Kayak the Francis E. Walter Dam

March 04, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

OVERVIEW 

Constructed in 1961 by the Army Corps of Engineers for flood management, the Francis E. Walter Dam spans the Lehigh River at its confluence with Bear Creek. The reservoir was named after local United States Representative, Francis E. Walter in 1963. Prior to the construction of the dam, the Lehigh River was subject to regular flooding events from large ice dams breaking apart after heavy rains. Some of these flooding events would result in waves 30 feet high that swept downstream destroying anything in its path. Since construction, the dam has prevented nearly $230 million in flood damages to the Lehigh River Valley.


In 1988, the Water Resources Development Act was passed, which directed the Secretary of the Army to prepare to regulate the Francis E. Walter Reservoir, and other areas, for recreational purposes. Today the 80-acre reservoir is used for kayaking, canoeing, and boating. Hiking, picnicking, fishing, and hunting are also available. The coordination between the Philadelphia District USACE, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Delaware River Basin Commission work together to continue flood management activities while scheduling dam releases for whitewater rafting.

There are two separate launch points on either side of the dam: one for kayaks/canoes and the other for motorboats. While paddling along the banks of the reservoir you can find water snakes cruising the shallows, rattlesnakes sunning themselves on the rock ledges, birds nesting on the cliffs, frogs, and toads, and a variety of landscapes. The views vary from a sunken forest, rock cliffs, pines, and shallow grassy areas. If you visit when the dam is low, some areas of the reservoir look like you are on a different planet. 
 

PHOTOS FROM THE RESERVOIR

TRAIL NOTES 

KNOWN FOR 
Human-powered boats | Motorboats (10 hp) | Fishing | Picnicking | Hiking | Photography | Disc Golf | Swimming is not permitted

TRAIL MAP 
Francis E. Walter Dam Site Map

MY PICKS 

The overall landscape here is beautiful. My favorite locations on the reservoir are the sunken forest and the shallows towards the back of the property where Bear Creek flows into the dam. If you visit the reservoir when the toads and frogs are looking for a mate, you will be serenaded by a lovely chorus of croaks.

GPS, HOURS & PARKING

146 Walter Dam Road, White Haven, Pennsylvania 18661
Open dawn to dusk.

NEARBY ADVENTURES

 

MORE OF MY TRAIL NOTES
Check out my other blog posts here.


Resources: USACE

Note: Masks are required indoors and outdoors. When indoors, masks are required anytime you're with people outside of your household, even if you're socially distant. Face masks are required in all federal buildings and on federal lands. Always check local guidelines before traveling.  


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COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS
Masks are required indoors and outdoors. When indoors, masks are required anytime you're with people outside of your household, even if you're socially distant. Face masks are required in all federal buildings and federal lands. Always check local guidelines before traveling. 

LEAVE NO TRACE
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


 



 

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