Do you want to combine water, good food, recreation, open space, history, culture, scenic beauty and geology into one day-trip? The Swatara Creek Water Trail has you covered. Canoeing the "Swattie" is like exploring a wilderness. One of the only ways to tell where you are is by the bridges that cross the stream. "The Swattie" is an urban/suburban wilderness less than 50 minutes from Pennsylvania's capital.
The Swatara Creek Water Trail is a 60-mile segment of Swatara Creek from Pine Grove, Schuylkill County, through Lebanon County, to the PA Fish & Boat Commission's Middletown Access, in Middletown, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. You will pass through Swatara State Park, see farms and bank barns, Union Canal locks, forested riparian buffers, the Appalachian Trail Bridge, the abandoned Lebanon to Tremont railroad and bridge, Harper's Tavern, limestone outcrops and the only lava deposits in the state. If you want to stay in the area overnight, try Twin Grove Park, Lickdale Campgrounds, Union Canal Canoe Rentals, the Swatara Creek Inn or Hershey Highmeadow Campground. Fort Indiantown Gap, the national cemetery, and historic Lindley Murray/Conrad Mill are a great hike from the water.
In central Pennsylvania, the Swatara Creek Watershed encompasses 570 square miles in Berks, Dauphin, Lebanon and Schuylkill counties. Swatara Creek flows into the Susquehanna River, and eventually, the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to the four counties, there are 46 municipalities in the watershed with a total population of more than 800,000 people.
Open daylight hours.
(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.)
Class I. (Read more about the different levels of River Classifications)
Download a copy of the Swatara Creek Water Trail map and guide from Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Access to the Swatara Creek Water Trail is provided at two formal trailheads, Scotto's Italian Restaurant, Jonestown, Lebanon County, and Boat House Road Park, Derry Township, Dauphin County, and at other public and private access points identified on the trail guide/map. There are several municipal parks and Hershey Park nearby. Swatara Creek Bed & Breakfast Inn is also along the water trail.
For people with disabilities, some of the accesses (Boat House Road Park in Derry Township for example) are paved to the water’s edge, which makes the Swatara accessible for the disabled for fishing. However, during the course of the four-day water trail, there are three portages around low-head dams.