What to bring
Change of clothes, towel, bug spray, sunscreen, drinking water, snacks or lunch, waterproof camera, watershoes or a pair of good sturdy sneakers-no flip flops, hat, sunglasses, tick key or other tick remover.
If camping - camping gear and food. We haven't had a problem with snakes but a snakebite kit might be a good idea. Things you would normally take camping placed in waterproof bags. Wet sleeping bags are like sleeping in a wet envelope. Weather appropriate clothing, some mornings are cold.
Always wear a life vest.
Top photo-stepping stones between Shawville and Deer Creek. Bottom Photo just below Raftsmans Dam in Clearfield, PA
from/to destination distance estimated PADDLING time
Some trips require lengthy drives.
Mahaffey to Curwensville Lake. 20 miles up to 8+ hours
Start at Starlight restaurant. From here to Bower is the steepest drop with Chest Falls.
At 5 feet (Bower gage) it is fairly safe for moderate paddlers. Each inch of river height changes the difficulty. Above 6 feet you should have self rescue skills as there can be long wave trains and steep drops enveloping you in river foam, leaving you not to sure , which way is up. Meaning- pretty scary. Or exciting if you are a little or a lot crazy. Next steepest drop is at Watts bottom. A little ways after that the river, backed up by Curwensville Lake gets very slow. You feel as you will never reach the end. Sometimes the wind pushes you back upstream. Don't be too disheartened... There are several point to exit the river in this stretch. Camp Corbly road bridge, Curry Run bridge, Bells Landing Park, Lumber City bridge with a long climb to the road or to the Canoe launch at Curwensville Lake. Car portage necessary to continue downriver from Curwensville.
Curwensville to Clearfield 9 miles 3 1/2 hours
Start Irvin Park or Civic Center in Curwensville. Easy stretch that mostly follows Rails to Trails. Watch for boons from the logging era. Watch for ring rocks. Exit Lower Witmer Park. Portage around Raftsmans Dam either side. Do not try to paddle through. Dangerous low head dam.
You can shorten this at several points- Porter (hogback) Bridge, Susquehanna bridge, Hyde Bridge, or along River road near the railroad tracks.
Clearfield to Shawville 11 miles 4 1/2 hours
Starting on left bank at Elliotts Park- named for John Crisman's dog. A lot of sweat has turned an overgrown weed bank into a beautiful respite to picnic, fish and launch canoes and kayaks to head downriver. If you see John out be sure to thank him. A more remote stretch that winds itself through some gorgeous scenery. Watch for Bald eagles, deer, and other wildlife. Pause to explore a tunnel or two on your trip. I-80 bridges are about 2/3 of the way downriver. Exit on left bank below fenced area across from Shawville Power Generating Station. We are near here. Portage required-by car recommended. Contact us to help.
Shawville to Millstone Run. 1 1/2 miles.
If you are only looking for and hour or so of just paddling around. Get in behind Shawville store or church. Out on right bank where Millstone Run comes in. Or get in and out at Millstone run by paddling upstream and floating back downstream.
Shawville to Deer Creek (Frenchville) 15 miles 5 1/2 hours
Another remote and winding stretch with unparalleled beauty has easy calm waters floating between giant boulders to sometimes exciting ripples. Stepping Stones, placed here by giants of a bygone era used today by bigfoot to play hopscotch across the river-writers imagination at work-paddle around and through them and use your own imagination as you create your own story as to the placement of these magnificent structures. Exit river right or river left just above Deer Creek Bridge. All boats exiting right bank must sport a PA Fish and Boat Launch Permit.
Deer Creek to Rolling Stone 6 miles 2 1/2 hours
Shorter easy stretch where you will see a few camps. Look for RING ROCKS left by lumbermen of a bygone era. Stop at Alder Run, climb up into the pines, and marvel at how two very different worlds can be so close. Take out Rolling Stone bridge right bank.
Rolling Stone to Karthaus 11 miles 5 hours
One of the Steepest drops on the West Branch Susquehanna River is more challenging depending on water levels. Boulders were blasted to the sides to make room for timber rafts on way to market causing water to funnel and create wave trains. Then comes Moshannon Falls. You can always exit on right at head of the falls to scout or portage around them. Once past the falls water slows down as the river widens. Exit River left at DCNR launch site. Ample parking for big groups at Karthaus. Walk to Bentons Market to resupply for your trip downstream. Here and Renovo are the only stops once you leave Clearfield until Lock Haven.
Karthaus to Keating 22 miles 7-8 hours
A longer slower stretch with few technical surprises except Buttermilk Falls. Though fish in the river here are sparse many of the tributaries hold feisty native trout. A hike up Bougher Run will lead you to an 8 foot waterfall where you may cool off under original running water. Others offer hikes to scenic vistas. Paddle up Sinnemahoning Creek to take out. On your left as you go against the flow.
Keating to North Bend 17 miles 6 1/2 hours
This stretch mostly follows the RR tracks as you head toward Renovo or North Bend to finish 80 miles of Wilderness from Clearfield. Exit river left both locations. Limited parking at North Bend.
There are more trips than these. Trip times vary depending on water levels, paddling skills, weather conditions. They are also PADDLING times-not floating times.
A boy scout merit badge can be earned by completing the trip between Clearfield and North Bend. The badge "80 Miles of Wilderness" can be earned by everyone and is based on a book of the same name. Contact DuBois Council BSA for more info on this. Phone McCracken's Canoe @ 814-765-1410 after hours 814-496-9220.