Lancaster County PA

I’m thinking about taking a trip to PA in July, wife wants to visit Amish area and of course I’ll be taking our (my) canoe along to paddle with the kids.

So question is can anyone recommend a good place (campground) to stay and close to a river?


Otter creek Campground

– Last Updated: May-09-06 10:38 PM EST –

in the York Co side of the Susquehanna,just off route 425. Campground is about 500' from a boat launch. However you must have a DCNR,or registerd boat to use on the Fish commission launch ramp,with out getting fined.Muddy Run Park on the Lancaster Co side{has it's own lake},but the campground is about 5 miles to the SusQue on route 372. Lock 15 is another Fish commission ramp,just accross the bridge ,again on the York Co side.
both are about 1 hours drive from Amish country,but you don't want to camp in Amish country. The out of town tourists are insane at those campgrounds.{noisey, & rude} Otter creek & Muddy run are quiet,and located in historic,and wooded areas to explore. We stay at both,and have been going there for years. They can send you info if you call. Ask for Wayne or Lorie at Otter creek,they are real helpfull. Hope this helps.

Happy Paddling billinpa

Why have canoe registerd?
If I’m from another state which doesn’t require a registration for canoes. Seems to me I shouldn’t need one. I’m sure not going to register in PA if I live in GA.

Not sure how to answer you…
All I know is if you in Pa,and don’t have a registration,or DCNR launch permit,you will get fined using Fish & Boat ramps. There is a free section of the Susquehanna,owned by a power corporation,and no registration,or permit needed. That area is north of the Safe Harbor Dam to the Columbia /Wrightsville bridge,from there up it all Fish & Boat waters again.I know Pa allows out of state boat to use their waters if registered,or permitted out of state.But if your state requires no registration I can’t answer you.You may try E-mailing here:

Muddy Run Park Lake does not require registration.

Hope this helps.

Happy Paddling billinpa

I “second” Muddy Run Campground
I camp at Muddy Run Campground a lot. It is my favorite place. Also it is only $22.50 per night for a couple days,and cheaper by the week.

This place has a 100 acre lake that I like to kayak in. It is in the shape of a Capital “Y”. It is 3.5 miles around the perimiter too. Use of the lake is free if you are camping there. The lake is owned by the campground, so if not camping they charge a $3.00 ramp fee.

Also, Muddy Run campground is about 2 miles from the Susquehanna River.

In PA, you can use most rivers and lakes free without registration, EXCEPT…

Boats mush be registered or have a $10.00 a year launch permit for state parks.

The PA Fish Commission has built many ramps on major rivers and lakes. You need the boat to be registered or have the $10.00 launch permit to use the ramps. They will fine you pretty heavy if caught using the ramp areas without anything.

Ok, now
So if I use the boat ramp I need a permit. No problem there, but I have a canoe and don’t usually use a boat ramp. The lake at the campground sounds good, at least it’s convenient. But I was actually hoping to get on a nice river for some down stream paddling and checking out the scenery. Are there any outfitters around there that could possibly take or pick us up, using our own canoe? Or if there is a good run for beginners to enjoy, maybe I could just get my wife to drop us off and pick us up.


Shanksmare Outfitters:

They are located on the free section of the Susquehanna,and you can launch right in front of the place. I am not sure they do shuttles,but contact them & find out. They do river trips with transportation,check trips section. Maybe you would be visiting on of their trip dates.

BTW if you launch on the river,but not on a Fish & Boat ramp thats Ok,but don’t try to take out on one,your busted. They can’t do anything about putting in ,or taking out on non ramp areas. However you are subject to Fish & Boat rules,as to wearing PFD’s and such. The link to Fish & Boat should have all the info you need. Welcome to the land of taxes,and it ain’t spent on our roads, that money feeds polticians pockets. We tax/permit/register/charge almost everything so bring plenty of money.LOL

Happy Paddling billinpa

Bill knows more about Shanks Mare than I do, so I’ll let him talk about what they have to offer. All I know is that they are some nice folks, and have treated me well the few times I’ve been in their place.

If you don’t mind driving up the river a little bit, Blue Mountain Outfitters runs shuttles all the time. They would also be good folks to talk to about streams to paddle in the area. If you wind up needing a permit, they try to keep a few on hand. Their website is

Washington Boro and Blue rock Rd…
Directly across the river from Shanks Mare,(1 1/2 miles of flat water) is Blue Rock Rd. w/ a large parking area and a FREE launch area owned and built by Washington Boro recreation commission. There are lots of eagles,falcons,ospreys etc. on the many small islands located about 1/4 mile from the launch site.

No permits necessary. If you want to visit Shanks Mare outfitters,just paddle straight across the river to them.You might possibly run in to a lot of P-net paddlers that put in here.

No matter where you camp,just go west on Rt.30 or Rt 462 to Rt 441 south. Go south on 441 about 4 miles to Washington Boro then continue exacyly .5 mile to Blue Rock Rd. Turn right into the parking area.


I’m surprised billinpa didn’t mention…
that for a modest fee, you can camp in his backyard (this includes a continental breakfast graciously served by his lovely wife joaninpa).

At any rate, it should be pointed out that the lower Susquehanna is divided into a series of “man-made lakes” by the hydroelectric dams. Muddy Run is also a man-made lake.

If you want current, you may be looking at doing a section of the Conestoga. If your wife could drop you off behind the althletic fields at Millersville University, she could wait for you at Safe Harbor Park. This is a fun class I (&sometimes II) run with only one possible portage…the dam at Rock Hill is sometimes runable. Not sure how old your kids are but the last mile or so can be turbulent after rainstorms.

Another possible campground suggestion that would put you more in the “Amish-country” area is “Mill Stream Campground.” This stream is, rainfall permitting, paddleable up- & downstream for limited jaunts (could probably go pretty far if willing to wade through obstructions). If your kids are pretty young, they may just like this better than the “Stoga” (STOga, STOga,).

if you want further info on the area, email me.