Image courtesy: Digital Chum

Susquehanna River Water Trail - Lower Section

From Harrisburg to Havre de Grace, this 65 mile stretch of the Susquehanna shows off the scope of this largest tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. The Lower Susquehanna Water Trail helps boaters, canoeists and kayakers explore and enjoy the river's history and scenic beauty.

This section of the Susquehanna offers a tremendous diversity of natural and built environments. From the industrial yards of Steelton to the Conejohela Flats - an internationaly renowned bird habitat - the lower section of the Susquehanna is a contrast of working river and wilderness.

A map & guide and interpretive panels at access points guide users to the water trail from Harrisburg to the Mason-Dixon line. The remaining stretch to Havre de Grace is now under development.

Please note that boating, canoeing, kayaking and other activities on rivers can be dangerous. Obtain a water trail map and guide in advance, plan your trip, and follow all safety precautions.

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Hours

Launch sites along the Susquehanna are open all day, spring through fall. Do not go on the river during flooding or high water.

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)

Fees

There are no fees for launch site use.

History

 In August 1608, Captain John Smith and his crew explored the Susquehanna River. It didn’t take long for them to discover that the river was only navigable for a few miles,

Beyond that, a fall line produced rapids that Smith named after himself: “Smith’s Falls.”

By this time, Smith had mapped all of the major Chesapeake Bay tributaries except the Patuxent and the Rappahannock rivers, which the crew explored on their way back to Jamestown. 

Smith realized that the Bay did not connect to the Northwest Passage, which his employer, the London-based Virigina Company, had instructed him to find.

England hoped North American was host to a water shortcut to the Pacific Ocean, which would give them quicker access to lucrative Asian trade markets.

The Virginia Company also wanted Smith to find exportable resources such as gold and silver.

Activities

Experience the Lower Susquehanna Water Trail by boat, canoe or kayak. When on the river, you can fish, look for wildlife, visit riverside communities, or just enjoy the experience of floating downstream. A hiking route, the Mason-Dixon Trail, parallels the river for much of the water trail's length. It is accessible from several launch sites on the west bank of the river.

Be sure to consult the water trail guide, detailed maps and local conditions prior to any river trip! Follow all safety precautions.

River Classification

Usually a Class I. But boaters will occasionally encounter Class II or III whitewater. (Read more about the different levels of River Classifications)

Water Flow Info:

Water Trail Map & Guide

Purchase an official copy of the water trail map and guide or view individual sections of the lower section of the Susquehanna River Water Trail

Facilities

There are many existing public launch sites along the water trail route. Launch sites provide parking and access to the river. Informational and interpretive signs for the water trail are installed at many sites. Consult the water trail map and guide for more details on launch site facilities.

Main image: Image courtesy: Digital Chum
Captain John Smith Chesapeake Trail
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