WARNING TO ALL RIVER TRAIL USERS: Canoeing, kayaking, boating, camping and other river-related outdoor activities have inherent risks. The river environment (moving water, cold water, deep water, tricky currents, rocks, poison ivy, ticks, etc.), weather extremes (cold, heat, electrical storms, wind, etc.), and man –made structures (esp. dams) pose potential hazards. The river trail user should familiarize themselves with these hazards and have or obtain adequate skills to safely experience the river environment. Your safety is your responsibility!
Some general safety tips:
The video below provides all of us with some excellent tips on low impact camping, leave no trace, and some important safety issues to consider. It focuses on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness but much of it is applicable to our own Susquehanna River Water Trail.
- Always wear a life jacket.
- Always let someone know the plan for your voyage - where you are traveling, putting in, taking out, and when you expect to return.
- Trail use should be avoided when the river levels on the Harrisburg gauge exceed five feet. Never boat when river levels are high or the river is flooding.
- Stay river left (towards the east shore) when navigating through the Dauphin Narrows and McKees Half Falls. Avoid river left near Berry Mountain just downstream of Millersburg.
- Dams can be deadly. When approaching a dam from upstream, keep a minimum of 200 feet away. When approaching a dam from downstream, keep a minimum of 100 feet away. All dams must be portaged. Dams are located at Sunbury, Shamokin Dam, and Harrisburg.
- Always carry plenty of water and snacks. Sunscreen is recommended.
- On islands, watch out for poison ivy. It is quite common.
- Anticipate shallow conditions in many sections of the river during the summer months. Allow ample time to complete your voyage.
- If you might be on the river after dark, have lights aboard and always be sure to comply with PA Fish and Boat Commission boating regulations.