Best Views #4 – The Stonycreek Canyon

“Here, kayakers and rafters can find 15 rapids in four miles — the longest set of continuous rapids in the eastern United States.” – Mark Nale – Centre Daily Times

Kayakers in the Stonycreek Canyon, Johnstown, PA

Kayakers approaching the Carpenter’s Park put-in while navigating the Stonycreek Canyon

Without a doubt, the best way to enjoy the scenic views of the Stonycreek Canyon is by boat: kayak, canoe or raft, but you’re going to want more than a bit of experience and training to take on these world-class rapids. For more information on seeing this unparalled natural beauty while having the time of your life, check out the Benscreek Canoe Club. Boaters will tell you the Canyon runs four miles from Faustwell to Paint Creek, because that’s where the rapids are. Geologically, however, the steep mountain walls and narrow channel extend almost unabated to the Moxham flood plain.

View of the Stonycreek Canyon from above the McNally Bridge

View of the Stonycreek Canyon from above the McNally Bridge looking toward Faustwell, PA

This story has been two hundred million years in the making, 40 years in the planning, 25 years in the cleaning and 2 years in the writing. Erosion has been chewing away at the Allegheny Front for 2000 millenia, creating, arguably, some of the most scenic landscapes on the planet. Back in the seventies, one of the Komara brothers invited me on a raft trip down the Stony. Whoa! Who had ever heard of such a thing. Rafting on that putrid orange, poisoned river. Of course I signed on, and I’ve been trying to get back, on foot*, ever since. In 1991, seeing the potential, the Stonycreek-Conemaugh River Improvement Project(SCRIP) was created to address water quality problems in the Upper Conemaugh Basin, including the Stonycreek watershed. I began this series two years ago, not knowing that it would take so long to find the photographs I needed to complete this article.

Laurelight's series, Best Scenic Views of the Southern Allegheny Highlands, is inspired by the 
excellent article from Marcus Schneck published at PennLive.com.If you're interested in
travelling further afield than the Great Allegheny Mountain you should check out Mr. 
Schneck's article Pennsylvania's Best Views.

View of the Stonycreek Canyon and Border Dam

View of the Stonycreek Canyon and Border Dam

The goal has been to return to the Border Dam, and to find views from the surrounding hills that would do justice to nature’s spectacle. Stumbling up the aptly named Stonycreek River bed, to avoid trespassing on CSX property, briefly losing a hiking companion to the river’s torrents on an aborted expedition down from Faustwell, negotiating with property owners, scrambling up and down near vertical canyon walls, and skirting those hated yellow postings at all cost, all combined to provide the gallery presented here. I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed making them.

Best views, without all the muss and fuss:

  • Crossing the McNally Bridge from Richland to Conemaugh Townships and back again
  • From almost anywhere on Eisenhower Boulevard – the vistas will open up to you as you travel

*Travelling by boat would not have afforded the time necessary for photography and would have put my camera kit at risk.

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