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Clarion River

The Clarion River is very picturesque. It is part of the federal Wild and Scenic River System, encompassing 52 miles in two sections from Ridgway to Piney Dam. Historically a very acidic stream, the Clarion's water quality has improved tremendously over the last thirty years to the point where the upper 8.5 miles of the river is classified as All Tackle Trophy Trout.

State Route 949 parallels much of the river. Canoes and small fishing boats are able to navigate much of the river during higher flows. During the summer, canoeing can be difficult due to long, shallow stretches. Portions of the river can be waded at this time. There are several canoe and small boat launches along the river.

In early spring, the Clarion River has four rapids. You'll find the first at mile 6 from Ridgway, near a railroad trestle. The second, third and fourth, at miles 15, 15-1/2 and 16, are known as rapids X, Y and Z. The 'chicken route' (safest) for all except X is to the extreme right. In X rapid, head down the middle. Love's Canoe Rentals in Ridgway provides a good map brochure. Warning: An underwater pipe just below the trestle may dump unwary canoeists.

You'll find this river scenic and interesting. You can rent canoes at many local liveries. Contact the Northwest PA Great Outdoors Visitor Bureau at 814-849-5197 or 800-348-9393 for local business information.

The fast water runs between Ridgway and Hallton, a distance of about 19 miles. Below Hallton, the route flattens out and becomes less challenging. The section from Ridgway has an 'intermediate' skill level rating until about mid-May. Later, it drops to 'novice'.

You can launch at Portland Mills (mile 9), Hallton (mile 19), Belltown (mile 27), Clear Creek State Park (mile 32), Cooks Forest State Park at route 36 bridge (mile 43), and Piney Dam at Clarion, route 322 bridge (mile 61).

Several good places to camp en route, although unmarked and without facilities, should be obvious from the water.