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Conoquenessing PA to Eckert Stop PA
The gauge on the Conoquenessing was down to only four feet, which is just 1-2' above normal for this time of year. Felt this was a good opportunity to explore sections of the Conney that are usually too shallow for a canoe. Found a path to a put-in spot near where Hartmann/Flood road meets RT528. While checking it out however, a camp owner across the creek shouted over that the bank is kinda steep on our side and graciously offered for us to drive over and use his property to launch! (Do not assume this is an open offer to anyone - please ask first) It was a real nice entry.
Had never done this upper section before so it was new to us. Because the river was up, we made good time.
Warning - about 3/4 mile from this put-in you'll come to a railroad bridge (the third bridge) DO NOT PASS UNDER THE RIGHT SIDE!. It ends in a huge blind strainer completely blocking passage. This could be very dangerous in higher water. The left side is passable, as we found after back-paddling out and going around.
The next few miles are a calm paddle past a lot of camps, with only some shallow riffles just beyond the Hartmann Road overpass. This is also a good launch point and possible camping spot. This is accessible from Hartmann Road by making the first left after crossing the bridge (coming from RT 68). Between here and the mouth of the Little Yellow Creek there are other possible camp sites on the right bank. These were formerly camps that were wiped out in the flood of (1994?) I don't know who now owns the land but don't think that low-impact overnight campers would cause any fuss.
There are a few shallow spots as you pass through Harmony & Zelienople, but all do-able when the river is at 3-4 feet. Check the gauge at:
After we passed Zelie there is a factory on the left - then it gives way to some semi-wilderness area with only the railroad tracks on the left bank. We found an island here where we intended to camp but the vegetation was really heavy and the ground muddy from the recent flood - but there is a small sandbar in the back channel behind the island that had just enough room for our tent and canoe - really nice! Again, check the river level as this bar is only 1' above the water level when the river is at 4' and definitely don't camp there if rain is in the forecast!
The next day we continued on - passing shortly under the RT528 overpass. Not far beyond it we came to a sharp left bend in the river. We could see whitewater and shallows on the right, so we elected to go on the left inside of the bend. This was probably the right decision - but we weren't prepared for the rock and hydraulics that await you there. We weren't prepared and in trying to avoid the rock - capsized. OOPS! (embarrassed) Nothing serious that experienced canoeists couldn't handle - you just can't see it until you're in it.
The next few miles are ok, with a couple of riffles around islands. We took out at the Eckert Stop over pass (Camp Run Road?) This is not an easy take-out spot. We were going to try the right side, which is steep and rocky, but then thought the right side looked easier. It wasn't - very slippery and deep quicksand-like mud. But we did it.
Thoroughly enjoyable trip - total on-river time was about seven hours, so this trip could be done in one day.
From I-79, take exit 88 and go West to stop sign at T intersection. Go right (south on RT 19 1/4 mile and make first right onto Fanker Road. Follow to end at (second) stop sign and T intersection with Route 288. Make a right, and an almost immediate left onto Old Furnace Road. Follow for approximately two miles to stop sign at railroad track, bridge on left is take-out point.
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