The Ultimate Guide for Kayaking the Allegheny River

Starting out in the north of Pennsylvania near Coudersport, the Allegheny River takes a little swing through New York State and ends its natural beauty trail back at the Allegheny Reservoir. It’s a massive territory to cover, which gives you all the more reason to plan your kayaking trip down to the last T.


In this post, we’ll show you what to keep in mind and what to steer clear of, all in the effort of helping you plan the most memorable Allegheny paddling trip you’ve ever embarked on!


Allegheny River – Fast Facts

River Length:                          321 miles

Average Trip Duration:          2-14 days, depending on your pace

River Sections:                       Upper, upper-middle, middle, lower-middle, and lower section

Difficulty Level:                     Easy

Starting Point:                         Pennsylvania


Before You Paddle

  • The Allegheny has a constant, steady pace, and has been known as a river that, at times, requires little to no paddling. This does not mean that it’s rapid-free though: the area after Allegheny Outfitters is home to a few rapids that might get your heart racing a bit.
  • Water levels have been known to drop suddenly and dramatically between Warren and Emlenton.
  • Power boats and jet skis are known to be a hazard near the Pittsburgh section of the river, so keep your eyes wide open while in the area.
  • As with all kayaking trips, if you’re planning to camp out, make sure you’ve packed all the essentials, enough water and food, and that you’re good to rough it out in the primitive campsites for a few days.
  • The Zebra Mussel is a species of mussel that has all but taken over the river system, and as such, is classified as a “pest”. Make sure you dry out your equipment for at least 5 days after use to avoid spreading the plague.


The Trip at a Glance

  • If you’re keen on undertaking an easy 2-day trip, the best route to take would be from Franklin to Emlenton or Kinzua Dam to Tidioute.
  • The stretch between Franklin and Emlenton offers a more secluded experience since the area isn’t known for its many camping spots.
  • If you’re paddling at a slower pace and would like to extend your trip a little, you could always take on the trip from Kinzua Dam to Tionesta. Another option to consider if you’re looking to plan a 4-day trip is the route from Tidioute to Kennerdale.
  • For the long-haulers: the paddle out from Warren (which is accessed at Point Park) up to Neville Island takes a good 2 weeks to complete.

Fishing on the Allegheny

The Allegheny River is a paradise for those looking to try their luck at catching some large catfish since there are many holes in the river way that are filled with catfish. Smallmouth bass and walleye are found in abundance in the Tionesta area if you’re planning on paddling out there.


Camping Options

The river banks are lined with roughly 100 small islets which span the river’s expanse. You’re free to camp out on one of them for the night, unless of course they are marked as Private Property.

If you’re looking for an official camping spot, try Buckaloons National Forest Recreation Area.


What About Shuttle Services?

There are a lot of shuttle services that operate at most of the popular launching spots like Kinzua Dam. This makes it easy for paddlers to take their cars out to the landing areas. There are also portaging services around the low-water areas of the river which can lend a helping hand if you get a little too close to the rock level.


Is the Allegheny River a Family-Friendly Destination?

That kind of depends on what you’re planning on doing and what your pace looks like, but overall, yes. With plenty of fishing opportunities, kayak rentals, shuttle services and a river that’s easy to paddle, the area is perfectly safe for families to get recreational in.


What is The Best Time To Go?

Look, since the Kinzua Dam’s constant water release ensures a steady water level on the Allegheny all year round; the river is pretty much a year-round paddling destination. Generally speaking though, summer months are better suitable for novices and family paddling tours since the water flows at roughly 2-3 miles per hour this time of the year.


Allegheny River Points of Interest

  • The Kinzua Dam and Visitor Center offers a pretty cool look at the world of hydroelectricity.
  • Point Park is located at the point where Conewango Creek flows into the Allegheny, and offers a boat access, a few picnic spots and a day-use pavilion.
  • For a quaint little picnic, you might want to consider heading out to Crescent Park, located on the left bank of the middle-river.
  • Buckaloons Recreation Area offers direct river access, great campsites, bathrooms, and a boat launch area among many other amenities.



Need More Info?

While we’ve covered heaps and bounds of info on the Allegheny, we’re always keen on sharing some awesome resources. If you need more info to plan your trip down to the T, check out these links:

  • For maps of all 5 sections of the river, follow this link.
  • For more info on the river and its paddling details, check out this post.
  • For guided tours and the likes, you might be interested in Allegheny Outfitters.
  • To get an indication of the public lands (islands) which are suitable for overnight camping trips, you can visit the Leave No Trace website.


And that’s it! All you need to know about the Allegheny River to help you plan one unforgettable paddling trip!