Boating and Kayaking
Pennsylvania is second only to Alaska in the number of miles of streams in one state. It is also blessed with an abundance of lakes and ponds, many of which are located within state forests. All Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission rules and regulations apply within state forests.
Canoeing on Pennsylvania's streams has a long history dating back to the Native Americans. European settlers used the streams for transportation and most of our first towns started on their banks. Today, many of Pennsylvania's stream banks have been cleared and developed. However, many miles of Pennsylvania's state forest streams are still relatively wild and remote. There are 5,132 miles of rivers and streams on state forest land. Potentially, many of these waters are navigable and open to canoeing and kayaking. Six state forests have developed water trails on waters that transect state forest. The water trails are more fully described in the individual forest supplements. This link delivers real-time information on stream flow that can aid in determining whether or not a stream or river may be navigable for you type of vessel.
Boating typically occurs on the lakes and ponds, although some of the larger rivers on state forest land are good for boating too. The Bureau of Forestry has several lakes and ponds larger than five acres that can be used for boating along with many smaller ponds. The Bureau of Forestry has district public-use maps that show state forest lakes, access roads and parking areas. See boating guidelines for the permits required.
Rafting occurs mostly on the white water stretches of state forest streams. The most notable of which is the Pine Creek through the Pennsylvania Grand canyon where private companies typically provide the rafts. The Bureau of Forestry has developed launch sites, parking and camping facilities along the Pine Creek.
For boating rules and regulations please visit the boating section of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
The Bureau of Forestry also has management responsibilities of all unwarranted and unpatented rivers islands in the State. These islands offer some excellent recreational opportunities. Today, the Bureau partners with several volunteer groups that design, develop and maintain river islands trails throughout the Commonwealth. These volunteers also serve as trail stewards for maintenance, monitoring resource impacts and tracking public use. Many of these river island groups produce maps and brochures describing the trail. The trail maps will show access sites and river islands designated for day use and primitive camping.
For detailed maps and information on each forest district and what boating opportunities they have to offer please visit Find a Forest.