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The Allegheny River

Enjoying our beautiful water asset
Photo courtesy of Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Canoers regularly paddle sections of an 86-mile stretch of the Allegheny River that is part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. below: The Allegheny River was designated Pennsylvania’s River of the Year in 2017, based on an online public vote led by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Organization for Waterways and Rivers. Canoers regularly paddle sections of an 86-​mile stretch of the Allegheny River that is part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. below: The Allegheny River was designated Pennsylvania’s River of the Year in 2017, based on an online public vote led by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Organization for Waterways and Rivers.
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In many ways, the Allegheny River is the centerpiece of our region. It traverses landscapes from wilderness to urban and provides recreational opportunities in many different places along its course. One of the most spectacular parts of the river is the free-​flowing 125 miles of the middle Allegheny from the Kinzua Dam in Warren County to Brady’s Bend in Armstrong County.

The middle stretch of the Allegheny flows through a region that includes a wealth of public lands, including hundreds of thousands of acres of the Allegheny National Forest, state forest, game lands and state parks. Here the remote river corridor is interspersed with lumber heritage towns. The public lands include many miles of hiking trails. However, a unique experience also awaits you on the river itself.

Eighty-​seven miles of the Kinzua-​to-​Emlenton section of the middle Allegheny is federally designated as a National Wild and Scenic River. This section includes numerous islands — seven of which comprise the Allegheny River Islands Wilderness protected under the National Wilderness Preservation System. Islands are intriguing features, where each braid of the river channel exhibits its own character. Some islands are available for wilderness-​style camping.

A canoe trip down the middle Allegheny does not require extensive expertise. Paddling and silently drifting as the current carries you downstream is best for wildlife watching. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s Middle Allegheny River Trail Guide provides several canoe access points along the river: pfbc​.pa​.gov/​w​a​t​e​r​t​r​a​i​l​s​/​a​l​l​e​g​/​t​r​a​i​l​m​a​p​.​h​t​m. You can also find information online about outfitters who assist with gear and transportation.

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has been working to protect islands, shoreline and other lands in the Allegheny River watershed for many years, with nearly 100,000 acres in the watershed acquired to date.

To learn about the Conservancy, visit Water​LandLife​.org.


Thomas Saunders

Thomas D. Saunders is president and CEO of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving the region’s exceptional places.

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