Imagine this: Above you, an expansive night sky filled with stars. All around you, the chirps of crickets and the soft sounds of the Susquehanna River. In front of you, a cozy, glowing fire. That’s what it’s like to camp out on the beautiful and secluded islands within the Susquehanna River Water Trail.
With #NationalCampingMonth well underway, it’s the perfect time to try out this one-of-a-kind camping experience!
Photo by Rita Kurtz
Located in the middle section of the Susquehanna River Water Trail, the network of camping islands run from Sunbury to Harrisburg. These 23 publicly-owned islands are open to the public and accessible by boat, kayak, or scuba-diving (if that’s your thing).
Many of the islands offer unique spots for fishing as well as camping and exploring, and most have a beach area to dock your boat, a logbook to record your visit, and several primitive campsites complete with fire rings. So be sure to invite your friends and family to join in on the fun.
A few notable islands include Island 93 and Island 89. Located along a 10.8-mile section of the river trail beginning in Halifax, these islands have become favorites of river campers due to their accessibility and large size.
This shorter section of the river trail is also perfect for a short overnight paddle or day trip, and the islands make great places for afternoon picnics or rest stops for paddlers. More information about Islands 93 and 89 including their location on the river can be found here.
If your adventure steers you further north on the Middle Susquehanna, you may find yourself near the Susquehanna Greenway River Town of Selinsgrove. This historic town along the Susquehanna River is full of great places to grab a bite to eat or a drink. Or you can visit White’s Island, which hides the overgrown remains of an old railroad bridge.
While on the river, don’t forget to keep an eye out for the Susquehanna wildlife. Blue herons, deer, raccoons, eagles, and beavers are commonly sighted along the riverbanks and on the islands.
In addition to the privately-owned islands, a few of the islands are closed to the public as nature preserves. As you pass these islands, paddle quietly to see if you can catch sight of the wildlife that live there.
For all you bird lovers, Wade Island, located outside of Harrisburg, is a popular rookery that is known to host nesting egrets during the summer months.
As you adventure down the river, please be aware of potential river hazards. There are two major dams along this section of river: the Adam T. Bower Memorial Dam and Harrisburg’s Dock Street Dam. Before embarking on any Susquehanna adventure, note the location of these and other hazards and be prepared to handle them. You can find these and other hazards on the waterproof River Trail Map, which is available for sale at your local outdoor store.
The islands are maintained by volunteers from the Susquehanna River Trail Association. Volunteers work hard to maintain the camping sites and provide a pleasurable experience for all. While camping, please enjoy the islands responsibly and practice ‘Leave-No-Trace,’ principles in order to minimize your impact and maintain the island environments. Note: Not all of the islands are open to public access – consult the Middle Section Water Trail map and/or SRTA website for more info.