Swatara Creek Water Trail

Trail:

Swatara Creek Water Trail

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.

Enter Your Location

Remember: safe use of rivers and any designated trails, at any time, is your responsibility! Trail maps are for informational and interpretive purposes only and are not meant for navigational purposes, nor do they take into account level of skills or ability required to navigate such trails. The Chesapeake Conservancy, National Park Service, and/or the individual trail associations assume no responsibility or liability for any injury or loss resulting directly or indirectly from the use of trails, maps or other printed or web-based materials.

Main image: John Dawson / Flickr

Hours

Sunrise to Sunset

Fees

No fees

Activities

  • Fishing
  • Canoeing
  • Camping (Lickdale, Union Canal, and Hershey Highmeadow Campgrounds)
  • Caving (Indian Echo Caverns)
  • Hiking trails (including the Appalachian & Horseshoe Trails)
  • Train rides (M&H Railroad)
  • Fossil collections in Swatara State Park
  • Exploring Union Canal locks along the entire length of the water trail

Facilities

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. 

Accessibility

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.

Last updated: April 05, 2019
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