Q: What are your hours?
A: We are open 7 days a week starting the first week of April through the end of October. Hours can be found on our front page including our daily status update on the Facebook thread. We take you as you sign up starting at 9 am with the following cut-off times for trips: 10 mile trips must register by 12:00 pm, 4 mile tube or raft trips by 2:00 pm, 2.5 mile tube trips by 3:00 pm, and all others by 4:00 pm during regular paddling season. After Labor Day, we are open until 3:00 pm Sunday through Thursday and until 4:00 pm on Friday and Saturdays. Remember, all trips are non-refundable once you leave on the van.
Q: What do I need to know regarding COVID?
A: While paddling and floating is predominately an outside activity, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires that you wear a mask; however, if you are medically unable to do so, it is not required per the state. Please be advised we will not confront guests about wearing masks.
Please keep your social distance and do not approach closely except hand off tickets and paddles. You are welcome to bring your own U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices (PFD).
You may request to ride in the van without others at the time you sign up and pay for your trip. You must wear a mask on the van unless you are medically unable to do so.
We encourage you to print and fill out your waiver forms before arriving. Designate one person to approach the counter with all waivers and payment. Again, please maintain distance in line.
You are more likely to avoid crowds if you arrive early in the day on a weekday. While we definitely want you to visit, keep in mind Cook Forest is a busy place during the summer if you wish to avoid other people especially on weekends and holidays.
Be prepared to depart on your trip after signing up, so please change, use restrooms, apply sunscreen, get drinks, etc. before approaching the counter.
While we spray with commercial grade disinfectants, we encourage you to bring your own hand sanitizer, wipes, etc. for your own comfort.
Q: How do I know if there are any river restrictions in place?
A: Due to ever changing river and weather conditions, please see our Facebook page for any restrictions in place or call us at 800-680-0160. If the Clarion River depth is 6 feet or greater at where the USGS measures it at the Cooksburg bridge, we are not permitted to rent equipment. Low, high, and or rough river conditions may require a higher age limit for children and/or limiting the number of persons to a canoe to 2. We reserve the right to make that determination. Tube rentals are not available during spring until the river temperature warms.
Q: How do your trips work?
A: Guests arrive at our facility at 115 Riverside Drive, Cooksburg, PA 16217 along River Road. Once parked and ready to go (sunscreen, restrooms, changed, etc.), you come to the ‘canoe shed’ where you complete waiver forms and then sign up for the trip of your choice. We load you in a van, take you upstream with the equipment for the length of trip you chose, and then you paddle or float back to our facility where you are parked.
Q: How many people can ride in one canoe?
A: One canoe can hold 2 adults and 2 small children OR 3 adults as long as the weight of the guests and their equipment does not exceed 550 pounds and/or we do not have any additional restrictions in place such as for low water conditions.
Q: How old do you have to be to go on a trip?
A: The minimum age is 2 years old unless there are other restrictions in place due to river conditions. All children ages 2 – 12 must be accompanied by an adult. All children, 17 years old or younger, must have a parent or guardian complete a minor release form. Guests age 18 or older must complete an adult release form. Low, high, and or rough river conditions may require a higher age limit for children – please check our Facebook page for any restrictions.
Q: Do you offer any discounts?
A: All guests of Cook Riverside Cabins, Fair Winds in the Forest Cabins & Lodge, and Whispering Oaks Cabins receive a discount on canoe, kayak, and tube rentals during their stay by showing their cabin key. We offer discounts for church, scout, school and other organizations/groups – call in advance for details. Proof of the affiliation with the group must be provided. U.S. Active Duty and Reserve Military receive a discounted price when they present a valid military identification card. Only one discount is valid per purchase.
Q: What is included in the cost of my trip?
A: The price of your trips includes parking, personal flotation devices (PFD) for each person, paddles (2 per canoe), and transportation to the embarkation point. Our crew takes care of the loading and unloading of all equipment to make your float as enjoyable as possible. We have restrooms, changing rooms, and a footwash for your convenience.
Q: Am I required to wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD)?
A: In accordance with Pennsylvania State Law, all persons underway in a boat must have a PFD on board and accessible; persons age 12 or younger must wear their PFD at all times. Persons older than age 12 are welcome to wear a PFD on tubes, but it is not required. All persons, regardless of age, must wear a PFD from November 1st through April 30th. We encourage all guests to wear their PFD for their safety. You may use your own PFD as long as it U.S. Coast Guard approved in accordance with Pennsylvania State Law. PFDs are provided for guests as part of their rental for no additional charge.
Q: Do I need a reservation?
A: No, we take you on your trip as you arrive and our next van becomes available. Though not required, please call ahead to make arrangements for large group trips of more than 28 guests. All equipment is first come, first serve.
Q: Do I need to arrive at a certain time to be able to go on a trip?
A: Yes! After we open in the morning, we run trips all day UNTIL the following times. You must register and be ready to go by the following times at the latest. These are the last times we run the trips each day. It is wise to arrive early to avoid missing the trip you want due to long lines especially on weekends.
12:00 pm 10 Mile Canoe, Kayak, or River Raft Trips
2:00 pm 4 Mile Tube or River Raft Trips
3:00 pm 2.5 Mile Tube Trips
4:00 pm 4 Mile Canoe or Kayak Trips
We require that all equipment be returned by 6:00 pm. Trips may vary based on river conditions so check our daily Facebook post for availability. Trip times vary by season so check our daily post.
Q: Can I bring my dog?
A: Yes, you may bring your dog if your dog can ride safely with other people and dogs while being transported to the launch site. The pet fee is $5.00 per dog. We do not have PFDs for dogs, you must bring your own if you wish for your pet to wear one.
Q: Will you transport me and my canoe, kayak, or tube?
A: We will transport you and your equipment for 1/2 price which includes parking and use of our dock. Please do not bring trailers on weekends or holidays. We reserve the right to see your equipment before quoting a price for transport and/or not transport your equipment due to size limitations such as for rafts exceeding a 2-person capacity. The price of transporting a double kayak is considered to be the same as transporting a 2-person canoe. Transports are considered a discounted price – only one discount is valid per purchase. We do not transport rafts that have appendages such as heads, legs, tails, or wings.
If you transport with us and forget your PFD and/or paddles, as our guest you may rent them for an additional cost of $5 per piece of equipment. We do not rent canoe or kayak paddles for tubes.
All equipment we transport must meet PA Fish & Boat Commission regulations and/or PA State Park regulations which means canoes and kayaks must have a state registration or launch permit as well as required safety equipment (PFDs, sound producing devices, etc.). Permits are available at the Cook Forest State Park Office. If you are bringing a raft larger than a double tube, you are also required to have a launch permit; however, we do not transport these items so you must park at the public launch facilities provided by the state park. The Pale Whale Canoe Fleet dock in Cooksburg and Clarington are both private property and are for use of our guests only. Trespassing is prohibited and violators will be towed.
Q: Will you transport me without equipment?
A: Unfortunately, we cannot shuttle people without equipment – you must either rent equipment from us or have your own canoe, kayak, or tube for transport in order for us to take you up river. Cook Forest State Park has public launch sites as well as parking available to those who wish to transport their own equipment. You can stop by the Cook Forest Park Office in Cooksburg to pick up maps of both Cook Forest and/or Clear Creek or check out their downloadable maps online at http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/index.aspx then choose “Find a Park”.
Q: What location should I use to look up the weather for Cook Forest?
A: We are located in Cooksburg, Pennsylvania 16217, but our trips extend upriver from Clarington down to Cooksburg. If it starts to lightning while you are on the river, you get to land per the PA Boating Handbook. In the case of the Clarion River, we ask that you come to the road side of the river so you can be assisted by our crew if necessary. When storms arise, we send vans up river to check on guests but please remember, it may take some time especially if the river is busy. Always review the forecast and radar before signing up for a trip. You have up to 30 minutes to decide whether you wish to wait out the weather or to end your trip by getting on a van. If it is after 5:30 p.m., your trip may be automatically ended since all equipment must be returned by 6 p.m. Once you begin a trip, it is non-refundable.
Q: Can I rent Pale Whale equipment and take it on my personal vehicle?
A: No, we must transport our equipment. Transporting Pale Whale equipment on a personal vehicle is considered theft unless in the case of a good Samaritan assisting during an emergency returning the equipment to the Pale Whale.
Q: What other things should I consider?
A: Come early on weekends and holidays to avoid long wait times. Bring appropriate footwear to wear in the water – if you need water shoes, you can purchase them at the Cooksburg Dry Goods store next to Pale Whale Canoe Fleet. Bring plenty of non-alcoholic drinks, snacks/picnic baskets, sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, trash bags, waterproof containers/dry bags, rope to secure your containers/bags, fishing equipment, as well as extra clothes in case you get wet. Always keep your car keys in a safe place – we will hold your keys until you return if you chose! Put a lanyard or something familiar on your keys to make it easier to find them in our bin. Stop by the Cooksburg Cafe for Hershey’s hand-dipped ice cream, burgers, and fresh cut fries after your float!
For Your Information
The Clarion River is a moderate-sized river with riffles and pools with trout, smallmouth bass, walleye, catfish, and various panfish. The river is classed as flat water to class 1 depending on conditions. The average depth for the adjacent 10 miles is 2 to 3 feet. The average gradient (foot/mile) is 6 feet. It is truly a family river for beginners canoeing Cook Forest.
51.7 miles of the Clarion River were designated part of the National Wild & Scenic River System on October 19, 1996 and was selected Pennsylvania’s ‘River of the Year’ for 2019!
It is against the law to harass wildlife. Notify the park rangers if you see any littering or improper behavior on the river. Always respect other enjoying the river including fishermen. Please notify us if you observe any willful destruction of canoe equipment.