This quiet stretch of river is perfect for paddlers of all levels of experience. It is located near the hub of Pennsylvania’s State Capital as the river meanders south past remnants of the steel industry that served as one of the area’s earliest stimuli for growth.

To begin your journey, launch at the New Market Access on the west side of the Susquehanna just south of Harrisburg. An interpretive panel at the access point focuses on the historic steel industry and the steel mill heritage of the area. Just across the river from this access is the town of Steelton. The extensive works of the Pennsylvania Steel Company, later operated by Bethlehem Steel, are located along the Susquehanna River in Steelton. You will paddle past some of these remnants on river left.

As you continue south, you will also pass by a number of islands, most of which are privately owned, so be respectful of any no trespassing signs. Click here for details on the ownership of these islands. After you pass beneath the bridge of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, it’s just about 4 miles until you reach the mouth of Swatara Creek. Harrisburg International Airport will also be on river-left, so keep your eyes in the skies for planes landing and taking off.

Enter the mouth of Swatara Creek on river-left to reach the take-out point at the PFBC Middletown Access. An interpretive panel is located at this site with a focus on how land along the Swatara Creek was used, how the creek’s decline impacted the Chesapeake Bay, and current efforts to restore stream water quality.

Put In

River Mile 67.6; New Market Access
Amenities: boat ramp; near parking, restrooms, and picnic facilities

Take Out

River Mile 61.2; PFBC Middletown Access
Amenities: boat ramp; near parking, picnic, restroom, and food facilities

For Water Trail map, refer to:  Susquehanna River Water Trail – Lower Section: Map 1

More Day Trips in the Lower Section

Lake Aldred Loop

8.25 miles (can elect to make it shorter)


Muddy Creek Loop

8.7 miles


Marietta to Wrightsville

10 miles


Falmouth to Marietta

11 miles


Conowingo Reservoir Loop

7.5 miles


Columbia to Lock 2 Rec Area

5 miles