An abundance of cultural resources and recreational opportunities coupled with a great river revival and trail has certainly made Conemaugh River Lake the place to be for outdoor fun!
At the dam site, visitors will find a Visitor Information Center, two pavilions, a day use area, large playground facility, softball field, basketball court, horseshoe pits and volleyball court – all within close proximity to each other. Pavilions, a popular choice for special events such as birthdays and reunions, can be reserved through the NRRS. The Visitors Information Center, adjacent to the Conemaugh Dam, contains exhibits on the Corps’ mission and notable floods, a historic pictorial of the construction of the Conemaugh Dam and educational information about the industry, transportation and rich history of the Conemaugh Valley.
Canoe launches at the Dam Outflow Area, Blairsville and Blacklick, as well as a carry-in only launch at Aultmans Run, provide access to the Conemaugh River and backwaters, a popular choice for outdoor adventure. A particularly well-liked float is the four-hour adventure from the Conemaugh Dam to Saltsburg. Lake fishermen have an excellent prospect of landing largemouth bass, pan fish or the occasional musky or northern pike. The outflow below the dam has a variety of fish populations including walleye, perch, several bass species, trout, carp, catfish and a selection of pan fish.
Adjacent to the dam, the Bow Ridge Recreation Area offers trails excellent for hiking and observing nature by foot or bicycle. Tunnelview Historic Site, directly downstream of the dam, provides a self-guided historic walk along a section of the restored Main Line Canal that once connected Philadelphia to Pittsburgh (1834-1854). The trail is maintained by the Indiana County Parks Department.
The West Penn Trail, operated by the Conemaugh Valley Conservancy, provides a scenic historic passage through the project by generally retracing the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal and Portage Railroad. Interpretive signs along the trail point out interesting parts of the historical legacy. Over three miles of the trail is level and accessible by wheelchair at the Livermore and Westinghouse trail heads. Information brochures are available at the Park Office.
The Woodchuck Nature Trail provides a 45-minute walk through the diverse Western Pennsylvania forest where one can observe native plants species or just take a peaceful walk. Plan an evening visit to the observation booth to watch wildlife as they feed.
To help preserve their quality, all trails on the project are open only to foot and bicycle traffic. Motorized vehicles and horses are strictly prohibited.
Up river from the dam, almost 7,000 acres of the reservoir land is leased and managed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission for wildlife management and hunting. Deer, pheasant, turkeys, grouse, squirrel, doves and even the occasional black bear thrive in hunting areas such as Virginia Farms, Aultmans Run and Stewart's Run. The Game Commission also maintains a public shooting range near Virginia Farms. Hunters can access the many remote areas of the project from the West Penn Trail.
Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast, a lover of history or just want to spend a day relaxing, Conemaugh River Lake is the place to be for having fun and creating fond memories.
The arrival of the cold weather is no reason to hibernate. Conemaugh Dam has a wide variety of outdoor enjoyable recreational activities. Visitors may hit the West Penn Trail to get some exercise while enjoying the winter on cross country skis. One can explore the winter woods on snowshoes and discover which animals are active during the winter season. Bird watchers and nature watchers take pleasure watching bird migration or the eagles and ospreys that can be spotted all year long. Upriver from the dam, almost 7,000 acres of the reservoir land can be accessed for hunting. Deer, pheasant, grouse, and squirrel thrive in areas such as Virginia Farms, Aultman's Run, and Stewart’s Run. Hunters can access the many remote areas of the project from the West Penn Trail. For complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania, visit the Pennsylvania Game Commission web site.
Conemaugh Valley Conservancy has completed the 580’ Q-Span trail bridge over the Conemaugh River near the Westinghouse Specialty Metals Plant. This trail bridge and the one-mile trail out to Newport Road links the West Penn with the Hoodlebug and Ghost Town trails to the east.
If you find history interesting, there are the old Mainline Canal and Pennsylvania Railroad features that can be viewed at the park.
Looking for a place to have an outdoor gathering? Two pavilions are available for the family outings or group gathering. There are plenty of picnic tables and grills for those who just want to relax and unwind. Pavilion reservations are now being accepted for the Social Hall and Livermore Pavilions. The cost to rent a pavilion is $45 per day.
Tours of the Conemaugh Dam can be arranged by contacting the Park Office at (724) 459-7240. Rangers conduct tours that include learning the purpose and functions of the dam, overlooking the rushing discharge of the outflow from atop the dam and venturing 30 feet below the bottom of the river to observe the exotic stalagmites that develop there. Another highlight of the tour is observing the actual high water marks of the historic 1972 and 1977 Johnstown Floods, as well as the 1936 St. Patrick's Day Flood. Dam tours must be scheduled at least one week in advance and tourists over 18 years of age must provide photo identification.
Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Hoodlebug Trail
The Borough of Blairsville, Pa. has proposed construction of the Hoodlebug Trail which will follow the historic Pennsylvania Main Line Canal and Portage Railroad route. An Environmental Assessment for the proposed trail was prepared by the Conemaugh Valley Conservancy for Blairsville Borough. After careful review and evaluation of the environmental effects of the proposed trail, the Pittsburgh District prepared a FONSI for the segment of the trial that is on federal land at Conemaugh River Lake.
Volunteers are always needed and are encouraged to participate in public stewardship. Scouts, school s, organized groups, or individuals are an important part of enhancing the outdoor experience on public lands. National Public Lands Day (NPLD) events are being scheduled for the fall, now is a perfect time to learn more about the public lands in your neighborhood. Contact our office to volunteer to share your skills or learn new ones while preserving our environment for future generations.