Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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Pennsylvania Woods & Waters – Baldwin Creek/Shannon Run/Powdermill Run, Westmoreland County


Wild trout in Baldwin Creek, Powdermill, Shannon runs


By Kevin Phillips
Contributing Writer


In the northern region of the Laurel Highlands, Baldwin Creek, Shannon Run and Powdermill Run flow as Wilderness Trout Waters on State Game Land 42. These excellent fisheries each have a thriving wild brook trout population that can be enjoyed in a scenic mountainous area.


A stream or stream section with a Wilderness Trout Water designation enables anglers to fish for wild trout in a natural, remote environment where intrusive activities by man are minimal. 


At elevations above 2,400 feet, Baldwin Creek, Shannon Run and Powdermill Run begin on the west side of Laurel Ridge and the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. They are located in Westmoreland County and belong to the Conemaugh River watershed. 


Less than three miles from the town of New Florence, each stream flows on State Game Land 42 as a Wilderness Trout Water.


All three specially designated waters course along in remote areas. However, an adventurous angler can use access roads and unofficial mountain passages to take advantage of these fisheries. 


On the outskirts of New Florence, there are four handy game land parking sites that can be used before beginning a hiking/fishing excursion. For an outing that doesn’t involve hiking, a stretch of Baldwin Creek can be targeted near the shooting range.


Starting at the headwaters, a section of Powdermill Run flows continuously within State Game Land 42 for nearly three miles. This is a big mountain run that exceeds 20 feet wide in numerous spots.  Even near the upper reaches, the overall width of the stream is unusual.


Powdermill Run has a tremendous trout population that can keep an angler pleasantly engaged. Last spring, I fished Powdermill on a perfect day when the banks held lots of water and the forest was lush.  That day, 8- to 9-inch brookies were aggressive and seemed to magically appear in numbers that provided plenty of excitement.


Less than a half mile from Furnace Lane, there is a well-shaded parking area off Sugar Run Road. From here, a short walk along Sugar Run Road leads to a tiny lot and an access road. After hiking about a mile on the access road, a mountain passage on the right can be used to reach Powdermill.


Powdermill Run boasts a beautiful, sharply descending stretch that is extremely wide, full of rock faces and perhaps 200 yards long.  


An angler could spend hours here amid waterfalls, rushing water, log jams and deep pools. This scenic portion of stream would surely be an attraction in a less remote place. 


Baldwin Creek flows in the game lands for 3.2 miles. Fern patches, giant hemlocks, rhododendron thickets, small leaning rhododendron trees and blankets of moss impact the personality of this aesthetically rocky stream. Spots that exceed 15 feet wide are sparse, but brook trout are plentiful.  


The New Florence Reservoir briefly interrupts the stream. Fishing is permitted at this tiny impoundment, which is no longer owned or used by a water authority.


By way of Furnace Lane, State Game Land 42 is about two miles from state Route 711, the Laurel Highlands Scenic Byway. Heading to the property, Furnace Lane passes Laurel Hill Furnace.


A third of a mile from Laurel Hill Furnace, the road crosses Baldwin Creek on a small bridge. Within 600 yards of this bridge, there are three parking sites close to the creek.


Brook trout exceeding 8 inches and an occasional wild brown can be caught from this super accessible part of Baldwin Creek. Hooking the first trout of the day is possible five minutes after leaving a parked vehicle. 


In name, Furnace Lane ends not long after entering the game land. The road itself continues for a few miles on the property, however. 


While hiking up Laurel Ridge on this game land road, Baldwin Furnace can’t be missed. It is a historic structure that’s more than 200 years old. Baldwin Creek flows less than 150 feet from the furnace. 


Staying on the road, a 25-minute walk from Baldwin Furnace leads to a bridge. The creek flows for about a mile and a quarter between the bridge and the furnace. 


This is a rapidly descending, picturesque section that offers great fishing opportunities; it is the centerpiece of Baldwin Creek.


Less than 150 feet below the bridge, an exemplary waterfall has scoured out a pool that’s swarming with brookies.


Continuing along the road, a five-minute walk leads to another bridge that crosses Baldwin Creek. A short distance from this second bridge, a scenic clearing in the forest emerges on the right.  


From this area, Shannon Run can be seen flowing through the clearing. The stream can be reached after descending a steep grade. 


Shannon Run is teeming with brook trout. Fish over 8 inches definitely exist, but should be considered a special catch. For the most part, big pools are chock-full of willing fish.


In the game land, Shannon Run flows for more than two miles as a Wilderness Trout Water. The part of this span that’s worth targeting rarely exceeds 12 feet wide. Enjoyable action begins a half mile below the headwaters. 


Upstream from the aforementioned clearing, more than a mile of Shannon Run consistently offers promising spots to try. This part of the creek is characterized by rhododendron thickets, rocky pools, large, eye catching rubble, dense shade and steep banks. 


Near the valley bottom, a forgotten passage can be used for a while. Though not always easy to discern, it is a pleasure to travel.


Shannon Run can be accessed in another location.  Ascend the game land road toward Baldwin Furnace.  Past the furnace, two rights can be made within 15 minutes. Make the second right onto a different road. This road leads to a bridge over Shannon Run.


The bridge intersects a significantly long, dark section that tumbles and hurries down the mountain. Rocky plunge pools are abundant and some are magnificent.  About 200 yards below the bridge, the stream begins to mellow near the border of the game land. 


For anglers who crave fishing for wild trout, Baldwin Creek, Shannon Run and Powdermill Run are destinations worth considering.

Baldwin Creek, Shannon Run, Powdermill Run

Closest town: New Florence


Location: Westmoreland County


What you should know: Baldwin Creek, Shannon Run and Powdermill Run flow as Wilderness Trout Waters on State Game Land 42.


In the game land, a section of Baldwin Creek is easily accessed in the area of the shooting range. An occasional wild brown trout can be caught in this accessible area.


Powdermill Run is a big mountain run that exceeds 20 feet wide in numerous spots.


On the outskirts of New Florence, there are four handy game land parking sites that can be used before beginning a fishing/hiking excursion.


For more information: 

Contact Game Commission’s Southwest Region Office in Bolivar at 724-238-9523.

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