CFI-Pittsburgh’s Annual Canoe Trip & Picnic

Summer is rapidly approaching and you know what that means – time to start thinking about fun in the sun. On Sunday, July 13th, Pittsburgh CoR is holding a New Member & Family Picnic in Schenley Park at the Bartlett Shelter and Playground. And on Saturday, August 16th, it is CFI-Pittsburgh’s Annual Canoe Trip & Picnic. Once again, we will be canoeing/kayaking the Youghiogheny River, from Smithton to West Newton. For those with more experience and wanting a little more water time, you can come a little earlier and put in at Whitsett and join up with the group at Smithton. (More on this later.) The outfitter has canoes, tandem kayaks, and single kayaks, both sit-in and sit-on available.

For those into biking rather than canoeing or kayaking, the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail runs along the Yough river through West Newton and Cedar Creek Park where we will be having the picnic (Pavilion #19). You can rent bicycles near the Boston Bridge in McKeesport and enjoy the two hour ride to Cedar Creek to build up your appetite, or you can bring your own bikes to the park or some other access point to the trail.

Of course if you are not into all that much recreational activity, you can always just come to the picnic where everybody is welcome. This year, we have rented Pavilion #19, which is about a tenth of a mile walk from the boat landing, near the restroom facilities. You can bring your own lunches/noshes/etc., or join the majority in a Cajun-style shrimp boil, a rustic dining experience that has to be experienced to be fully appreciated. Food consists of shrimp, andouille sausage, corn-on-the-cob, and new redskin potatoes, all cooked in a well-seasoned liquid with garlic and lemons, and served with plenty of French bread and butter. Food is spread out on the tables and everybody just digs in, throwing their empty shells and corncobs back onto the table. When the food is gone, the table covering is rolled up with all of the discarded items and clean up is complete. For dessert, we will have Louisiana-style bread pudding with rum sauce.

The drill goes like this: for those planning to go on the water, we will meet at Youghiogheny Outfitters in West Newton by 9:30 am. (Those wanting the longer trip should meet there at 6:30 am to leave for Whitsett at 7:00. You can then hook-up with the rest of the group at Smithton when they get there to put in around 10:15.) You will then be transported upriver to the put-in and then float/paddle downriver back to West Newton – with a stop for the Shrimp Boil at Cedar Creek Park, which is about the halfway point from Smithton. Watercraft must be returned to the outfitter’s no later than 7:00 pm.

Prices (including any applicable sales tax) for all of the activities are as follows:

Canoe/tandem kayak rental – $48; Single kayak – $27 (These prices are for put-in at Smithton. Put-in at Whitsett is $5 higher for canoes, $3 for kayaks.) Transport of you and your own canoe or kayak is $16/person. Additional items like a third lifevest for an additional passenger in a canoe, or backrests for canoes are available for a nominal expense. It is suggested that you bring a watertight container for wallets, cellphones, watches,and things like that. Also a cooler with water/beverages and some sunscreen (especially for kids) is recommended.

Bicycle rental in Boston is available at Trailside Treasures at a cost of $20/day (plus tax). Reservations are suggested.

Participation in the shrimp boil costs $12 for adults and $8 for children 11 and under. Price does not include any beverages, but there is a water fountain available at the pavilion.

If you are interested in participating in any of the events, or if you have any questions, please e-mail Please delineate desired activities, type of craft desired (if applicable), and which put-in you want to go to. Also include e-mail addresses of participants who want to be kept abreast of information. Payment should be made to CFI-Pittsburgh, Box 3912, Pittsburgh, PA 15230. Checks should be made payable to CFI-Pittsburgh. Payment should be received no later than August 9th.

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