Schuylkill Haven Island Park to Auburn Dam Canoe Launch

Difficulty: Moderate. Travel time: 2.5 to 3.5 hours, plus shuttling of vehicles. Water Level at USGS gauge #01468500 (Landingville): Min. 3.1 ft; Good 3.4 ft

The first 5-mile stretch of this trip twists and turns out of Schuylkill Haven and through state gamelands on its way to Landingville, a river/canal port for nearby Orwigsburg in its early 19th-century heyday. The riverside forest of hardwoods, conifers, and lush stands of native rhododendron (blooms in mid-June!) contrasts with occasional deeply-carved, blackened riverbanks that remind us of the river’s coal-clogged past. At good water levels, this is a beautiful ride with small rapids and riffles to keep your attention, including the one at the old breached dam at RM 117.4 that should be taken RL. (See a detailed “action map” of this feature by clicking/tapping on its hazard icon on the main map.) But higher water can make it “pushy” around its many bends. Downed trees and strainers are always something to be on the lookout for in this stretch.   

Below the Landingville Bridge (RM 115.0), you’ll begin to feel the slackwater from Auburn Dam, a “Schuylkill River Project” dam, about a mile ahead. Without the current-assist of the first stretch, you’ll need more effort to make your way into and across the Landingville Marsh area of the lake, but you may be rewarded with eagle, osprey, or heron sightings! About a third of the way across the lake on RR, near the compound filled with rusting coal silt-removal equipment, is your take-out, the Auburn Dam Canoe Launch.

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