Clarion River, Pennsylvania, US
|Usual Difficulty||I(II) (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||6 fpm|
|Max Gradient||10 fpm|
|Clarion River at Cooksburg, PA|
|usgs-03029500||300 - 10000 cfs||I(II)||01h25m||1930 cfs (running)|
There is camping at Cooks Forest State Park, Clear Creek State Park, and several campgrounds in the National Forest. Primitive camping is allowed in most of the National Forest and there are a few sites right beside the river between Clarington and Irwin Run.
Access is good, with a road running on river right from Cooksburg to Irwin Run. There are dozens of spots to park and put in, as well as several canoe launches. At Arroyo bridge there is a parking area and put in where the road crosses the river. There is another canoe launch area just east of Portland Mills on route 949.
There are four or five canoe liveries on the Clarion, mostly down towards Cooksburg (the shallow
end of this reach), with one upstream at Clarington. On summer weekends the river near Cooksburg
is crowded with paddlers dragging heavy aluminum rental canoes through the shallows, so stick to
the upper half. My favorite part would be from Portland Mills to Irwin Run canoe launch - about 8
miles with 5 fun little rapids to play in.
If you want to paddle the downstream section from the end of the reservoir to the Allegheny you'll have to rely on releases from the Piney Dam. It's a scenic, isolated valley with small rapids that isn't paddled often because of the unpredictable releases. Call the dam at (814) 226-8630 to find out when they release, or watch the USGS guage and try to guess from the pattern what's going to happen.