Saturday, May 4, 2013

Rolling on the River

There is fun to be found all along the Schuylkill River.

The Schuylkill River is more than just something you cross on a bridge.

In addition to being the water supply for more than one million people, it is also a vastly under-appreciated recreational resource.

In the coming months, there will be plenty of opportunity to discover this resource.

What follows are three examples.

Pedal and Paddle

The Schuylkill River Heritage Area is bringing back its popular Pedal and Paddle events for 2013, with a total of five dates planned -- more than ever before.
Bicycles will be provided by Bike Pottstown.

All will take participants on a round-trip biking/kayaking adventure from Pottstown to Douglassville.

Each Pedal and Paddle will begin with a 4.5 mile bike ride from Pottstown’s Riverfront Park to Historic Morlatton Village in Douglassville, using yellow cruisers from the Bike Pottstown bike share program.

Participants will be given a guided tour of Morlatton Village, which includes four 18th century buildings, one of which is the oldest home in Berks County.

From there, they take a short bike ride to Douglassville’s Ganshahawny Park where they will eat lunch and receive a brief introduction to kayaking from outfitter Doug Chapman of Take it Outdoors Adventure Group.
Kayaks are provided and you enter at Ganshahawny Park
in Douglassville.

Then, they will paddle back to Pottstown in kayaks along the Schuylkill River.

Lunch, bikes, kayaks and all kayaking gear will be provided. Cost is $25 per person. All Pedals and Paddles take place on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to about 2 p.m.

To register call 484-945-0200; or email

The 2013 dates planned are: May 11, June 22, July 20, Aug. 17 and Sept. 7.

Space is limited. Advance registration required. Register no later than one week prior to the date of the event.

Schuylkill River Sojourn

If you would like to make a bigger commitment to paddling and less to pedaling, consider signing up for the the Schuylkill River Sojourn, which I can personally recommend as a great time. 
The Sojourn has you passing UNDER bridges on the
Schuylkill, like this one in Berks County, rather than
OVER the Schuylkill.

The sojourn is an annual 112-mile guided canoe/kayak trip on the Schuylkill River that begins in Schuylkill Haven and ends seven days later in Philadelphia's Boathouse Row.

Participants paddle 14-18 miles per day and can register for the entire trip or as little as one day.

Sometimes it is wet and wild.

At other times it is peaceful and inspiring.

There are a few rapids, calm water, plenty of laughs, songs at the campsites, and celebrations in the river towns.

A Sojourn traffic jam going through Lock 60 in Mont Clare.
There is a little bit of everything for paddlers throughout the week-long sojourn that begins the first weekend of June.

And though the same route is paddled every year, a different river greets sojourners every June.

But don't just take my word for it.

Check out this most excellent blog kept by former Mercury reporter Brandie Kessler last year when she paddled the entire length.

This year, it will occur from June 1 through 7 and the theme is "The Schuylkill During the Civil War."

You can check out the itinerary for each day by clicking here.

If you would like a fuller explanation of what happens on each day of the sojourn, check out the Schuylkill Heritage Association's blog on the subject.

Father's Day in the Big Woods

If you're looking to spend some quality time with Dad for Father's Day, why not consider the Eco-Tour being offered in the Hopewell Big Woods by the folks at ?
French Creek State Park

This 73,000-acre expanse includes some of the best regional trails, waterways, and scenic lunch spots in the area.

Float down the Schuylkill River, enjoy lunch on a boulder by the French Creek, and look for hidden treasure in the forest. Learn how regional trails and preserved open spaces impact our health and economy in a beneficial way, while enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the Big Woods in summer.

Activities include hiking, bicycling, kayaking, geocaching and more. Overnight accommodations will be provided in the rustic cabins in one of French Creek State Park’s historic group camps (tent camping is also an option).

A cabin at French Creek State Park.
The total cost for the weekend is $175/person and includes meals, activities and lodging.  The deadline to register is June 1.

Contact Lisa Miller at or 610-582-9680 for a brochure and registration form.

Participants must be at least 14 years of age, in reasonably good shape (able to hike, paddle, and bike over easy terrain for 3 or more hours at a stretch), and dress appropriately for the activities (a list of clothing needs will be supplied).  This event may be cancelled in the event of severe weather. 

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