Loyalhanna Trail Map Available
Inside the Outdoors, May 16
, 2014

Those interested in canoeing or kayaking down the Loyalhanna Creek now have the Loyalhanna Creek Pennsylvania Water Trail map available to them.

Thanks to the Loyalhanna Watershed Association as the official sponsor, this map and guide is ‘soaked’ full of information with which boaters and the general public can saturate their minds. It also serves as a historical document as people both young and old will discover the magnificence of the Laurel Highlands and realize its beauty.

Through the hands on investigating of Brad Clemenson of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council in Johnstown, all information was carefully gathered by him as he kayaked the Loyalhanna Creek from Ligonier to Saltsburg, studying the sights as waves propelled him toward a new direction of the unknown. Along his path, for example, he was able to photograph a great blue heron nesting in a tree, historical railroad bridges in Latrobe, and a stone pier remains from Carr Road Bridge adjacent to St. Rt. 981 opposite Keystone State Park, all of which are pictured on the map with designations just where they exist.

When asked about the map, Clemenson stated, “I was the driving force behind it. I shared my draft of the text with others. It took a little while, but with their cooperation, it was completed in about two years.”

By partnering with the LWA, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers, residents and tourists alike now have reference literature that can be useful for guidance, understanding or directions just where carry-in access information may be found, when sunrise and sunsets occur according to the months of the year, and hotels, inns and bed and breakfast establishments along the Loyalhanna Creek Trail.

Just by studying the icons, one can readily see warnings, for example. When nearing the Kingston Bridge Dam, it is highlighted in red lettering that boaters will be experiencing rough waters. It states, “Rough take out 300 feet upstream from Kingston Dam and rough put in downstream from the Dam river right. Scout first and use extreme caution.” Sleepy Hollow “causeway acts like a low head dam. Avoid water intake pipes. Portage River left.”

Not on the map but temporarily to be avoided is Murphy’s Bridge on Monastery Ave. in Latrobe. One is to stay clear of the construction site until July of next year as a new structure is replacing the old. It should be posted that no one is to enter 50 yards prior to the area or from 50 yards below. It is advised to remove one’s boat at the St. Rt. 982 Bridge and then transport it down Ave. E where one will experience a gate. Vehicles are not permitted past this point, so boats will have to be carried a short distance to the creek where they can be launched.

As canoeists and kayakers ride the waves toward their destination, they will encounter ‘a variety of paddling experiences: whitewater and moving flatwater through scenic ravines and still water on Loyalhanna Lake with open views of birds and wildlife.’

Clemensen writes, “The Loyalhanna is best paddled in the spring or after rain with at least 250 cubic feet per second of flow. The stream is a coldwater fishery above Kingston Dam and a warm-water fishery below the small, hazardous dam.”

Taking boaters down to the end of the creek, he stated, “The stream below the (Loyalhanna Lake) dam is isolated and picturesque. Call the army Corps of Engineers to have a gate opened to the tailrace access area or carry boats down a long hill to put in,” he said. “Paddle 5 miles and work upstream a short distance to take it out on the Conemaugh River’s far shore in Saltsburg, or paddle another 5 miles down the Kiski River from Saltsburg to Avonmore,” he stated.

In addition, it would literally take hours to fully ingest the entire datum.

The PFBC has a list of tips listed one must adhere to for safe boating. It also brings to light paddling safety, stewardship suggestions and the necessity of respecting landowners' privacy and rights.

This project was supported by grants from the Community Conservation Partnership Program, Environmental Stewardship fund of PA DCNR, and the Richard King Mellon and Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundations.

At the present, copies of the map and guide may be obtained at the Loyalhanna Watershed Association office, Mondays through Thursdays, the Latrobe Unity Parks and Recreation office in the City of Latrobe’s Administration Building, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission at the Somerset office and the Keystone State Park office. Several chamber of commerce offices and area outfitters and businesses will be carrying the Trail maps in the near future.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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