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Floating the West Branch: Great Island at Lock Haven to Pine Access

This is an easy float that travels under a series of bridges and by several islands that most likely flood at high water. Seven miles of gentle flowing water without obstructions other than the small grassy islands and bridge piers that are easily navigated. You can expect some riffles caused by the confluence of Bald Eagle Creek on river right around Great Island just below Lock Haven. This is an excellent section for a novice paddler getting started on the West Branch because there is a interim take out at the Route 220 connector bridge if you want to cut the trip short. Unfortunately, you never really get away from the background noise of traffic on this section.

There is plenty of bird life for you to see if you are quiet and on the lookout especially at several small islands you will pass. Eagles and hawks are regularly sighted along this section. Ducks are common, usually close to the banks or in the grassy islands. The river seems to have some deep holes and shallows all along the stretch. The last bridge before the Pine Access take out is a stone railway bridge that is interesting to observe. When the sun hits it, the colors on the stones are so vibrant.

Water Safety

Remember: safe use of rivers and any designated trails, at any time, is your responsibility! Water trail maps are for informational and interpretive purposes only and are not meant for navigational purposes, nor do they take into account level of skills or ability required to navigate rivers. The National Park Service, Chesapeake Conservancy and/or the individual trail associations assume no responsibility or liability for any injury or loss resulting directly or indirectly from the use of water trails, maps or other printed or web-based materials. Learn more about water safety.

Image Credit: Pamela Dillon