Susquehanna River

Hello all. I was just wondering, can you canoe the whole Susquehanna River? I have been doing some research, and so far I have found that there is one section of class III rapids after the spring runoff. Are there any other sections that I should be aware of? Are there any good sites that you can point me to concerning this? I am thinking of attempting this in a little over a year, so I am just trying to figure out what to train for and what to expect in the meantime. Thanks a lot for any input.


Use the search tool to search this part of the website. Someone just finished doing the whole Sus. recently.

river trail website & guide book
check out this website:

They have maps of the entire river trail.

I also own a guidebook for PA rivers - it’s called “Keystone Canoeing” or something like that. I have it at home, and I’d be willing to sell it you you, since I don’t live in PA anymore. Let me know if you’re interested.

I’ve done several sections of the Susquehanna, but never the entire thing. But the sections I did was for the fun play spots where there are some nice standing waves for surfing (just north of Harrisburg at the “statue of liberty”). I think there might be some low-head dams in several places you’ll want to know about before doing the entire trip.

Some have done it: search the web
A couple of links (but not the one I remembered):

On one write-up, I remember the author discovering that the dam operators were required to provide a portage around the dam to paddlers; I may be wrong, but you might want to check this out.

Thanks for asking this…
I’d read about the PNET’r who just completed the whole thing. I think it sounds like an excellent adventure. I e-mailed them for some info- but, I didn’t hear back.

Anyway… this sounds like fun. Let me know what you find!

Figured you’d hear from Andy
aka, canoedancing, since in August he told me he was planning to paddle suzy-q end-to-end. I wonder if he is out there now. Try finding one of his posts and sending him a PM.

I’ve heard from others the hardest part of the trip is portaging around some of the dams.


South of Wilkes-Barre as you exit Wyoming Valley you will encounter a series of rapids which normally are not a problem. At certain levels the can be class 2.

Farther South, near Berwick under the Rt 93 bridge you might run into a weird off-camber rapid which can be portaged. Of the 2 rapids this might be the cause for the most concern.

Good luck in your adventure.

Thanks for all of the help so far! It sounds like it would be a really trip. Hopefully we can make it happen.


Littlepags, we have a cabin on the Susq. located between the last 2 dams on the river near Lancaster.Two of my neighbors there did the whole thing a few yrs.back. I will try to get you in touch w/them.You can get portage transport from the dam personnel but I believe that is only the ones that have generating stations,and give them at least 24 hrs. notice. more to come…LB Frank

Don’t forget
to do the West Branch too. There’s some great mountain scenery east of Clearfield and west of Lock Haven.

I’m just finishing up the river
Hello folks. I’ve been reading for over a year now and have yet to post. Everytime someone asks a question everyone beats me to the answer. I think this time I can help. My name is Scott and I live near the river in northeastern Pa. I started planning my river trip over a year ago. I set out the 4th weekend in April, and paddled three weekends in May until my paddling partner bailed on my in Bloomsburg, Pa. I picked back up with the trip, solo, the 2nd weekend in October paddling from Bloomsburg to Clarks Ferry. Last Sunday I paddled from Clarks Ferry to the York Haven Dam. I hope to get out again soon and wrap it up. I’ve spent a year researching this trip. (Certainly longer than I needed to, but isn’t that part of the fun?) Unfortunatly there is not a sinlge, “one stop shop” for information about paddling the entire river. At least I never found anything. I’ve been collecting information to try to change that. Get a hold of me and I can provide you with a wealth of information. There are detailed maps of nearly the entire river. That water trail site looks good, as do their t-shirts, however they actually only appear to cover the 54 miles between Sunbury and Harrisburg, not the true entire water trail. They do maintain some nice island campsite though. I can show you the maps but you’ll definitly want to purchase all of them if you get serious about the trip. Heck, buy them anyway, they’re great and the money goes to a good cause. Here’s a bunch of links to get you started. There is an annual race from Otsego Lake each year that covers 70 miles. Here’s a link that is actaully access points to the river, intended for pit crews, that I found helpful. It has pictures of the dams and portage routes found during that section.

Take caution as to when in the year you start your trip. We started the 4th weekend in April and they had yet to clear all the downed trees at the beginning of the river, prior to the race. The river is as wide as a two laned road here, narrower sometimes, and with each turn we found massive amounts of natual debris that we had to portage, at least we slept well that night! We actually made a “wrong turn” while paddling Goodyear Lake. It’s not just a big round lake and we ended up paddling “straight” when we should have turned left not far into the lake. There is a ledge in Oneonta that we ran river left with no problems. It’s visible on the right side of I88 as you head towards Albany. There is also low head dam in Oneonta that was not marked anywhere on the river. It’s located behind the Neptune Diner. Portage is on river right. A great read is from two guys who kayaked it a few years back, they inlcude lots of photos:!OpenDocument

A previous poster mentions the Route 93 bridge. This is Nescpoeck Falls. Don’t let the name scare you. This is at mile 160 of the river (counting up from the Bay) There is a large island prior to that section. The main part of the river goes river left. Immediatly after the island we moved river right. Scouting opportunites looked slim. We ran it river right with no problems. Another spot in that area was Nanticoke Rapids at mile 180. We ran that river right with no problems. That puts you to Central PA where I just got through. The Statue of Liberty is a 25 foot replica on and old Bridge support in the middle of the river in Dauphin, Pa. That is a technical section of the river. Here’s a guy who has a bunch of pics of that area if you search a round a little. Realize the people in the pics were out searching for those spots. You can easily run that section river left and basically bypass nearly all the rocks and waves. Well that’s as far as I’ve got. I think I have about 56 miles to go, most of which is actaully lake paddling. 23.5 miles from York Haven Dam to Safe Harbor Dam (10 miles of which forms Lake Clarke) 7.5 miles from Safe Harbor Dam to Holtwood Dam (All of whcih forms Lake Aldred) At Holtwood Dam they portage you about 3 miles and drop you in with 22 miles to go. (14 miles of which form Conowingo Pond) Here’s one last link of a wave near Bainbridge, Pa. I haven’t got here yet so I can’t report on it. Clearly from the video it was warm weather at this high level, but that’s not to say it wasn’t after a heavy rain or a good old fashion hurricane:

Wow that was a lot to write. Good luck. I strongly encouge folks to get out and paddle this great river.


Dauphin Narrows
I forgot to add the link to photos of Dauphin Narrows. (like anyone noticed)


lil’ pegs writes:
“I was just wondering, can you canoe the whole Susquehanna River?”

No, I cannot.

And that is the correct answer to your question.

NM :wink:

You can paddle the whole Delaware River
It’s 79 miles, the longest unobstructed river in the east.

April and May you will find lots of class II+ rapids. It’s a whole lot of fun and would be well worth the trip.

second longest
The Rappahannock is 181 miles unobstructed

Maybe the third longest
I recall that the Saint John River in Maine flows for about 200 miles unobstructed to the Grand Falls Dam. The first 120 miles are nearly uninhabited.

Dauphin Narrows
Didnt know about River Left - went in the middle with my new 16.5ft tempest and not a great paddler - went up on a rock/tipped/many hours and 2 boats attempts(Fire jet boat and Fish and Boat Commission) I was thrown a rope and pulled to an island. Learned many lessons that day. Trust instincts - not strangers - know what you are getting into - carry safety gear in “each” boat.Made the news but not in a good way. It has now made me terrified of fast flowing rivers.

Okay guys, I was just going by NPS
information. Maybe it’s not the longest, I have not checked it out personally.