As summer and the main water sports season, is coming to a close, it’s not time to put your boats away yet. Early fall is a great time to explore the scenic streams of Central Pennsylvania. One such stream is Penns Creek, which flows from the region around Penns Cave until it reaches the Susquehanna River. A particularly scenic section of this stream takes you through a beautiful canyon and past Poe Paddy State Park. This segment of Penns Creek is approximately 10 miles long, with a good mix of small, Class 1— riffles and long, relaxing pools.
When I paddle this section, I begin at the Coburn tunnel, where there is a small pull-off and a fairly easy launch site. From there, you can leisurely float down the canyon, watching several great blue herons fly down the river, and admiring a few fern-covered hillsides along the way. About halfway down the river, you will float under a narrow bridge with a bike path on top of it, which leads to one of the Poe Paddy tunnels. This is quite an interesting spot to take a quick break and walk over the bridge to take a look at the tunnel. Directly downstream from this spot, the river bends into a horseshoe and hosts a fun string of small rapids (nothing dangerous or difficult).
Shortly before the takeout point, the river splits a couple times around small islands. In most instances, it won’t matter which side you choose to take, but beware of strainers (trees across the stream), as the river narrows. After the third split, keep your eyes out for the takeout, which will be at a Fish and Boat Commission parking area. When you do the shuttle and park one vehicle here, make sure you walk down to the stream and choose some landmarks to help you identify the takeout from the river, as the parking area is up a hill and it may be hard to see from the stream below.
Helena Kotala is an undergraduate student studying Geography at Penn State University, and Outings Chair for the Sierra Club Moshannon Group.