Pottstown Riverfront Park to Trinley River Park

Difficulty: Easy. Travel time: 3 to 4.5 hours, plus shuttling of vehicles. Water Level at USGS gauge #01472000 (Pottstown): Min. 1.1 ft; Good 2.6 ft.

This section of the river is a wide, slowly-flowing stretch of flatwater, with the exception of one notable Class I rapid at the end. (More on that later.)

You’ll put in at Pottstown Riverfront Park (RM 53.9, RL), which is also the home of the Schuylkill River Greenways, the force behind the Schuylkill River Water Trail, the famous Schuylkill River Trail (biking, jogging, walking), and many more programs, events, services, and initiatives that protect, improve, maintain, and promote the entire Schuylkill River Watershed.

Riverfront Park is also the home base of Take It Outdoors, the official outfitter partner of the SRG. This trip is one of their regular offerings. Check them out for kayaking & biking guided trips, rentals, and shuttles.

Just downstream on RR (at RM 53.7) is the Hanover Street Access PFBC boat ramp. Just beyond (beginning at RM 53.4), is a  mile-long series of islands, with multiple channels to explore. This stretch is a favorite of local fishermen and is easily passable through the center channel or the RR channel (a narrower, shaded passage with a little more water and current).

Towpath Park, just ahead on RR (RM 51.4), is only about a third of the way into this trip, but it’s a convenient place to stop for a picnic lunch, porta-potties, or a stretch-the-legs break. Towpath is also the last water trail landing before your Trinley River Park take-out 6 miles ahead.

As you leave Towpath Park you are also leaving behind Pottstown’s post-industrial riverside and heading into the rolling hills of Montgomery County (RL) and Chester County (RR). This is the last stretch of rural countryside before entering the outskirts of Royersford/Spring City and other Greater Philadelphia higher-density communities. But this is rural countryside only if you consider the “exclusion zone” of a nuclear powerplant to be rural. You may have already seen the plumes that look like strange vertical clouds. Soon the imposing cooling towers of the Limerick Nuclear Generating Station will be looming on RL, then straight ahead. And then they disappear. Wait, there they are again on RR! Because the river snakes around before passing the powerplant, this game of hide-and-seek goes on for 2 or 3 miles. As you finally float right by the Limerick powerplant on RL (at RM 48.3), you may ponder the nuclear-fueled marvel of infrastructure towering beside you. But this place on the river also provides another moment in the timeline of American energy history. Just out of sight on RR lies the canal-era ghost town of Frick’s Lock Village, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This village grew from a family farm to become a thriving point along the supply line of an early 19th-century America that was then powered by Schuylkill County anthracite, not uranium-235!

Before there was a Linfield Bridge at RM 46.9, there was a shallows in the river called Parker’s Ford. General George Washington and his Continental Army crossed and regrouped here after their shellacking at the Battle of Brandywine in September of 1777.

Around the big left bend beginning just below Linfield Bridge, a surprise awaits. The remnants of the former Vincent Dam (RM 44.9), where once stood a Schuylkill Navigation dam, locks, and a slackwater pool, are now an entertaining, straight-forward Class I rapid with two choices of wetness. To get a big splash, drop through the RL chute. For a bigger splash, go left center! (See a detailed “action map” of this feature by clicking/tapping on its hazard icon on the main map.)

Luckily for those of you who didn’t wear a sprayskirt, your take-out at Trinley River Park (RM 44.5, RL) is just ahead. This peaceful fishing and picnic park with a wide boat ramp is an easy place to take out and empty that half-boat of Vincent Dam river water!

(For more than these excerpts and website provide, see A Paddler’s Guide to the Schuylkill River Water Trail.)