The Clarion is a tributary to the Allegheny River, itself a wild and scenic river, joining it in Clarion County just south of the town of Emlenton. In the early 1800's, the Clarion was used to transport timber to the Allegheny River. The steeply forested hillsides of almost continuous mature deciduous and coniferous vegetation contribute to a feeling of remoteness in many places along the river.
Although regulated by the Army Corps of Engineers, streamflow is sufficient to accommodate recreation uses such as canoeing, fishing, and swimming in the Clarion River year-round downstream from Ridgway to the backwater of Piney Dam.
October 19, 1996. From the Allegheny National Forest/State Game Lands Number 44 boundary, approximately 0.7 miles downstream from the Ridgway Borough limit, to an unnamed tributary at the backwaters of Piney Dam, approximately 0.6 miles downstream from Blyson Run.
The Clarion River has a high regional draw for floating (canoeing, kayaking, and tubing) for several reasons: it has a longer season than other rivers in the area; it is relatively accessible to the public; and it is considered a Class I river. The river gets a high amount of use in the summer during times of low flows. People are willing to traverse the river even knowing that they will have to drag their canoes in extremely shallow areas. There is an opportunity for a variety of float trips available to people with their own canoes as well as through a livery service. Day trips are common as well as overnighters.
The Clarion River attracts more than canoeists; it is also an attraction for picnicking, sightseeing, camping, watching wildlife, birding, fishing, and hiking. A variety of recreational facilities in the Allegheny National Forest, the Borough of Ridgway, and at Cook Forest and Clear Creek State Parks support the river-based recreation.
The scenery, the feeling of remoteness, accessibility, the variety of recreation activities possible, and ease of canoeing of the Clarion River for novices combine to provide a significant recreation experience in this region. In addition, the wealth of historic resources (logging, railroads, tanning, and chemical wood) within the river corridor provide an opportunity for interpretation and education.
The Clarion River Valley has a unique, visual quality with its diverse and mature vegetation, steep slopes, sinuous channel, and varying water conditions. The river, meandering through this mostly undeveloped scene, provides recreationists with spectacular views and a sense of isolation. The changing character of the water, from smooth to riffling as the river flows over and around large boulders scattered along the river, adds to the visual quality.