Pennsylvania Great Outdoors: Wild & Scenic Waterways

Less than one-quarter of one percent of the United States’ rivers are protected under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and Pennsylvania’s Great Outdoors region is fortunate to contain two of its prize gems, the Clarion and Allegheny Rivers, along with hundreds of miles of other beautiful waterways.

French explorers originally dubbed the Allegheny River “La Belle Rivière” or “The Beautiful River” for its picturesque route through the Allegheny Mountains, and 87 miles of it in northwest Pennsylvania have been protected by the act for recreational purposes.


The Allegheny winds through narrow forested valleys and across broad rural landscapes, and more than 100 undeveloped islands dot its path, including seven in the Allegheny Islands Wilderness near Tionesta that allow overnight camping. Canoers, kayakers, and tubers can float the river throughout the year except in extreme conditions, and power boaters and water skiers can find nine miles of horsepower-friendly twists and turns at Pool 9 near East Brady. The Allegheny also offers anglers year-round opportunities to enjoy excellent muskellunge and walleye fishing.

Portions of the Clarion River, a tributary of the Allegheny, have similarly been designated as scenic and recreational. The river meanders for more than 100 miles past undisturbed forests and steep-sided hills, and it creates a remote sense of isolation while still providing multiple easily accessed launch points. Kayak and canoe liveries in Cooksburg and Ridgway provide rentals and shuttle services to make floating the river easy for visitors.


For those looking for more of a thrill, the river’s Piney Dam area welcomes power boaters and water skiers. The Clarion was honored as 2019 Pennsylvania River of Year and was also featured on the U.S. Postal Service’s Wild and Scenic Rivers stamp. The northern Clarion is famous for trophy brown trout and the entire river system is teeming with fish and wildlife.

In Cameron and Elk Counties, the Sinnemahoning watershed with Bennett Branch, Driftwood Branch, and Sinnemahoning Creek combining to provide more than 75 miles of seasonal paddling routes. At Sinnemahoning State Park in Cameron County, the George B. Stevenson Reservoir spans nearly three miles of shoreline, and the boat mooring area offers great views of bald eagles and ospreys seeking fish. During the summer, the park offers interpretive pontoon boat rides that detail the wildlife and geography of the area.

Find everything you need to plan your adventure on one of the waterways in Pennsylvania’s Great Outdoors region online at


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