Southwestern Pa. home to kayaking, canoeing opportunities

Ellen Matis

Photo by Jonathan Crowe

The opening of a kayaking and canoeing rental facility this season in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania, has added another opportunity for outdoor recreation in the western PA region.

Saltsburg Kayak and Canoe Outfitters, which opened Memorial Day weekend, is one of four boat and recreation rental facilities.

Right now, they’re offering kayak rentals and shuttle service that start at the Conemaugh Dam and let boaters float back to Saltsburg for $28. They have canoe rentals for $45.

“As we get busy we’ll customize the trips and add more trips in,” Gray said.They plan on offering unique packages to tourist groups that visit the area. They also will be adding on services for tandem kayak rentals and bicycle rentals.

The facility is mainly doing excursions on weekends, but Cheryl Gray, one of three people helping to breathe new life with the business in the historic Altman Mill, said weekday trips can be planned upon request on www.saltsburgkayak.com, or by calling (724) 252-8520.

Here are other facilities that provide water recreational services in the area:

Two Dam Kayak Rentals, Saltsburg

Located at Marshall’s Market on State Route 981, Two Dam Kayak offers a rental and shuttle service to the Conemaugh Dam and pick-up at the River’s Edge in Saltsburg.

There are no time restrictions for the trip during the hours that the market is open, said owner Jan Termin. However, the website states that the trip takes usually between three and five hours.

Because Two Dam is owned by Marshall’s Market, Termin said that they’re able to offer lower rates on rentals.

“We pay no rent or overhead,” she said. Plus, she said that you can grab hot or cold food, drinks, bagged ice and ice cream before or after your trip.

Kayak rentals with shuttle service are $25. And, for $10, they will shuttle you and your own kayaks for the excursion.

NorthWest Kayak and Canoe Rentals, New Alexandria

A private business based through the state at Keystone State Park, NorthWest Kayak and Canoe rents boats and has a camp store.

Elizabeth Shaffer, manager of the boat rental facility, said boat rentals are for use on Keystone Lake, where they see a lot of campers and locals alike.

NorthWest offers rentals of kayaks, tandem kayaks, canoes, rowboats with or without motors, peddle boats and stand-up paddleboards. Prices range from $10 to $80 an hour, depending on the amount of time they’re used.

There’s a time limit of eight hours for rentals, and pricing is available on their website, www.northwestkayakandcanoe.com.

“It’s a great experience, especially for families and young children to come out here and rent boats,” Shaffer said. “It’s a nice family bonding activity.”

Saltsburg River and Trail, Avonmore

Saltsburg River & Trail relocated from Saltsburg to Avonmore in June 2015, and marks its 17th year of business this year.

Patrick McFarland, owner, said last year he bought a piece of property in Robinson, allowing the business to offer services in a variety of areas. The facility offers rentals of kayaks, tandem kayaks and canoes from Blairsville to Packsaddle Gap, where the Conemaugh River cuts through Chestnut Ridge, or from the Conemaugh Dam to Saltsburg.

Rentals are $35 for a single kayak or $45 for a tandem kayak or canoe.

“This is our 17th year and we’re still going strong,” McFarland said. “Our goal is that we cater to people to give them the most enjoyable experience possible.”

He recommends making reservations “to make everything smoother for people going down the river.”

While their website, www.rivtrail.com, is under construction, reservations can be made at rivtrail@comcast.net or by calling (724) 639-1314.

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