Exploring the Monongahela River: Activities on Water

The Monongahela River is a treasure trove of adventures waiting to be explored. From the thrill of canoeing and kayaking to the serenity of fishing and scenic boat tours, this river offers a wide range of activities for everyone. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, or just looking for a fun day out, the Monongahela River has something for you.

Key Takeaways

  • The Monongahela River offers a variety of activities including canoeing, fishing, kayaking, and scenic boat tours.
  • Safety is a top priority, so always follow recommended guidelines and wear appropriate gear.
  • There are many popular spots for fishing, bird watching, and hiking along the river.
  • Guided and self-guided tours provide opportunities to learn about the river’s historical significance.
  • Seasonal activities and festivals make the Monongahela River a year-round destination.

Canoeing Adventures on the Monongahela

Best Canoeing Spots

The Monongahela River, often called The Mon, offers some of the best canoeing spots in the region. From the calm waters in downtown Fairmont to the scenic views near Morgantown, there’s something for everyone. Flat water canoeing is popular here due to the series of pools created by locks and dams, making it feel more like paddling on a lake than a river.

Safety Tips for Canoeing

Safety should always be a priority when canoeing. Always wear a life jacket and check the weather before heading out. It’s also important to let someone know your plans and expected return time. If you’re new to canoeing, consider taking a safety course to learn the basics.

Gear Recommendations

Having the right gear can make your canoeing adventure more enjoyable. A sturdy canoe, paddles, and a life jacket are essential. You might also want to bring a dry bag to keep your belongings safe and dry. Don’t forget to pack some snacks and water to stay energized during your trip.

Fishing Fun on the Monongahela

fishing on Monongahela River

The Monongahela River, affectionately known as "The Mon," offers a fantastic fishing experience for both beginners and seasoned anglers. With its slow-moving and gentle current, it’s an ideal spot for a relaxing day on the water.

Popular Fishing Locations

Dive into a summer fishing adventure in almost heaven with numerous spots along the Monongahela River. Some of the best locations include the area around Fairmont, WV, and the section southeast of Pittsburgh. These spots are known for their scenic beauty and abundant fish.

Types of Fish to Catch

The Monongahela River is home to a variety of fish species. Anglers can expect to catch bass, catfish, and walleye. Each species offers a unique challenge and thrill, making every fishing trip exciting.

Fishing Regulations

Before you cast your line, it’s important to be aware of the local fishing regulations. These rules help maintain the fish population and ensure a sustainable environment. Make sure to check the latest guidelines from local authorities to stay compliant.

Remember: Always follow the fishing regulations to protect the river’s ecosystem and enjoy a responsible fishing experience.

Scenic Boat Tours

Exploring the Monongahela River by boat is a fantastic way to see the sights and learn about the area’s history. Rivers of Steel offers a variety of tours that are perfect for all ages. Their Explorer riverboat is a 94-foot vessel that serves as a floating classroom, providing hands-on learning experiences for students. It also offers sightseeing tours and can be rented for social and corporate events. The boat docks on the North Shore at the headwaters of the Ohio River.

Guided Tour Options

One of the most popular tours is the "Uniquely Pittsburgh Sightseeing Tour," which explores what makes Pittsburgh special. This tour covers the city’s history and how its residents have shaped it. The best part is that proceeds from the tour support student STEM education programs.

Self-Guided Routes

If you prefer to explore at your own pace, there are plenty of self-guided routes available. These routes allow you to take in the downtown shores and skylines from the best vantage point: Pittsburgh’s three rivers. You can rent a boat or bring your own to enjoy a day on the water.

Historical Landmarks to See

While on your boat tour, you’ll have the chance to see many historical landmarks. These include the headwaters of the Ohio River and various historical markers along the river. It’s a great way to combine family fun with a bit of education, making it a unique experience for all ages.

Kayaking Excursions

Top Kayaking Routes

The Monongahela River offers some of the best kayaking routes for both beginners and experienced paddlers. You can paddle through the scenic views of the river, enjoying the natural beauty and the peaceful environment. One of the most popular routes is the stretch from Morgantown to Point Marion, which provides a mix of calm waters and gentle rapids.

Kayak Rentals and Services

If you’re hoping to get a bit closer to the water, Kayak Pittsburgh can make it happen. This kayaking rental concession owned and operated by Venture Outdoors has three locations in Allegheny County for a variety of scenic experiences: North Park Lake, or the Allegheny River on the North Shore and in Aspinwall. Single and tandem kayaks, along with stand-up paddle boards, are available for rent, and Venture Outdoors offers a regular slate of instructional classes, guided trips, and social paddles. In addition to kayaking, Venture Outdoors also offers guided canoeing and fishing programs.

Kayaking Safety Tips

Safety should always be a priority when kayaking. Here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

  • Always wear a life jacket.
  • Check the weather forecast before heading out.
  • Inform someone about your kayaking plans.
  • Carry a whistle or other sound-producing device.
  • Stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun.

Remember, safety first! Enjoy your kayaking adventure on the Monongahela River while staying safe and prepared.

Bicycling Along the Monongahela

The Monongahela River, affectionately known as "The Mon," offers a fantastic backdrop for biking enthusiasts. The river flows for 130 miles from West Virginia through Pennsylvania, providing scenic views and a peek into the region’s rich history. Exploring the trails along the Mon is a must-do for any cyclist.

Hiking Near the River

The Monongahela River area offers some of the best trails and nature escapes in Morgantown, WV. Explore picturesque trails and diverse landscapes, from Cooper’s Rock to hidden gems like Falling Run Greenspace.

When hiking near the river, always carry a map and stay on marked trails. Bring plenty of water, wear sturdy shoes, and let someone know your plans. Be aware of the weather and avoid hiking alone.

For those new to the area or looking for a more informative experience, guided hiking tours are available. These tours provide insights into the local flora and fauna, as well as the history of the region.

Exploring Local Wildlife

The Monongahela River is a treasure trove for wildlife enthusiasts. From the majestic great blue herons to the occasional sighting of a bear, there’s always something exciting to see. Bird watchers will be thrilled with the variety of species that call this area home. Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or just starting out, capturing the beauty of the local wildlife can be a rewarding experience.

Swimming and Relaxation Spots

Best Swimming Holes

When the water calls, you know what to do. Head to your local swimming hole, or roll up your pantlegs and wade through a nearby stream to get your feet wet. NextPittsburgh published a roundup of 10 great creeks to explore around Pittsburgh, and FITT staked out the best swimming holes near Pittsburgh.

Family-Friendly Locations

For a fun day out with the family, there are plenty of spots along the Monongahela River that are perfect for kids. These areas often have shallow waters and gentle currents, making them safe for children to splash around. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and enjoy a meal by the water.

Relaxation Areas

If you’re looking for a more peaceful experience, there are several quiet spots along the river where you can relax and unwind. Bring a book, lay out a blanket, and enjoy the serenity of the water. These areas are perfect for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Personally, I highly recommend the float from Palatine Park in downtown Fairmont to Prickett’s Fort State Park. This seven-mile stretch of water offers a secluded view like no other and with the help from the current, it is an easy paddle.

So what are you waiting for? Find a boat and hit the water to soak up all the water has to offer this summer!

Historical Significance of the Monongahela

Important Historical Events

The Monongahela River, often called The Mon, has witnessed several key events in American history. In 1755, General Edward Braddock led his troops across the river during his campaign to capture Fort Duquesne. Unfortunately, they were ambushed by French and Native American forces, leading to a significant defeat for the British. This event is known as Braddock’s Defeat.

Museums and Exhibits

For those interested in exploring the rich history of the Monongahela River, there are several museums and exhibits to visit. The Fort Pitt Museum in Pittsburgh offers detailed displays about the river’s role in early American history. Additionally, the Heinz History Center provides insights into the industrial era when the river was a crucial part of Pittsburgh’s steel industry.

Historical Markers Along the River

As you travel along the Monongahela, you’ll find numerous historical markers that tell the story of the region. These markers highlight important sites such as the location of Braddock’s crossing and various industrial landmarks. Exploring these markers offers a unique way to connect with the past while enjoying the scenic beauty of the river.

Seasonal Activities on the Monongahela

Spring and Summer Activities

Spring and summer are perfect for enjoying the Monongahela River. You can go canoeing, fishing, or even take a scenic boat tour. Don’t miss out on the local festivals that celebrate the warm weather and vibrant community spirit.

Fall and Winter Activities

As the leaves change color in the fall, hiking and biking along the river become even more beautiful. In winter, you can try cross-country skiing or simply enjoy the peaceful, snowy landscape. Bundle up and explore the quieter side of the Monongahela.

Seasonal Festivals

Throughout the year, various festivals take place along the Monongahela River. From summer music festivals to winter holiday markets, there’s always something happening. Check local listings to find out what’s on during your visit.

Water Safety and Education

Monongahela River water activities

Safety Courses and Workshops

Staying safe on the water is crucial. There are many safety courses and workshops available to help you learn the basics. These courses often cover topics like safe boating, emergency procedures, and how to use essential safety gear. Some places even offer a temporary PA boaters’ certificate after a short and easy video and quiz.

Essential Safety Gear

When you’re out on the water, having the right gear can make all the difference. Here are some must-have items:

  • Life jackets
  • First aid kits
  • Whistles
  • Waterproof flashlights
  • Fire extinguishers

Emergency Contacts and Resources

It’s important to know who to call in case of an emergency. Keep a list of emergency contacts handy, including local authorities and rescue services. Many areas also have educational resources to help you be a force of nature when it comes to water safety.

Remember, safety first! Always be prepared and stay informed to enjoy your time on the Monongahela River.


The Monongahela River is a treasure trove of activities for water lovers. From canoeing and fishing to hiking and bicycling along its banks, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The river’s unique combination of calm pools and gentle currents makes it perfect for both beginners and seasoned adventurers. Whether you’re paddling through the heart of Morgantown or exploring the scenic valleys southeast of Pittsburgh, the Monongahela River offers endless opportunities for fun and relaxation. So grab your gear, head to the river, and make some unforgettable memories on the water!

Frequently Asked Questions

What activities can I do on the Monongahela River?

You can enjoy canoeing, fishing, kayaking, boating, and even swimming. There are also great spots for hiking and biking along the river.

Where are the best places to go canoeing on the Monongahela River?

Some of the top spots for canoeing include downtown Fairmont and Morgantown, WV. The river has a series of pools that are perfect for flat water canoeing.

What types of fish can I catch in the Monongahela River?

You can catch a variety of fish like bass, catfish, and walleye. The river is popular among anglers for its diverse fish population.

Are there guided boat tours available on the Monongahela River?

Yes, there are several guided boat tours available. You can choose from historical tours, nature tours, or even sunset cruises.

Is it safe to swim in the Monongahela River?

Yes, there are designated swimming areas that are safe for families. Always check local guidelines and water conditions before swimming.

What should I bring for a kayaking trip on the Monongahela River?

Make sure to bring a life jacket, paddle, waterproof bag, and plenty of water. It’s also a good idea to wear sun protection and comfortable clothing.

Are there any historical landmarks along the Monongahela River?

Yes, the river is rich in history. You can see historical landmarks such as old industrial sites and museums that tell the story of the region.

What are the best times of year to visit the Monongahela River?

Spring and summer are ideal for water activities, while fall offers beautiful foliage for hiking and biking. Winter can be great for those who enjoy a quieter, peaceful setting.

Recent Posts