Journey Down the Allegheny: An Introduction to Enjoying Waterways of McKean County, Pa.
McKean County is well-known as the eastern gateway to the breathtaking Allegheny Reservoir. Dramatically forested mountains encompass 99 miles of shoreline.
According to the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau (ANFVB), “It stretches from the Kinzua Dam, through the Allegheny National Forest, and across the New York border onto the Seneca Nation of Indians. It is 12,000 acres of pure getaway.”
For canoe and kayak addicts, one of the best adventures in the area is a trip on the Allegheny River. The most popular put-in is at the visitor’s center just below the Kinzua Dam. This trip provides unparalleled beauty, as you have a day (or days) of paddling surrounded by trees, wildflowers and small rock formations. There are several places along this journey that allow for convenient launches, pull-outs and breaks or camping along the way.
“It has been an annual trip for the past eight years for my friends and I to canoe the Allegheny, and every year it’s just as exciting,” said Ellicottville, NY resident Bonnie Bergan. “We love the camaraderie of loading up our canoes and making the trip to Pa. The water levels fluctuate and make for a different adventure each time we go! We pack lunches, throw on our bathing suits and take breaks on our journey to jump in the water, tie our canoes together to float on the river and eat our sandwiches.”
According to the ANFVB, this part of the Allegheny River is suitable for novice canoeists, although it is not without challenges. Long flat-water stretches are interrupted by generally mild riffles. Fallen trees occasionally become obstacles. Depending on river flow, you might have to get out of your canoe and wade through shallow stretches.
If heading down the river isn’t for you and you’re more of a relaxer in your canoe or kayak, perhaps you should consider putting-in at the southern-most tips of the Red Bridge arm and Sugar Bay of the Allegheny Reservoir. They provide excellent opportunities to enjoy easy paddling, wildlife observing and even fishing. Access to these areas can be gained by using the Kiasutha Boat Launch.
“I enjoy fishing out of the canoe because it’s simple. My favorite time to take the canoe out on Kinzua is in the spring when the water temperature is down and the walleyes are in the shallow water. You have the benefit of fishing places that you can't reach from shore without all of the headaches of maintaining a boat … not to mention the gas prices,” said Brandon Eckstrom, avid fisherman and outdoorsman from Kane, Pa.
He continued, “Although my canoe isn't exactly primitive, it still gives you that feeling that you're doing it the old-fashioned way. Words can’t described how relaxing it is to be floating on the calm evening water with your feet propped up catching some nice Kinzua walleyes!”
Don’t have your own canoe or kayak, but you’d like to give it a go? Be sure to check out our business spotlight article below on B’s Canoeing Guide Service out of Bradford, Pa. Let owner Brian Pfister guide you on a seven-mile journey down the Tunungwant Creek. Canoes, lifejackets and lunch provided. Read our article for more information, or give him a call at 814-598-7348.
For any further information regarding canoeing and kayaking, the Allegheny National Forest Region provides camping and launching facilities throughout northern Pennsylvania. Call the ANF Visitors Bureau at 800-473-9370 or visit www.visitANF.com. In New York, the Seneca Nation of Indians 716-945-1790, Cattaragus County 716-354-2615, and Allegany State Park 716-354-9121 all offer similar facilities.
If motors are more your speed, take a gander at the spread of boat launches - with GPS coordinates included - that the ANF has to offer. They provide the perfect opportunity for water sports. Whether your passion is water skiing, jet skiing, tubing, fishing or veg’ing out on the water to relax and soak up some rays, McKean County and the surrounding areas have you covered.
The impressive Kinzua-Wolf Run Marina (N 41-52-32 W 78-56-90) is the central hub for water enthusiasts. Here, you will find a boat launch with docking availabilities, as well as kayak, canoe, pontoon, fishing and houseboat rentals. Need to gas up? They have that too. Walk or drive across the street with your beach gear to take a load off at the popular Kinzua Beach.
Enjoy at meal or summer beverage of your choice at the serene and peaceful Docksider’s Restaurant, located right at the marina. Choose from a plethora of options - from tasty appetizers, to burgers, sandwiches, pasta, seafood and steaks. Sit on their outdoor deck and watch the sunset while taking in many of the live music acts they offer throughout the season.
For more information about the Kinzua-Wolf Run Marina, call 814-726-1650 or visit www.kinzuamarina.com. Additional information regarding picnic areas, beaches, fishing and licensing/permits can be found at www.visitANF.com. Reach a representative by telephone at 800-473-9370.