Schuylkill River Paddle!

So ready for warmer weather and kayaking season again! On a warm Saturday last fall, we started our exploration of the Schuylkill River, near Landingville, PA, down to the basin created by the Auburn Dam.

Because of a dam constructed to catch coal mine silt in the late 1940s — part of the effort to restore the river to health — the water current is lazy at best, making it an easy paddle, even for beginners. Much of the area immediately surrounding the river is incorporated into the Schuylkill River Heritage Area, and protected as a result.

The Schuylkill River Heritage Area was created by an Act of Congress in 2000 to preserve and protect the Schuylkill River Valley because of the role the region played in the American, Industrial, and Environmental revolutions, according to A River Again: The Story of the Schuylkill River Project, (

The river had once been one of North America’s most polluted, vile waterways, not fit to drink, and not really safe to swim or fish in, not that there was much fishing, since fish and other wild creatures couldn’t survive in or near the river. Through the efforts begun in 1947, it is no longer so polluted. We saw a number of fish jumping out of the water, attesting to their numbers. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any eagles, but eagle sightings are not rare in the area.

We picked up the river at a parking lot across from Landingville Playground, following the river down a few miles to the lake created by a dam. We explored the lake for a bit, pulled up on the shore to enjoy a picnic lunch, and then headed back.

The several bridges we passed under made the paddle interesting and fun.

Although it was theoretically against the river current, the Schuylkill River at this point is lazy enough that it was easy paddling in both directions. This is a good beginner trip, and in fact, we went with about 12 friends (and four dogs), six of whom were entirely new to kayaking and canoeing.

For more information about the history of the Schuylkill River and the effort to clean it up, check out

For an aerial tour of our picnic location:

Know before you go: The parking lot is unmarked but obvious. Access to the river is about 60 yards through a small field and then some brush immediately adjacent the river, but there’s a nice shallow bank access point to launch from.

Getting there:  I have not located a GPSable street address for the parking lot. From PA 61 and PA 895 in Deer Lake, go north on PA 61 for 3.3 miles and turn left onto Adamsdale Road (two roads go left at this point, Adamsdale Road is the second (westernmost) one). Continue 0.9 mile and turn left (south) on Meadow Drive. Go 0.8 mile and turn left on Canal Street. Go through the park, along the river, and over the one-lane bridge 0.9 mile to the parking area on the left. Canal Street becomes Tunnel Road south of this point.


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