birthplace of whitewater paddling in this region and it remains a thrilling location for adventure. But the Youghiogheny, Conemaugh, Kiskiminetas, Allegheny, Clarion, Beaver, French Creek, Chartiers Creek, Slippery Rock Creek, and even the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers provide countless miles of flat and whitewater navigable by canoe and kayak for everyone from the beginner to the expert, with plenty of outfitters and liveries to help manage the trip.
Kayak PittsburghWhether you're looking for a quick lunchtime paddle, or a unique view at downtown Pittsburgh from its rivers, Kayak Pittsburgh is the place to start. Located on Pittsburgh's North Shore, next to PNC Park (down the staircase to the riverfront under the Roberto Clemente bridge), Kayak Pittsburgh rents solo and tandem kayaks, plus canoes and hydrobikes from May through October. Head out on your own, or schedule a group tour, private lesson or jump into one of Venture Outdoors' specialty outings.
National & Wild Scenic RiversWhen you really want to get away, the northwestern region of Pennsylvania is blessed with two waterways designated as National Wild and Scenic Rivers, the Clarion and the middle Allegheny. The 51.7 mile undeveloped stretch of the Clarion river, from Ridgway in Elk County to the backwaters of the Piney Reservoir in Clarion County, meanders through narrow valleys of hardwood forests with numerous recreational and scenic segments. Wildlife, intermittent riffles, and rock outcrops provide constantly changing scenery. The Clarion, popular for family canoeing, also includes a nationally recognized area of virgin white pine and hemlock.
Alternatively, the middle Allegheny is one of the most popular canoeing areas in the country, especially during midsummer when many other popular creeks and rivers do not have enough flow to keep canoes afloat. Beginning at Kinzua Dam, this 85 miles section of river flows through areas of narrow forest valleys, wilderness islands, and scenic, rural panoramas. Pennsylvania's Oil Heritage Region, well known for its colorful history and many historical attractions, is located along the southern half of the river route, while bald eagles can often be spotted between the Kinzua Dam and Warren, PA.
For a true 'wilderness' experience, plan a multi-day trip and camp overnight on one of the islands designated by Congress in 1986 as the Allegheny Islands Wilderness (yes, we actually have a national wilderness area in western PA). Seven islands in the middle of the Allegheny offer remote canoeing and back-county camping.