West Branch Susquehanna - time to float Karthaus to Keating in low flow - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-18-2017, 05:28 PM Thread Starter
klb
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West Branch Susquehanna - time to float Karthaus to Keating in low flow

I'm planning an overnight canoe trip on the West Branch of the Susquehanna for the last weekend in July - probably the Karthaus to Keating section - I know, its late in the season and the river needs to be above 2 feet at Karthaus - pray for some rain next week for me.

It will be me and my almost 9 year old son in a canoe, and a friend in his kayak. I'm concerned that stretch will be too long of a trip in lower water. I'd like to get on the water early Saturday morning, stop briefly for lunch, but be at our camping site by 3 PM ish or so on Saturday - I figure 6-7 hours is plenty of time to be in a canoe in one day, especially for my son's first trip. My goal is not to cover as many river miles as humanly possible. Can we reasonably expect to cover 14-15 river miles on Saturday in that time frame? It's just been too long since I've done such a canoe trip to be confident how long it could take. I don't want to be on the river at 6 pm with miles to go. And I want to leave us a much shorter trip on Sunday given our respective drives home.

I'd appreciate any help you can provide, especially from folks who have done this float.

I will be calling McCracken Canoe Sales to get their help - I missed them today. Their website suggests 7-8 hours for the whole 22 miles.

If you have any suggested alternative stretches or rivers, especially if the West Branch there is too low, please share as well. Our goals are manageable float with excellent scenery away from civilization, legal camping Saturday largely by ourselves, middle of PA, fishing at least part of the trip or where we camp.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-18-2017, 06:13 PM
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If the river is low, don't go.

Dragging canoes isn't fun. I've done some of that on the West Branch and elsewhere and wouldn't care to do it again.

If flows are good, I think an estimate of about 2 1/2 miles per hr is about right.

I've floated that section 3 times and it's a nice trip.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-18-2017, 07:28 PM
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The river is unusually high now, it's been high almost all spring and summer. Muddy now too. I was looking at it at Karthus today, I don't think I'd want to set out in it now. I've done the Karthus to Renova run a couple times. Makes for a good overnighter. Shoot for the mouth of Fields or Yost run to camp. Every stream flowing into the West Branch has brookies in it, but I don't know how hard the canoe folks work them over. Really remote area....once you go past River Hill Coal's cleaning plant, you won't see much sign of people, other than a couple camps, until you hit West Keating. The old New York Central Railroad parallels the river, I think Conrail still uses it. But it's been a while since I heard or saw any train traffic. Also, expect zero cell service once you get away from Karthus. Have fun and Good luck to you.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-18-2017, 08:11 PM
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According to the book "Keystone Canoeing" the gauge at Karthaus should be at least 2 ft.

And it's now 2.82 ft. So that isn't high or dangerous. That should be good.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-19-2017, 01:40 PM
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Yes the upper end of the WB has gotten about 7 inches of rain over the past 2 weeks so it's flowing very strong for mid July. You'd have no issues canoing right now or for a good 2 weeks I'm sure.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-19-2017, 03:20 PM
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I concur. The river is just about perfect right now and with a lot more rain in the forecast, I don't think youll have many problems.

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-20-2017, 11:03 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks all. With the rain forecast, I think we'll be okay to start out on 7/29, but I'll be watching weather and stream gauges all next week. Big Brownie - I sent you a PM with some follow up questions on camping.

I also wanted to mention I spoke at length with Dave from McCracken's Canoe and Kayak Sales in Clearfield and he was a tremendous help re our plans and logistics.
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