Located in the heart of Central Pennsylvania, the Juniata River Valley, is named for the river that flows from Huntingdon County to Perry County where it meets the Susquehanna River. Spanning more than 100 miles, the Juniata River flows through a picturesque valley offering visitors a chance to explore the area’s wide fertile valleys, small towns, and the natural heritage of the region.
The Juniata River watershed is comprised of more than 6,500 miles of streams, including many Class A fishing streams. The river and its tributaries are not the only defining characteristic of our landscape, but they are the center of our recreational activities.
From traditional fishing to fly fishing, kayaking to camping, the area’s waterways are the ideal setting for your next fishing trip or family vacation.
Come and “Discover Our Good Nature” any time of year!
The Juniata River Valley is located in Central Pennsylvania midway between State College and Harrisburg.
The Juniata River
The Juniata River, the second largest tributary of the Susquehanna River, is a slow moving, low gradient river ideal for paddling, and is an angler’s dream.
The river is generally easy to wade, has ample access, and has a multitude of gamefish to target. The Juniata has a reputation for producing consistent smallmouth fishing with large fish possible, topping 20 inches and five pounds. Other gamefish in the river include muskellunge, catfish, walleye, various species of sunfish, and carp.
The Juniata offers plenty of fishing opportunities year round, but summer is the safest and the most common time for water recreation. If a boat is your desire, then a shallow draft jet boat, canoe, or kayak are good choices. The bass here are easily targeted with both conventional spinning and baitcasting equipment as well as by means of the fly rod. Popular artificial baits for bass include, poppers, hard stick baits, soft plastics rigged Texas-style or on jig heads, and spinnerbaits. Live bait, such as hellgrammites, nightcrawlers, and minnows, are also effective choices. These can be fished under a float or free-lined near the bottom. For fly fishing, a basic selection of woolly buggers, poppers, and Clouser minnows are enough to get started catching plenty of bass.
With the Juniata River, you can pick the type of water that appeals to you. The upper part of the river flows at a slower pace, with slow long runs with lots of riffles down to Lewistown. Below Lewistown, the river starts dropping in elevation and moves a little faster with a mix of bridge pilings, ledges, grass beds, and deeper pools.
Smallmouth bass are looking for two things, slower current and warmer water. Target eddies below exposed rock or along the shoreline (especially if the water is up). You want to present your fly or lure near the bottom using a slow retrieve. Use flies or lures in a combination of black/purple or black/blue work well.
Smallmouth move to their summer feeding zones. Target the grass beds and shallow pools early and late in the day with a top water offering. During these times, you will encounter different insect hatches that will attract fish. Starting mid-morning, you will see the blue damsels coming off the water, and smallmouth bass jumping up to catch them. As the day warms up, you will do best with a below the surface or on the bottom presentation.
Early fall will still produce very good top water fishing, targeting the shoreline grasses and tops of ledges. As the waters start to cool down, you will want to use flies and lures fished below the surface targeting the deeper areas below ledges and pools.
Major Streams Guide
These definitions will help you select the best stream.
Limestone Streams –
Spring fed and flowing over limestone, these streams are more consistent in maintaining their cooler water temperatures. This is perfect for trout as the limestone acts as a natural pollution buffer, and a great regulator of pH levels.
Freestone Streams –
Running over sandstone, siltstone and shale, these streams flow seasonally based on water supply. They stay cool through late spring and warm up by midsummer. This is a great time to target species other than trout.
Mifflin County Stream Information
Tea Creek’s headwaters lie in Rothrock State Forest. A few miles downstream from the state forest boundary, the stream reemerges as a limestone spring creek and a Class A brown trout stream. This stream, with its rich alkaline waters and near 54-degree water year-round, boasts excellent numbers of wild brown trout. The stream also holds a fantastic early season BWO hatch, which begins in March. Otherwise, scuds and cressbugs are typically reliable patterns that often produce fish here.
Access: Tea Creek is easily accessible at Mifflin County Youth Park, Reedsville.
Honey Creek, a premier, Class A midsized wild brown trout fishery, emerges from a cave where it flows to its confluence with Kishacoquillas Creek. Honey Creek, similar to the nearby and world-renowned Penns Creek, is often described as a scaled down version of its more famous, larger twin. Natural food sources include BWOs, sulphurs, grannoms and terrestrials. Spring is the best time to fish Honey Creek, although the stream fishes well most of the year. Typical patterns like pheasant tails and hare’s ear nymphs work well most of the year, while patterns such as green weenies fish well in the midsummer months. Stream temperatures can sometimes get a little warm during a hot, dry summer, so a stream thermometer is a good tool to have.
Access: Honey Creek has two public parks, Bender Park, located in Reedsville and Reedsville Community Playground.
Kishacoquillas Creek is a large, limestone-influenced stream and is Class A brown trout waterway. The stream is heavily stocked with rainbow trout and brown trout in its lower reaches. The best fishing occurs from where Honey Creek meets Kish, nearly doubling the stream volume. Kish Creek is known for blizzard-like hatches of grannoms caddis, excellent BWO hatches, and a good sulphur hatch in May. The green weenie is also a very effective fly on Kish Creek in midsummer. Mann’s Narrows, between Reedsville and Yeagertown, can be dangerous when waters are high.
Access: -In Reedsville, heading towards Yeagertown on Main Street, go over the bridge to the gravel pull-off. The gravel trail takes you to the most popular section.
-In Yeagertown, head to the baseball field at the end of Meadowfield Drive.
-Kish Park (formerly Derry Township Community Park). Campsites available.
-Lewistown Rec Park. Public parking.
East Licking Creek is a mountain freestone stream that contains wild, native brook trout and is stocked by the PBFC. East Licking Creek also has a sizable stretch of “delayed harvest, artificial lures only” section that ensures that plenty of fish remain long after the trout season opener. This creek fishes best in the spring and can get very low in summer. Spinners, live bait, and simple flies such as elk hair caddis, San Juan worms, green weenies, and woolly buggers are all effective.
Access: This stream is easily accessed as the best water lies all within Tuscarora State Forest. Licking Creek Drive parallels the stream allowing for miles of accessible water.
Juniata County Stream Information
Blacklog Creek is a 28.5-mile freestone tributary of Aughwick Creek. It rises in the Tuscarora State Forest and flows southwest between Blacklog Mountain and Shade Mountain. It is stocked with rainbow, brook and brown trout. Natural food sources include crayfish, minnows, all stages of select mayflies and caddis flies.
Cocolamus Creek is a 22.1-mile freestone tributary of the Juniata River. It begins east Cocolamus and meets the river just below Millerstown in Perry County. It is stocked with rainbow, brook and brown trout. The Cocolamus is also home to many native species such as smallmouth bass, rock bass, sunfish, the occasional chain pickerel, fall fish, suckers and a few carp. Natural food sources include crayfish, sculpins, minnows, helgrammites, all stages of select mayflies, caddis flies and stone flies.
Delaware Creek is a 6-mile-limestone and freestone tributary of the Juniata River. It begins west of East Salem and flows south where it joins the river in Thompsontown. This is a small stream that is home to both wild brown trout and native brook trout populations, and is a stocked trout stream, with rainbow, brook and brown trout. Smallmouth bass can be found in the lower end from Thompsontown down to the mouth. Natural food sources include crayfish, minnows, all stages of select mayflies and caddis flies.
Lost Creek is a 17.5-mile freestone tributary of the Juniata River. Designated as a Class A wild trout stream from where it rises just inside of the Snyder County line and flows to Oakland Mills, this northeastern section supports a population of wild (natural reproduction) trout of sufficient size and abundance. From Oakland Mills to the river, it is designated as a stocked trout stream, with rainbow, brook and brown trout. Natural food sources include crayfish, sculpins, minnows, all stages of select mayflies, caddis flies and stone flies.
Spectacle Run is a 4-mile branch of East Licking Creek that flows east along Shade Mountain. Designated as a Class A trout stream, it is home to native brook trout. A few wild brown trout can be found closer to where it branches off from East Licking Creek. Natural food sources include minnows, all stages of select mayflies and caddis flies.
Tuscarora Creek is a 49.2-mile limestone and freestone tributary of the Juniata River. It flows between Tuscarora Mountain and Shade Mountain where it eventually meets the river in Port Royal. It is designated as a stocked trout stream, and is stocked with rainbow, brook and brown trout. The Tuscarora is also home to smallmouth bass, rock bass, sunfish, chain pickerel, catfish, fall fish, suckers and carp. Natural food sources include crayfish, sculpins, minnows, all stages of select mayflies, caddis flies and stone flies, hellgrammites.
West Branch Mahantango Creek is an 18-mile freestone tributary of the Mahantango Creek. It rises along Shade Mountain in Snyder County, and enters Juniata County near Richfield. It is a stocked trout stream, with rainbow, brook and brown trout. Native species include sunfish, fall fish, suckers, and smallmouth bass. Natural food sources include crayfish, sculpins, minnows, helgrammites, all stages of select mayflies, stone flies and caddis flies.
Access – The better access points for all streams across Juniata County will be at most bridges that provide ample and safe pull-off areas, as well as other safe areas along roads that parallel a particular stream. Seek permission from landowners before parking on or traversing any private property.
For the conventional angler
Ultralight to medium-light rods, 5ft - 7ft in length with 2lb - 4lb test line. The best baits/lures to use will be minnows, wax worms, meal worms, red worms, nightcrawlers, small jerk baits, spinners and artificial crayfish.
For the fly fishing angler
Rods 6’- 9’ in length spooled with 3wt - 5wt floating line or intermediate sinking line. The best flies to use on these waters are wooly buggers, mop flies, pheasant tail nymphs, hare’s ear nymphs, midges, dry fly patterns appropriately matched for size and species, small Clouser minnows, squirmy worms, various streamers and poppers, clawdads and other crayfish patterns, as well as terrestrial insect patterns.
Issuing Agents for Fishing License
Need a fishing license? Purchase one online by visiting the new Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission’s - HuntFishPA website at huntfish.pa.gov or find a license issuing agent near you at fishandboat.com. There are about 700 issuing agents located throughout Pennsylvania and neighboring states.
Kayaking & Tubing
Add a little splash to your getaway with a kayaking or tubing adventure in the Juniata River Valley.
From the calm Juniata River to winding creeks, you won’t find a more relaxing way to spend a few hours with your family or friends.
The Juniata River is an ideal river for beginners because of its very flat and calm nature, allowing paddlers to practice their techniques. Proficient paddlers can try their hand in the small whitewater rapids of Kish Creek. Depending on water levels, some local streams are navigable by kayak including Tuscarora and Licking Creek. Visit the water data section of U.S. Geological Survey’s website at waterdata.usgs.gov for water levels.
Looking for more detailed information about the Juniata River? Check out the Juniata River Water Trail Guide, specifically the Lower Section, created by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Bring your own equipment or connect with one of our outfitters who can supply you with kayaks and canoes, but be prepared to transport the boats to and from the launch site on your own. If tubing down the river is more your style, campers staying at Buttonwood Campground can take advantage of the campground’s tubes and livery service for an easy float down the river.
Rules & Regulations
There are many rules and regulations in place for operators of kayaks and other non-powered boats in Pennsylvania.
- Anyone on a kayak must have immediate access to a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket and a sound-producing device to alert other boaters and avoid collisions.
- Any kayak out on the water after dusk must have a white light, either hand-held or installed, to avoid collisions.
- Location-specific regulations may be in place in some areas, and a detailed guide is available through the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website at www.fishandboat.com
- Research where you’re going and create a float plan. It can take several hours on a stream to get from one access point to another. There could be obstacles to maneuver that will require you to get out and move around.
- A launch permit must be obtained if you’re planning on using any state-owned access sites. If renting, confirm your boat is registered.
- Take plenty of water and sunscreen. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged, and bring a dry bag to keep your items in.
- Text or call a friend or family member before you begin your float to let them know what you’re doing. This is very important in case something may happen, and you get lost on the water.
- Never operate a boat under the influence. Boating laws are the same as motor vehicle laws when it comes to intoxication levels.
- Check the weather forecast.
- Check water levels at waterdata.usgs.gov
Note: Most waterways in the Juniata River Valley have good cell phone reception for emergencies or for using Google maps.
No matter where you stay, whether it’s a mountainside cabin, a bed and breakfast, hotel or cottage, you’ll discover our hospitality.
Our hotels and motels are conveniently located along Route 322 or if camping is more your style, we have many riverfront campgrounds where you can park your RV, rent a cabin or pitch a tent, just steps away from the Juniata River.
There are also many lodging options listed on home vacation rental websites.
Hotels & Motels
Best Western Nittany Inn, Milroy
5 Commerce Drive, Reedsville, 17084. 717-667-9595. www.bestwestern.com
4268 William Penn Highway, Mifflintown, 17059. 717-436-2127. www.wyndhamhotels.com
29 Stop Plaza Drive, Mifflintown, 17059. 717-436-5981. www.choicehotels.com
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Reedsville-State College Area
30 Happy Valley Drive, Reedsville, 17084. 717-946-0777. www.ihg.com
Quality Inn Lewistown
13015 Ferguson Valley Road, Burnham, 17009. 717-248-4961. www.choicehotels.com
Super 8 by Wyndham Burnham
12886 Ferguson Valley Road, Burnham, 17009. 717-437-9224. www.wyndhamhotels.com
Bed and Breakfasts & Cabins
13 Oaks Cabin
Red Oak Lane, Honey Grove, 17035. 973-641-2518. Find them on Facebook.
Bell Mountain Estates
25 Sweitzer Lane, Lewistown, 17044. 717-348-5526. bellmountainestates.com
Big Bear Cottage
34 Bear Road, Richfield, 17086.
Birch Haven Cabin
East Waterford, 17021. 717-381-1207. Find them on Facebook.
Briar Rose B&B
170 N Main Street, Reedsville 17084. www.briarrosebnb.com
Brookmere Vineyard Inn
5369 PA State Route 655, Belleville, 17009. 717-935-5380. www.brookmerewine.com
Burnt Timbers Cottage
45 Fisher Bee Lane, Granville, 17029. 717-247-8251. burnttimbers.com/the-cottage/
Chad's House on Coffee Run
Coffee Run Road, Reedville, 17084. Find them on AirBnB.
Coffee Run Cottage
840 Coffee Run Road, Reedsville, 17084. 717-994-2785. coffeeruncottage.com
Copeland Spring Lodge
111 Copeland Spring Trail, Allensville, 17002. 814-553-5149. www.copelandspring.com
Dayze Gone Bye Guest House
49 Water Street, Allensville 17002. 814-553-5149. Find them on Facebook.
Deer Run Cottage
1395 Quaker Run Road, Richfield, 17086. Find on Vrbo.
Frieden Ru (King Cabin)
147 Hostettler Gap Road, Belleville, 17004.
Hartman Center Campground and Retreat
5725 Old US Highway 322, Milroy, 17063. 717-667-7289. www.hartmancentercampground.com
Hill Store Guest Cottage
3849 W. Main Street, Belleville, 17009. 717-935-2390. www.hillstoreguestcottage.com
21132 Route 333, Thompsontown, 17094. 717-215-9855. www.milepost142.com
Peaceful Waters Guest House
25 Peaceful Waters Lane, Reedsville 17084. 717-667-6044. www.peacefulwatersbb.com
Penn Roosevelt Camp and Lodge
4021 Thickhead Road, Centre Hall, 16828. 717-248-9618. www.pennroosevelt.com
River's Edge RV Park and Campground
1274 William Penn Highway, Mifflintown, 17059. 717-437-2852.
The Cottage at Honey Creek
536 Honey Creek Road, Reedville, 17084. 717-994-3908. Find them on AirBnB.
The Elder House
27 Juniata View Drive, Mifflintown, 17059. 717-436-2398. www.stayattheelderhouse.com