It would be very difficult to find a more relaxing way to spend a few hours than floating down a creek or river with your family or friends.
Making plans to get away with a group of people have become much more complicated due to the pandemic. With social distancing becoming the new normal, many people have taken to kayaking or tubing, due to its natural distancing parameters.
We talked with Mike Parker, Communications Director for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and he says floating has become increasingly popular during the pandemic. He had some important safety tips for people who have little or no experience floating.
- Wear your life jacket. Life jackets are proven to save lives. The law states that a boat must have one life jacket for every person on board.
- Research where you’re going and create a float plan. It can take several hours on a stream to get from one access point to another. There could be obstacles to maneuver that will require you to get out and move around.
- A launch permit must be obtained if you’re planning on using any public launch access.
- Take plenty of water and sunscreen. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged, and bring a dry bag to keep your items in.
- Text or call a friend or family member before you begin your float to let them know what you’re doing. This is very important in case something may happen and you get lost in the water.
- Never operate a boat under the influence. Boating laws are the same as motor vehicle laws when it comes to intoxication levels.
- Check the weather forecast. (You can check the abc27 forecast online or on our app!)
The Midstate has plenty of great bodies of water that are great for floating. We have compiled a list of some of the best waters (with helpful links for directions!) to get out and explore while the weather is still warm.
Yellow Breeches Creek – Cumberland County
The Yellow Breeches Creek is known for great fishing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great river to float. Spanning just over 56 miles long, this creek has plenty of great stretches to get out and float uninterrupted. An optimal route for this float is to start at South Middleton Township Park and float to Boiling Springs.
Swatara Creek – Dauphin County
The Swatara Creek is a 72 mile-long body of water that includes over 60 miles of public paddling trails. This creek is generally a slow-moving, shallow creek that is suitable for all levels of experience. A great route for this creek is from Gravel Hill Road to Boathouse Park, which is maintained by Derry Township.
Juniata River – Juniata/Perry County
The Juniata River is a great float for those in the northern part of the Midstate. The water levels vary throughout the year, so this float may be tricky to time during the summer. Water levels are typically at peak levels from March through July, but a rainstorm could provide a sufficient water level during the summer. There are plenty of opportunities to fish in the river with fish such as trout, smallmouth bass, and others that would provide an added bonus to a float.
Conestoga River – Lancaster County
The Conestoga River is a 61+ mile long river that flows right through the center of Lancaster County. An important tip for this body of water is that although it is classified as a river, it acts more like a creek in many places. This means that the water is shallow in many areas, thus meaning that big boats would not do well in these waters. It is popular for canoeing and kayaking. A great float starts at Perelman Park and ends at West Earl Community Park.
Codorus Creek – York County
The Codorus Creek is a 42-mile long creek that flows through York County. This creek is classified as an intermediate level creek to float. It’s a very shallow body of water, so plan to bring a smaller kayak. Tubes are not allowed on most parts of the Codorus. This is a great body of water if you have more experience and want more of a challenge. A great route for this float starts at John Rudy Park and goes to Codorus Furnace Road.
…And an added bonus: Flowing through the entire state of Pennsylvania, the Susquehanna River!
The Susquehanna River, at 444 miles long, is the longest river on the East Coast! It is perfect for floating, fishing, boating, etc. It has something available for the whole family. The river is over a mile wide, meaning you could launch from the same access point multiple times and explore different locations and have different experiences every time. The river is known to flow slowly, so make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to float. It is host to numerous bass fishing tournaments each year and is known for being one of the best bass fishing rivers in North America.