Swatara Creek in Pennsylvania
This is a favorite paddling trip and can be extended for a full day or shortened for just a few hours on the water. We usually start at Hummel Park in Hummelstown, right across the creek from Hoss's. There's a trail next to the baseball field that leads back under the bridge for rt. 322... This is where we launch, then wind our way past Fiddler's Elbow (popular place for slalom races) and eventually past Indian Echo Caverns. The Middletown/Hummelstown railroad runs parallel to the creek for most of the trip, and can be picturesque if you don't mind the noise of the train as it passes. For a 3-hour afternoon trip, take out at Fulling Mill Road; it's easiest to spot the take out by watching for the old pier in the middle of the creek. I believe it's the remnants of a covered bridge that once was there. For a nice day trip, continue past down through Middletown and take out at the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission boat launch at the mouth of the Susquehanna river. To extend the trip even further you can start at the park in Union Deposit, but there is a dam in Hummelstown that will need portaged, and if you start even further upstream from that park, a very dangerous dam is an absolute must portage, lethal hydraulic at that one. The creek is mainly slow-moving flatwater, broken up at even intervals with some small class 1 riffles, nothing too challenging, but a nice change of pace when the flatwater begins to get monotonous.
There are no facilities or accommodations that I know of along the route. Prepare to rough it a bit, even though civilization is never far away.
No permits required except for Pa Boat registration to use the take out at the Susquehanna river.
Put in at Union Deposit: find your way to Hersheypark drive, and watch for signs for Union Deposit, you'll go over a narrow bridge that will cross the creek and you can see the park right in front of you. Lots of parking spaces and places to put in.
Put in at Hummel Park in Hummelstown. From 322 you need to go into Hummelstown to the square and turn left, when you see the Seven Eleven, the park is on your left. Follow the footpath back under the bridge and put in.
Put in at Fulling Mill Road: From 283 take the fulling mill road exit and turn right. Follow the road until it's end at the creek. Park and put in.
Keystone Canoeing is a great place to look for maps, directions, ratings, and hazards listings.
- Trip Duration: Day Trip
- Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)