Auburn (895) Landing to Port Clinton Park
Difficulty: Moderate. Travel time: 2.5 to 4 hours, plus shuttling of vehicles. Water level at USGS gauge #01468500 (Landingville): Min. 3.1 ft; Good 3.6 ft.
When the water levels are right, this wild and scenic run can be one of the most enjoyable trips on the entire Schuylkill River Water Trail.
About a mile into your trip (at RM 108.6), you will encounter the “Little Chutes,” a railroad bridge with a shallow dam built into the base. A major logjam has built up on the RR side of this multi-arch bridge. Previously, the route through this bridge has been on RR, but until this obstruction is removed, the best on-water route may be through the 3rd arch from RL. But CAUTION: There is a significant right-to-left current in this area. Good boat control is needed to negotiate that arch and also the hard right turn at the head of the island just past the bridge. Higher water levels may make this passage even more difficult. To avoid, portage through the 1st arch on RR (normally over dry land).
About one mile (3 bridges) later, you’ll arrive at “The Chutes of Death,” the highly-exaggerated moniker affectionately given to a small dam built into the archways of this old railroad bridge (RM 107.3). To run the dam, traditional advice has been to use Arch #5 (5th archway from RL with stone pier on right and brick pier on left) or Chute #6. But frequent accumulations of logs and debris on the bridge piers have made predicting the best route more difficult. Scout ahead and if you do decide to run the dam, paddle hard into the middle of the chute. Keep paddling when you drop into the pool and until you are beyond the dam’s boil! (NOTE: You will get wet! The rocky beach just ahead on RR is a good place to “de-water” your boat and maybe yourself!) There is a RR portage option. Be aware that these chutes feature a hard 2-3 ft. drop that could damage wooden, Kevlar, or other fragile boats. Avoid bringing those kinds of boats here or portage.
After the excitement of The Chutes, you begin the last five miles into Port Clinton. This stretch includes more than a dozen Class I and I+ rapids that will entertain and challenge you as you gradually drop into the deep forested valley of the Schuylkill Gap. The Appalachian Trail and Schuylkill River Trail course above you on RR and rocky outcroppings rise from the river. Your final approach into Port Clinton Park is punctuated by two longish rapids with big, splashy wave trains, one right after the other!