Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail In Pennsylvania

Here is everything you need to know about the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Pennsylvania
  • Length: 85 miles.
  • Type: Water trail.
  • Surface: Water
  • Managed By: Conemaugh Valley Conservancy
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website:

The Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail is a significant waterway located in western Pennsylvania, United States. The trail follows the Kiskiminetas and Conemaugh Rivers, which have played a crucial role in the region’s history. The water trail stretches for approximately 90 miles, offering a unique opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts to explore the area’s rich historical heritage.

The Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail has been an essential transportation route for centuries. Native American tribes, such as the Delaware and Shawnee, utilized these rivers for trade and travel long before European settlers arrived. In the late 18th century, European settlers recognized the strategic importance of the waterway and began establishing settlements along its banks.

During the 19th century, the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail became a vital transportation route for the booming coal and steel industries in the region. The rivers facilitated the movement of raw materials, such as coal and iron ore, to the industrial centers downstream. Additionally, the water trail served as a means of transporting finished goods, such as steel and manufactured products, to markets across the country.

The historical significance of the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail extends beyond transportation. The region witnessed several significant events during the American Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg, one of the most critical battles of the war, saw troops from both the Union and Confederate armies pass through the area. The rivers played a role in supplying troops and facilitating their movements during this tumultuous period.

Today, the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail stands as a testament to the region’s rich history. It offers visitors the opportunity to explore the remnants of old settlements, historic landmarks, and industrial sites that once thrived along its banks. The trail serves as a reminder of the vital role these rivers played in shaping the economic and cultural landscape of western Pennsylvania.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Johnstown Riverwalk Trailhead – Located in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, this trailhead provides access to the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail. It is a popular starting point for kayakers and canoers.

2. Conemaugh Dam – This access point is located near the Conemaugh Dam in Blairsville, Pennsylvania. It offers a convenient launch site for water enthusiasts looking to explore the Kiski-Conemaugh River.

3. Saltsburg Riverfront Park – Situated in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania, this trailhead provides easy access to the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail. It is a well-maintained park with ample parking and facilities.

4. Avonmore Riverfront Park – Located in Avonmore, Pennsylvania, this access point offers a scenic launch site for kayakers and canoers. It is a popular spot for fishing and picnicking as well.

5. Apollo Riverfront Park – Situated in Apollo, Pennsylvania, this trailhead provides access to the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail. It is a well-maintained park with a boat launch and picnic areas.

6. Vandergrift Riverfront Park – Located in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, this access point offers a convenient launch site for water enthusiasts. It is a popular spot for fishing and birdwatching.

7. Leechburg Riverfront Park – Situated in Leechburg, Pennsylvania, this trailhead provides access to the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail. It is a well-maintained park with a boat launch and picnic areas.

8. Freeport Riverfront Park – Located in Freeport, Pennsylvania, this access point offers a scenic launch site for kayakers and canoers. It is a popular spot for fishing and wildlife observation.

9. Natrona Riverfront Park – Situated in Natrona, Pennsylvania, this trailhead provides access to the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail. It is a well-maintained park with a boat launch and picnic areas.

10. Tarentum Riverfront Park – Located in Tarentum, Pennsylvania, this access point offers a convenient launch site for water enthusiasts. It is a popular spot for fishing and boating.

Transportation Available

1. Kiski Junction Railroad – Historic train rides along the Kiskiminetas River.
2. Conemaugh Valley Railroad – Scenic train excursions through the Conemaugh River Valley.
3. Kiski Area Transit – Local bus service connecting various towns along the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail.
4. Conemaugh Valley Transit – Public transportation serving communities near the Conemaugh River.
5. Kiski River Water Taxi – Water taxi service offering transportation along the Kiski River.
6. Conemaugh River Water Shuttle – Water shuttle service providing transportation along the Conemaugh River.
7. Kiski-Conemaugh River Shuttle – Shuttle service for kayakers and canoers along the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail.
8. Conemaugh River Trail Bike Shuttle – Shuttle service for cyclists along the Conemaugh River Trail.
9. Kiski-Conemaugh River Taxi – Taxi service operating on the Kiski and Conemaugh Rivers.
10. Conemaugh River Ferry – Ferry service for pedestrians and cyclists crossing the Conemaugh River.


The amenities available at the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail may vary depending on the specific location along the trail. However, here are some common amenities that can be found along the trail:

1. Restrooms: Some sections of the trail may have restroom facilities available for public use. These can be found at designated access points or nearby recreational areas.

2. Parking: There are parking areas provided at various access points along the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail. These parking lots allow visitors to park their vehicles and access the trail easily.

3. Camping Sites: Depending on the specific location, there may be designated camping sites along the water trail. These sites may offer amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to restroom facilities.

4. Picnic Areas: Along the trail, there may be designated picnic areas where visitors can enjoy a meal or have a picnic. These areas often have picnic tables, trash cans, and sometimes grills for cooking.

5. Boat Launches: The Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail provides access for boaters, and there may be boat launches available at certain points along the trail. These launches allow boaters to easily put their boats into the water and start their journey.

6. Fishing Access: The water trail is known for its fishing opportunities, and there may be designated fishing access points along the trail. These areas provide easy access to the water for anglers.

7. Interpretive Signage: Throughout the trail, there may be interpretive signage that provides information about the natural and cultural history of the area. These signs offer educational opportunities for visitors.

It is recommended to check with local authorities or the official website of the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail for specific amenities available at different sections of the trail.

Nearby Services

1. Riverside Inn – Charming riverside lodging with a restaurant and bar.
2. Quality Inn & Suites – Comfortable hotel offering amenities such as a pool and free breakfast.
3. Holiday Inn Express – Modern hotel with a fitness center and complimentary breakfast.
4. Hampton Inn – Convenient hotel with a business center and free Wi-Fi.
5. Comfort Inn – Affordable hotel with a complimentary breakfast and pet-friendly rooms.
6. Super 8 by Wyndham – Budget-friendly motel with basic amenities and free parking.
7. Subway – Fast-food chain serving sandwiches and salads.
8. McDonald’s – Popular fast-food restaurant offering burgers, fries, and more.
9. Pizza Hut – Casual pizza chain with delivery and takeout options.
10. Sheetz – Convenience store with a variety of food options and fuel services.
11. Dollar General – Discount store offering basic groceries and household items.
12. Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center – Full-service hospital providing emergency medical care.

Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail Difficulty Notes

The Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail offers a moderate difficulty level for paddlers. With a mix of calm stretches and occasional rapids, it provides a balanced experience for both beginners and experienced paddlers. The trail’s difficulty can vary depending on water levels and weather conditions, making it important to check conditions before embarking on the journey. While some sections may require maneuvering around fallen trees or rocks, overall, the trail offers a manageable challenge that allows paddlers to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Kiski-Conemaugh River while still providing a sense of adventure.

Features And Attractions

The Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail is a scenic waterway located in western Pennsylvania. Along the trail, you can find various scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and more. Here are some notable points of interest along the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail:

1. Conemaugh Dam: This large dam on the Conemaugh River offers beautiful views and is a popular spot for fishing and boating.

2. Conemaugh Gap: Located near Johnstown, the Conemaugh Gap is a picturesque area where the river cuts through the mountains, creating stunning views.

3. Johnstown Flood National Memorial: This memorial commemorates the devastating Johnstown Flood of 1889, which claimed the lives of over 2,200 people. It offers a museum, exhibits, and a visitor center.

4. Horseshoe Curve: Although not directly on the water trail, the Horseshoe Curve is a famous railroad landmark located near Altoona. It offers panoramic views of trains passing through a horseshoe-shaped curve.

5. Saltsburg: This charming town along the Kiskiminetas River features historic buildings, including the Saltsburg Canal Park, which showcases the town’s canal history.

6. Roaring Run Natural Area: This scenic area near Apollo features a beautiful waterfall, hiking trails, and picnic spots. It is a great place to explore nature along the water trail.

7. Vandergrift Historic District: This National Historic District in Vandergrift showcases the town’s unique architecture and industrial heritage. It is worth exploring for history enthusiasts.

8. Leechburg: This riverside town offers a historic district with well-preserved Victorian-era buildings. It is a great place to stroll and admire the architecture.

9. Kiski Junction Railroad: Located near Schenley, this historic railroad offers scenic train rides along the Kiskiminetas River. It is a unique way to experience the water trail.

10. Keystone State Park: Situated near Derry, this state park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including boating, fishing, hiking, and camping. It is a great place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

These are just a few examples of the scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks along the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail. Exploring the trail will provide you with many more opportunities to discover the beauty and history of this region in Pennsylvania.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Camping is only permitted in designated areas along the water trail.
3. Fires are only allowed in designated fire pits or grills.
4. Littering is strictly prohibited. Please pack out all trash and dispose of it properly.
5. Fishing is allowed, but make sure to follow all state fishing regulations and obtain the necessary permits.
6. Motorized boats are allowed on certain sections of the water trail, but be mindful of speed limits and other boaters.
7. Respect private property and do not trespass on any land along the water trail.
8. During certain seasons, there may be restrictions on water activities due to weather conditions or maintenance work. Check for any seasonal restrictions before planning your trip.
9. Be aware of any potential hazards such as fallen trees, rocks, or rapids along the water trail.
10. Practice Leave No Trace principles and minimize your impact on the environment.

Seasonal Information

The Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail, located in western Pennsylvania, offers a picturesque and serene experience for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. The best times of the year to visit this water trail are during the spring and fall seasons. In the spring, the surrounding landscape comes alive with vibrant colors as the trees and flowers bloom, creating a stunning backdrop for your paddling adventure. The weather during this time is generally mild, making it comfortable for both beginners and experienced paddlers.

During the fall, the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail transforms into a breathtaking display of autumn foliage. The vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow paint the landscape, providing a truly magical experience. The cooler temperatures during this season also make it an ideal time to explore the water trail, as you can enjoy the beauty of nature without the summer heat.

It is important to note that the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail has seasonal closures and restrictions. The water trail is typically open from April to October, with the peak season being from May to September. However, it is always recommended to check with the local authorities or visitor centers for the most up-to-date information on closures and restrictions.

During the winter months, the water trail may be closed due to freezing temperatures and ice formation, which can make paddling unsafe. It is also worth noting that heavy rainfall or storms can cause temporary closures or restrictions on the water trail. Therefore, it is advisable to plan your visit accordingly and stay informed about any potential closures or changes in conditions.

Overall, the best times to visit the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail are during the spring and fall seasons when the weather is pleasant, and the natural beauty of the surroundings is at its peak. However, it is always important to stay updated on closures and restrictions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the water trail.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Launch Sites: The water trail provides designated launch sites that are accessible for wheelchair users, allowing them to easily enter and exit the water.
2. Accessible Restrooms: ADA-compliant restrooms are available along the water trail, ensuring that individuals with disabilities have convenient access to facilities.
3. Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces are provided near the water trail, allowing individuals with disabilities to park their vehicles in close proximity to the launch sites.
4. Accessible Trails: The water trail features accessible trails that are designed to accommodate wheelchair users, providing a smooth and barrier-free pathway for exploration.
5. Accessible Picnic Areas: ADA-compliant picnic areas are available along the water trail, allowing individuals with disabilities to enjoy outdoor dining and recreational activities.
6. Accessible Fishing Platforms: The water trail offers accessible fishing platforms that are designed to accommodate wheelchair users, providing equal opportunities for everyone to enjoy fishing.
7. Accessible Signage: Clear and visible signage is installed along the water trail, ensuring that individuals with visual impairments can easily navigate and access different areas.
8. Accessible Information: Information about the water trail, including maps and brochures, is available in accessible formats such as large print or braille, ensuring equal access to information for all visitors.
9. Accessible Camping Facilities: ADA-compliant camping facilities are provided near the water trail, allowing individuals with disabilities to enjoy overnight stays in a comfortable and accessible environment.
10. Accessible Rental Equipment: Wheelchair-accessible kayaks or canoes, as well as other adaptive equipment, may be available for rent, allowing individuals with disabilities to fully participate in water activities along the trail.

Safety Information

Info not available.

Conservation Notes

The conservation status of the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail is of significant concern due to various factors impacting the health and sustainability of the ecosystem. The water trail, spanning approximately 90 miles in southwestern Pennsylvania, is home to diverse flora and fauna, making it an important natural resource. However, the trail faces several conservation challenges that require immediate attention.

One of the primary concerns is water pollution. The Kiski-Conemaugh River system is subjected to pollution from various sources, including industrial discharges, agricultural runoff, and urban development. These pollutants can have detrimental effects on water quality, leading to the degradation of aquatic habitats and the decline of sensitive species. Efforts are being made to address this issue through the implementation of stricter regulations and the promotion of sustainable practices.

Another significant conservation issue is the presence of invasive species. Non-native plants and animals, such as the notorious water chestnut and zebra mussels, can outcompete native species, disrupt the natural balance, and degrade the overall health of the ecosystem. Controlling and managing these invasive species is crucial to preserving the biodiversity and ecological integrity of the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail.

Furthermore, habitat loss and degradation pose a threat to the conservation status of the water trail. Urbanization, deforestation, and land development have resulted in the destruction of critical habitats along the riverbanks. This loss of habitat can have severe consequences for wildlife populations, including the disruption of migration routes and the reduction of suitable breeding grounds. Conservation efforts are focused on protecting and restoring these habitats to ensure the long-term viability of the ecosystem.

In conclusion, the conservation status of the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail is currently under pressure due to water pollution, invasive species, and habitat loss. It is essential to address these challenges through collaborative efforts involving government agencies, local communities, and conservation organizations. By implementing effective conservation strategies, we can safeguard the ecological health and sustainability of this valuable water trail for future generations.

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