Bald Eagle

Upper Bald Eagle Creek

Section: Milesburg to Curtin Village
Distance: 3.7 miles
Time: 1.5 hours
Difficulty: Class I

Section: Milesburg to Dowdy’s Hole
Distance: 4.9 miles
Time: 2.5 hours
Difficulty: Class I

Section: Milesburg to Bullit Run
Distance: 6.5 miles
Time: 3.5 hours
Difficulty: Class I

 

This popular reach starts at the mouth of Spring Creek at the soon-to-be improved river access at the Milesburg Community Center. Best described as a technical Class I paddle, it has meanders, split channels, riffles and an occasional strainer. The popular Upper Bald Eagle Reach take-out is the unimproved access at Dowdy’s Hole, ~5 river miles from the confluence of Spring Creek and Bald Eagle Creek, on river left. Other take-out opportunities include the unimproved access at Curtin Village (~3.7 miles from Milesburg, river right), the improved boat access at Bullit Run (about 1.5 miles downriver from Dowdy’s Hole, river left), or you can continue to paddle into the reservoir to any the seven public boat ramps at F.J. Sayers Lake. This reach of Bald Eagle Creek has many shoals and gravel bars allowing paddlers to “anchor up” and visit the flora, fauna, or sights like Curtin Village.

The upper reach of Bald Eagle Creek’s freestone water benefits from its largest tributary in both flow and water temps. Spring Creek’s limestone influence enhances the normal unstable seasonal flows in the Bald Eagle and also lowers Bald Eagle’s normal cool water temps; creating a cold water experience as compared to the middle and lower Bald Eagle reaches below the Baltimore Corps Dam at Bald Eagle State Park. Parking is limited at both Bullit Run and Dowdy’s Hole and trailer parking can be difficult on weekends. Parking in the gravel lot is suggested at the Milesburg Community Center. It’s a little over 5.0 miles by car from Milesburg to Dowdy’s Hole and normally takes about 15 minutes one way. Add another mile to the trip if your take-out is Bullit Run. It’s about 10 minutes each way to Curtin Village. Both Bullit Run and Dowdy’s Hole are PFBC-controlled launches.

Middle Bald Eagle Creek

Section: Bald Eagle Creek, Centre and Clinton Counties (Middle)
Distance: 6 miles
Time: 3 hours
Difficulty: Class I

The middle reach of Bald Eagle Creek begins at the PennDOT right-of-way using an unimproved access at the Eagleville Road Bridge, a little less than a mile downstream from F. J. Sayers Reservoir Dam. The   middle Bald Eagle reach benefits from the Baltimore Corps-operated dam through minimum flow releases creating suitable water levels for paddlers even if the upstream watershed has extremely low flows. The middle reach also benefits from the Sayers Dam when flows are high and turbid, since sediment falls out in the reservoir creating a clear water paddling experience below the dam. Plus, because of the top water release, the middle Bald Eagle is a cool water experience even with the influence of two large cold water tributaries, Marsh Creek and Beech Creek.

The middle Bald Eagle is a rec paddler’s dream Class I reach, with short riffles and long pools and a number of split channels to explore and one man-made rock dam that requires locating the spillway chute in the middle of this small impoundment to continue downstream without scraping. The lower ¼ of the paddle is in the influence of the Mill Hall Dam and has current but no riffles. Motor boats are permitted on this reach but must go “Slow No Wake.” The take-out is the PA Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC)-owned Bald Eagle Creek Launch, right before the SR 150 Bridge in Mill Hall. It’s almost 7 miles by car to the take-out which is normally a 20 minute trip one way.

Paddling can continue below the PFBC Mill Hall access to the Mill Hall dam, but no automobile access is available at the dam pool and from there it’s an easy paddle that follows the summer cottages’ creek side and the Clinton County Club golf course. About 2 miles downstream you will need to portage (river left) around the Mill Hall dam. From here on you may encounter some shallow water riffles until the SR 150 Bridge and next you will pass by a flood protection levee and SR 220 and on to the take-out at the Castanea Bald Eagle Creek access near Paul Mack Blvd., adding another 4.5 miles to the trip from Eagleville.

Lower Bald Eagle Creek

Section: Bald Eagle Creek, Clinton County (Lower) to the West Branch of the Susquehanna River
Distance: 6 miles
Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Mild Class I

The Lower Bald Eagle Creek reach begins at the Castanea Township /PA Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) improved boating access at the Castanea Township Bald Eagle Creek Park. It’s a Castanea Township-maintained boat access. This public facility has a gravel parking lot and a port-a-potty on site.   Bald Eagle Creek’s confluence to the West Branch is about 2 miles downstream from the Castanea access and occurs right after you cruise thru the chute of a man-made rock dam on Bald Eagle Creek. The lower Bald Eagle Creek is a breeze to paddle, with a couple of mild riffles and the rapid at the RR Bridge that’s class I at best. The West Branch is big, wide and fast and is an easy relaxing paddle when the volume is above the minimum flow.

The lower public accessible reach on the West Branch is the PennDOT right-of-way at the bridge over the West Branch of the Susquehanna (McElhattan Drive). The access is at the gated dead end of McKinney Road. Public parking is available and an improved river access is under construction and should be completed by the spring of 2015. It’s a 6.5 mile drive from the Castanea put-in to the McElhattan take-out. There are numerous down river accesses also available if a longer trip is desired.