Susquehanna River Water Trail In Pennsylvania

Here is everything you need to know about the Susquehanna River Water Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Pennsylvania
  • Length: 497 miles.
  • Type: Water trail.
  • Surface: water
  • Managed By: Susquehanna River Trail Association
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website: Info not available.

The Susquehanna River Water Trail holds a significant place in the history of Pennsylvania and the United States. The river itself has been a vital transportation route for Native American tribes for thousands of years. The Susquehannocks, a powerful Native American tribe, inhabited the region along the river and utilized it for trade and travel. European explorers, including Captain John Smith, ventured up the river in the early 1600s, establishing contact with the Native American tribes and recognizing the strategic importance of the Susquehanna River.

During the colonial era, the Susquehanna River became a crucial waterway for settlers moving westward. It served as a major transportation route for goods and people, connecting the interior of Pennsylvania to the Chesapeake Bay and beyond. The river played a pivotal role in the development of towns and cities along its banks, such as Harrisburg, York, and Lancaster. These settlements grew rapidly due to the river’s accessibility and the opportunities it provided for trade and commerce.

In the 19th century, the Susquehanna River became an essential resource for industries such as logging, coal mining, and iron production. The river’s water power was harnessed to operate mills and factories, contributing to the region’s economic growth. However, industrialization also brought pollution and environmental degradation to the river, leading to concerns about its health and preservation.

Recognizing the historical and ecological significance of the Susquehanna River, the Susquehanna River Water Trail was established in the late 20th century. The trail, managed by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, aims to promote recreational activities, environmental education, and conservation along the river. It provides access points, camping areas, and information about the river’s history and natural features, allowing visitors to explore and appreciate the rich heritage of the Susquehanna River.

While On The Trail

Access Points

Info not available.

Transportation Available

1. Susquehanna River Taxi – Offers convenient water taxi services along the Susquehanna River.
2. Susquehanna Riverboat Company – Provides scenic riverboat tours and private charters on the Susquehanna River.
3. Susquehanna River Rail Trail – Offers a scenic trail for walking, biking, and running along the Susquehanna River.
4. Susquehanna River Valley Visitors Bureau – Provides information on transportation options and attractions in the Susquehanna River Valley.
5. Susquehanna River Bridge – A bridge that allows vehicular traffic to cross the Susquehanna River.
6. Susquehanna River Ferry – Offers ferry services for vehicles and pedestrians across the Susquehanna River.
7. Susquehanna River Water Trail – A designated water trail for kayaking, canoeing, and boating along the Susquehanna River.
8. Susquehanna Riverboat Shuttle – Provides shuttle services for riverboat passengers along the Susquehanna River.
9. Susquehanna River Water Taxi – Offers water taxi services for transportation and sightseeing on the Susquehanna River.
10. Susquehanna River Valley Railroad – Operates scenic train rides along the Susquehanna River Valley.


The amenities available at the Susquehanna River Water Trail may vary depending on the specific location along the trail. However, here are some common amenities that can be found along the trail:

1. Restrooms: Some sections of the trail may have restroom facilities available for public use. These can include portable toilets or permanent restroom buildings.

2. Parking: There are usually designated parking areas or lots near the trail access points where visitors can park their vehicles.

3. Camping Sites: Along the water trail, there may be designated camping sites or campgrounds where visitors can set up tents or park RVs for overnight stays. These sites may have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water.

4. Picnic Areas: There are often designated picnic areas along the trail where visitors can enjoy a meal or snack. These areas may have picnic tables, grills, and trash receptacles.

5. Boat Launches: The water trail may have boat launches or ramps where visitors can easily launch their kayaks, canoes, or other small watercraft.

6. Fishing Access: The trail may provide designated fishing access points where anglers can cast their lines and try their luck at catching fish.

7. Interpretive Signs: Along the trail, there may be interpretive signs or educational displays that provide information about the river, its history, wildlife, and other points of interest.

8. Information Kiosks: Some sections of the trail may have information kiosks where visitors can find maps, brochures, safety information, and other resources.

9. Trash Receptacles: To help keep the trail clean, there are usually trash receptacles placed at regular intervals along the trail.

10. Signage and Markers: The water trail may have signage and markers to guide visitors and provide information about distances, access points, and other important details.

It is recommended to check with local authorities or visit the official website of the Susquehanna River Water Trail for specific information about amenities available at different sections of the trail.

Nearby Services

1. Susquehanna River Trail Campground – Campground located along the Susquehanna River, offering scenic views and outdoor activities.
2. Riverside Restaurant – Waterfront restaurant serving a variety of dishes with a view of the Susquehanna River.
3. Susquehanna River Outfitters – Outdoor adventure company providing kayak and canoe rentals for exploring the water trail.
4. Susquehanna Valley EMS – Emergency medical services available for any medical emergencies along the water trail.
5. Riverfront Park – Public park with picnic areas and walking trails along the Susquehanna River.
6. Susquehanna River Inn – Charming inn offering comfortable accommodations near the water trail.
7. Susquehanna River State Park – State park with camping facilities, hiking trails, and access to the water trail.
8. Susquehanna River Wildlife Center – Wildlife rehabilitation center providing emergency care for injured animals found along the water trail.
9. Riverfront Bed and Breakfast – Cozy bed and breakfast located near the water trail, offering a relaxing stay.
10. Susquehanna River Water Trail Visitor Center – Information center providing resources and guidance for visitors exploring the water trail.

Susquehanna River Water Trail Difficulty Notes

The Susquehanna River Water Trail offers a moderate difficulty level for paddlers and outdoor enthusiasts. With its length of over 500 miles, the trail provides a diverse range of challenges and experiences. While some sections of the river are calm and suitable for beginners, others feature rapids and swift currents that require more advanced skills and experience. Additionally, the trail encompasses various terrains, including rocky areas, shallow stretches, and narrow channels, which can pose additional challenges. Overall, the Susquehanna River Water Trail offers a balanced difficulty level that caters to both novice and experienced paddlers, providing opportunities for adventure and exploration for all skill levels.

Features And Attractions

1. Conowingo Dam: Located in Maryland, this hydroelectric dam offers stunning views of the river and is a popular spot for birdwatching, especially bald eagles.

2. Havre de Grace: This historic town in Maryland is situated at the mouth of the Susquehanna River and offers beautiful waterfront views, charming streets, and several historical sites, including the Concord Point Lighthouse.

3. Wrightsville: This small town in Pennsylvania is known for its picturesque views of the river, especially from the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge. It also has a historic downtown area with quaint shops and restaurants.

4. Chickies Rock County Park: Located near Columbia, Pennsylvania, this park offers breathtaking views of the Susquehanna River from atop Chickies Rock, a large outcropping of quartzite. It is a popular spot for hiking and rock climbing.

5. Harrisburg: The capital city of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, offers several scenic spots along the river, including City Island, which provides beautiful views of the skyline and the river. The State Capitol building is also a must-visit for its stunning architecture.

6. Fort Hunter Mansion and Park: Situated just north of Harrisburg, this historic site offers a glimpse into the region’s past. The mansion, built in the 18th century, overlooks the Susquehanna River and is surrounded by beautiful gardens and walking trails.

7. Shikellamy State Park: Located at the confluence of the West Branch and North Branch of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, this park offers stunning views of the river and the surrounding mountains. It is a popular spot for boating, fishing, and picnicking.

8. Sunbury: This small town in Pennsylvania is home to the Zimmerman Center for Heritage, which provides information about the river’s history and ecology. The riverfront area offers scenic views and a chance to spot wildlife.

9. Lake Clarke: Located in Maryland, this man-made lake is part of the Susquehanna River Water Trail and offers opportunities for boating, fishing, and birdwatching. The surrounding area is also known for its beautiful scenery.

10. Havre de Grace Decoy Museum: This museum in Maryland showcases the art of decoy carving, a traditional craft in the region. It offers exhibits on the history of decoys and their significance to the Susquehanna River area.

These are just a few examples of the scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks along the Susquehanna River Water Trail. There are many more to explore and discover along this beautiful waterway.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Susquehanna River Water Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Camping is permitted along the water trail, but campers must adhere to Leave No Trace principles and obtain any necessary permits.
3. Fires are only allowed in designated fire rings or grills at designated camping areas.
4. Fishing is allowed on the water trail, but anglers must have a valid fishing license and follow all state fishing regulations.
5. Hunting is not permitted on the water trail.
6. Motorized boats are allowed on the water trail, but operators must follow all state boating regulations and have the necessary permits.
7. Swimming is allowed in designated areas only and at your own risk.
8. Littering is strictly prohibited. Visitors are expected to pack out all trash and leave the area clean.
9. Respect private property and do not trespass on private land along the water trail.
10. During certain seasons, such as winter, some sections of the water trail may be closed or have limited access due to weather conditions. It is important to check for any seasonal restrictions or closures before planning your trip.

Seasonal Information

The Susquehanna River Water Trail offers a unique and picturesque experience for outdoor enthusiasts throughout the year. The best times to visit the trail largely depend on personal preferences and the activities you wish to engage in. Spring and fall are generally considered the prime seasons to explore the water trail, as the weather is mild and the scenery is breathtaking. During these seasons, you can witness the vibrant colors of blooming flowers and foliage, making it an ideal time for hiking, birdwatching, and fishing.

Summer is another popular time to visit the Susquehanna River Water Trail, especially for those looking to enjoy water-based activities such as kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. The river’s calm waters and warm temperatures create a perfect setting for a leisurely float or an adventurous water sport. Additionally, summer brings opportunities for swimming and picnicking along the riverbanks, making it a great time for families and groups to enjoy the trail.

It’s important to note that the Susquehanna River Water Trail may have seasonal closures or restrictions in certain areas. During the winter months, some sections of the trail may be inaccessible due to freezing temperatures and ice formation. It is advisable to check with local authorities or the Susquehanna River Water Trail Association for any closures or safety advisories before planning your visit. However, even during the colder months, the trail can still offer stunning winter landscapes and opportunities for ice fishing or snowshoeing along the riverbanks.

Overall, the Susquehanna River Water Trail is a year-round destination that offers a variety of activities and experiences. Whether you prefer the vibrant colors of spring and fall, the water-based adventures of summer, or the serene winter landscapes, there is always something to enjoy along this beautiful water trail.


1. Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces close to the water trail entrance for individuals with disabilities.
2. Accessible Restrooms: Wheelchair-accessible restrooms equipped with grab bars and sufficient space for maneuverability.
3. Accessible Launch Sites: Launch sites with ramps or accessible docks for wheelchair users to easily enter and exit the water.
4. Accessible Trails: Paved or compacted trails with gentle slopes and wide paths to accommodate wheelchair users.
5. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas with accessible tables and benches for individuals with mobility impairments.
6. Accessible Fishing Piers: Fishing piers designed to be wheelchair accessible, allowing individuals with disabilities to enjoy fishing.
7. Accessible Campsites: Campsites equipped with accessible features such as level ground, wider paths, and accessible fire rings.
8. Accessible Interpretive Signs: Signs along the water trail with braille or large print for individuals with visual impairments.
9. Accessible Information: Availability of accessible brochures, maps, and other materials in alternative formats for individuals with disabilities.
10. Accessible Lodging: Nearby lodging options with accessible rooms and facilities for individuals with disabilities.

Safety Information

1. Wear a life jacket: Always wear a properly fitted life jacket while on the Susquehanna River to ensure personal safety in case of accidents or emergencies.
2. Check weather conditions: Stay updated on weather forecasts and avoid boating during severe weather conditions to prevent potential hazards.
3. Be aware of river conditions: Stay informed about water levels, currents, and any potential hazards such as debris or submerged objects.
4. Know your limits: Assess your own skill level and experience before embarking on the water trail to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
5. Plan your trip: Plan your route, inform someone about your itinerary, and carry a map or GPS device to avoid getting lost or stranded.
6. Avoid alcohol and drugs: Do not consume alcohol or drugs while on the water trail, as they impair judgment and increase the risk of accidents.
7. Stay hydrated and protect from the sun: Drink plenty of water, wear sunscreen, and protect yourself from the sun to prevent dehydration and sunburn.
8. Watch out for wildlife: Be cautious of wildlife, such as snakes or birds, and maintain a safe distance to avoid any potential encounters or disturbances.
9. Practice proper boating etiquette: Respect other boaters, anglers, and wildlife by maintaining a safe distance and following proper boating etiquette.
10. Be prepared for emergencies: Carry a first aid kit, a whistle or signaling device, and know how to call for help in case of emergencies.
11. Stay informed about regulations: Familiarize yourself with local boating regulations, fishing regulations, and any specific rules or restrictions along the water trail.
12. Leave no trace: Pack out all trash and dispose of it properly to help preserve the natural beauty of the Susquehanna River and its surroundings.

Conservation Notes

The conservation status of the Susquehanna River Water Trail is of significant concern due to various environmental challenges it faces. The river, which stretches approximately 464 miles from its headwaters in Cooperstown, New York, to the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, is a vital resource for both wildlife and human communities along its course.

One of the primary conservation issues affecting the Susquehanna River Water Trail is water pollution. The river receives runoff from agricultural activities, industrial discharges, and urban areas, leading to increased levels of sediment, nutrients, and contaminants. These pollutants can have detrimental effects on aquatic ecosystems, including the degradation of water quality, loss of biodiversity, and harm to fish and other wildlife populations.

Another significant concern is the impact of invasive species on the river’s ecosystem. Non-native species, such as the zebra mussel and the northern snakehead fish, have been introduced to the Susquehanna River and can outcompete native species for resources, disrupt food chains, and alter the river’s natural balance. Efforts are underway to control and manage these invasive species to minimize their negative effects on the river’s biodiversity.

Additionally, habitat loss and degradation pose a threat to the conservation status of the Susquehanna River Water Trail. Urban development, deforestation, and shoreline modifications can lead to the destruction of critical habitats, such as wetlands and riparian zones, which are essential for supporting a diverse range of plant and animal species. Protecting and restoring these habitats is crucial for maintaining the ecological integrity of the river and ensuring the survival of its associated wildlife.

In conclusion, the conservation status of the Susquehanna River Water Trail is challenged by water pollution, invasive species, and habitat loss. Efforts are being made by various organizations, government agencies, and local communities to address these issues and protect the river’s ecological health. Continued conservation initiatives and public awareness are essential to ensure the long-term sustainability of this important water trail and its surrounding environment.

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