Marietta to Wrightsville

River Miles: 10 miles


Estimated paddle time: 3-4 hours 


Difficulty: Easy 


Hazards: Motorized boating traffic, high winds. Starting at river mile ~45 until Wrightsville (RM ~43), paddlers will encounter many rocks and ledges throughout the river, as well as intermittent riffles. Run river right until you paddle past the US-30 bridge near Wrightsville. Water around Conejohela Flats (~RM 39) is very shallow. Stay river right as you approach the Zimmerman Center access to avoid. 

 


 

Description: Your journey begins at the River Park access near the Rivertrail Pavilion in Marietta. The Northwest Lancaster County River Trail runs right by the pavilion and is a great way to bike to the towns of Marietta and Columbia after your trip if you are in the mood for a multi-modal experience. More information on the trail can be found here


The first few miles once putting into the river are a relatively calm and straightforward stretch. You will soon approach Marietta, which features numerous restaurants, lodging areas, trails, parks, and many other fun things to do. Chickies Rock County Park is a great place to visit after your paddle and can be accessed via the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail. The PFBC Marietta Access is also located near this park and is a good place to stop if needed. 


After paddling around the bend near RM 45, you will enter another relatively straight section, however, be aware of the numerous rock, ledges, and riffles in the river. Run this section river right until you paddle past the US-30 bridge near Wrightsville. You may also encounter high winds while paddling as well. A few smaller private river islands are featured on this stretch, including Rosebud Island on river right. You will soon approach the Wrights Ferry Bridge, as well as the Veterans Memorial Bridge, which connects Columbia to Wrightsville. There are several parks you will see from the river near both Columbia and Wrightsville, including Columbia River Park (which is located next to the Columbia Crossing River Trails Center), the Wrightsville Commons Park, and Riverfront Park, near the Wrightsville World War 2 Memorial. 

 

A bit further you will come upon a cluster of islands with private boat docks. Be mindful of boat traffic as you navigate around these islands. After you pass these, enjoy a nice leisurely paddle to the take-out on the waters of Clarke Lake. Be aware of some potential boating traffic in this stretch. Be sure to transition to river-right as you approach the Zimmerman Center for Heritage canoe access. After taking out, head on over to the Zimmerman Center to learn about the river history, attend a Heritage lecture, or learn about the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. You can also hop on the nearby Mason Dixon Trail, or head north to Klines Run Park and the Lake Clarke Marina. 


Across the river from the take-out, you can even see the Conejohela Flats, a series of islands and mudflats that are designated as a National Birding Area by the National Audubon Society. These flats serve as a vital habitat for a variety of migrating shorebirds, waterfowl, and other birds including bald eagles and ospreys. Paddlers cannot take out on the islands, but you should be able to see the numerous birds as you paddle to the Zimmerman Center take-out, and from the shore. 


Amenities: The River Park access has picnic pavilions, porta-potties, and a boat ramp. The Zimmerman Center for Heritage Access has a canoe access, with restroom and picnic facilities nearby at Klines Run Park (RM 39.6). 


Put In: 

River Mile 49: River Park Access (boat ramp) 

 


 

Take Out:

River Mile 39.1: Zimmerman Center for Heritage Access (canoe access) 

 

 

Images provided by terrain360.com

 

Area Outfitter: Chiques Rock Outfitters or Shank’s Mare Outfitters

 



View of the Columbia-Wrightsville Veterans Memorial Bridge. Photo via lancastercountymag.com