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Conemaugh River Lake

Recreation

Pittsburgh District
Published Jan. 10, 2024

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1665 Auen Road Suite A

Saltsburg, PA 15681-9302

(724) 459-7240

Recreation Opportunities

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!

Visitor Center

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 NRRSThe 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.


Boating

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.


Day-Use Areas

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.  


Hunting

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.


Trails

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.


Tours

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.


Firearm / Firework Policy
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers DOES NOT honor State-issued concealed weapon permits, prohibits loaded concealed weapons, the possession of loaded firearms or ammunition on lands and waters administered by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers per Title 36, CFR 327.13{a).


Flood Risk-Management 

Authorized by the Flood Control acts of 1936 and 1938, Conemaugh River Lake is one of 16 flood damage reduction projects in the Pittsburgh District. Conemaugh Dam provides flood protection for the lower Conemaugh Valley, the Kiskiminetas Valley, the lower Allegheny Valley, and the upper Ohio River Valley.

Since its completion in 1952, the project has prevented more than $582 million in flood damages. In June 1972, when tropic storm Agnes struck the area, this project alone prevented $2.5 billion in flood damage. These flood control benefits were the greatest ever realized by a project in the Pittsburgh District. The dam was able to prevent four feet of flood waters from reaching Point State Park in Pittsburgh.

To implement the production of hydroelectric power at the dam, the Federal Energy Regulation Commission issued a license to the Borough of Saltsburg, in association with Pennsylvania Renewable Resources Associates, for construction of a plant 1,200 feet downstream from the dam. This plant produces 16 megawatts of energy from two turbine generator units.