Region Has Many Waterways for Outdoors Recreation

little toby creekEarly summer – what a time to enjoy the outdoors!

The weather is finally nice, and it’s as good a time to be outside as any all year.

Birds, critters, snakes, and amphibians have or are going to give birth, and there’s really no better time to see wildlife of all varieties.

It’s also a time to be careful when dealing with wildlife.

Every year, many people mistakenly think baby wildlife have been abandoned and take them home; however, in the vast majority of cases, the babies are hiding while mom is feeding somewhere else.

So, it’s best to leave them all alone.

Besides – trying to take home a bear cub may prove hazardous to your health!

For me, it’s been awesome to be outside. We are lucky to live in a great area for outdoors recreation.

And, it’s only getting better.

Pollution control in the 1980s and 1990s has led to cleaner waterways, which has led to more and more ways to enjoy the outdoors.

Consider the wild and scenic Clarion River that flows through Elk and Clarion counties.

Only the uppermost reaches – the east and west branches – hold trout. Below Ridgway, you’d be lucky to find more than carp or suckers.

Today, the Clarion River is a good fishery for smallmouth bass as well as big, brown, and rainbow trout miles below Ridgway.

The turnaround in water quality has also spawned a remarkable growth in the bald eagle population.

Eagle sightings are almost becoming common on the Clarion River, and there are nests that most people don’t even know exist.

River otters have also been the beneficiaries of cleaner water and more fish.

Truly a treat to see, the otters are a ruthlessly efficient predator and a popular and playful mammal all wrapped into one.

Little Toby Creek in Jefferson County is another example of how cleaner water has improved recreational opportunities.

A few weeks ago, I put my kayak in the Toby where Little Vineyard Run enters. There is a parking area there maintained by the Pa. Game Commission, but currently no traditional boat launch.

It’s not too difficult to get a canoe or kayak from the parking area to the water, and I kayaked down to the Clarion River and took out at the Portland Mills launch/takeout.

The trip was between five and six miles, and while on the water, I saw a mature bald eagle three different times, some mallard ducks, and a number of red-headed mergansers.

Mallards are common, but mergansers are fish eaters, and their presence is a dead giveaway of ample fish populations. One of the mergansers even had a pair of young ones with it.

Venango County has the best to offer in the region in terms of recreational waterways.

It includes the Middle Allegheny River Water Trail, Conewango River Trail, and the French Creek Water Trail.

Add them all up, and it’s more than 100 miles of rivers that are ideal for boating, fishing, swimming, and wildlife watching.

Many of these also feature Rails to Trails, but that’s something to talk about for next week.

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