Planning an entire river paddle

My brother and I are setting a goal to paddle a river in its entirety. I’m sure others have done something similar. We are in the early stages of planning looking for advice on where to start ! We won’t be doing it all at once as we both lead busy schedules but just wanting to reach out and see if people have advice. The river we are planning is the Allegheny in Pennsylvania.
Thanks in advance.

Hard to paddle the headwaters because they are usually narrow little rivulets with lots of gradient.

Colin Fletcher famously took a raft from the the headwaters of the Green River in Wyoming to the confluence with the Colorado River through Grand Canyon to the Gulf of Mexico in his book “River.”

I’d suggest if you can visiting some of the many outfitters along the river on a day where they aren’t too busy. Most are happy to give advice. If you search online there are many water trail maps and guides available.

Keep in mind many public launch sites in Pennsylvania require a state permit.

If you’ve never paddled the entire river in sections, get yourself a good detailed road map (a gazetteer, for example) and, before departure, drive the route stopping at all the bridges. Look for spots where you’re in or near a town with a grocery or convenience stores where you can resupply with food or other necessities (and spots where you could “bail out” in case of really bad weather or illness). Take notes (in order from upstream to down) and carry the notebook with you on the trip.
You’ll be carrying camping/cooking stuff the whole way, but if you don’t have to carry food for the entire time out, if you can resupply along the way, it can save you a few headaches. Carrying a lot of extra stuff can really be an inconvenience if you encounter river-width strainers and you have to haul around - especially if they’re in places where the banks are steep ans slippery.

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Most importantly, what knd of paddle craft do you already have experience in/do you intend to use?

Extended expedition canoeing and expedition kayaking are two somewhat different balls of wax–Both in how you pack/prepare and craft handling.

I say this as someone who has "done"the entire Delaware River(as well as paddled sections of the Allegheny) alongside experienced partners of different craft.
![River Trip B side 023|690x324](upload://1zRhN6vsOxwNPpZCiMqYnd2jCXI.j

Quite a LOT of dams on the main portion of the Allegheny (9 between Kinzua and the Point) so you will have to be aware of them. I live in Pittsburgh and am not aware of an official full “water trail” map of the Allegheny available yet. I have the full set for the West branch of the Susquehanna which is the sort of resource that would be helpful for you in your planning.

There are available water trail maps and guides for the various sections and you should collect those to start with. They mostly go from East Brady to the final outlet at downtown Pittsburgh. The upper reaches of the Allegheny drainage are pretty wild and twisting and go through a lot of private land and reservoir containments (which will involve dams as well). It is not considered very “navigable” (therefore not usable by commercial boat traffic) and is not a designated water trail or “wild and scenic river” so charts or guides to it are rare. That northern portion will be your major information and mapping challenge. The first 100 miles is pretty much a shallow rocky creek/drainage channel, not a river, and you can’t paddle much of it. Maybe wade it. Trace it on Google maps with the satellite view and zoom in and you will see what I mean.

A group of Seneca Nation paddlers were going to make the entire journey starting in 2019 but I don’t know if they completed it. (link to news item below). Perhaps you can find information from their trip.

Portage the dams. Avoid perfect reversals.

I’ve paddled a bit of the Allegheny
Dams have locks. I never saw a portage option though I have just gone through two locks. and there are many more

What is it like locking thru in a canoe or kayak? Do they put you in with barges?

Been through a few on the Trent-Severn in a houseboat, engineering geek’s dream. Every kind of way you can think of to raise and lower boats and then some.

It would be interesting to try some day. The link below is Tim Galway Locking down the St. Mary’s at the Soo on his 2021 trip. There the smaller craft use the older locks on the Canadian side while the freighters use the much larger ones on the American side.

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There weren’t any of those around and we had 20 paddlers to I don’t know how it would be if canoeing alone and they stuffed you in with a barge
It wws high water the dam did not hld back all the water and when the gate downstram
opened we had whitewater from he hockeyvsticsks. Waves from every direction!

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Going thru locks with large boats is a bad idea in a canoe. They are fine a in a power boat once you learn the ropes.

Don’t worry about the locks.

Don’t worry about the hazards.

In fact, don’t worry about the Allegheny at all!

Because once again on the “Advice Forum,” the OP makes no acknowledgement whatsoever for replies to their enquiry from people here with hard won experience.:thinking::-1: