Watsontown Borough to Lewisburg (w/Milton SP lunch stop) - 8.5 miles

River Miles: 8.5 miles

Estimated Paddle Time: 2-3 hours, depending on river level

Difficulty: Easy

Hazards: None of significance

Description: This trip includes an optional island lunch break at Milton State Park. At the Watsontown Borough Access (hand-carry access) one can view interpretive panels on the former West Branch Division of the Pennsylvania Canal, a pavilion designed to look like a canal boat, and walk the 1-mile Towpath Trail. From the Watsontown Borough Access (river left, river mile 15.9) look upstream to view the historic Watsontown Bridge. Built in 1927, the bridge has earned a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a unique example of a long, multi-span open-spandrel arch bridge with solid barrels, rather than individual arch rings. Across the river is the mouth of White Deer Hole Creek.

As you head downstream, the borough of Watsontown fades from view, and trees and fields dominate the landscape. Pass under the I-80 bridge and navigate around a couple small islands near a campground (private access). Around mile 12.5, Davis Island will come into view. Stay river left in low water and to reach the river access on the next larger island. 

At mile 11.4 (just after passing under PA-642 bridge, the location of USGS West Milton gauge), land at the Milton State Park boat launch (river left) for lunch and rest if desired. Picnic tables, water and restrooms can be found inland toward the upstream (north) section of the island. Walk off lunch with a short jaunt on the trails on the 82-acre island. The southern half, especially, is being managed for activities such as nature study and bird watching- the island is a rest area for migrating waterfowl and songbirds.

Launch and continue downstream, passing under a railroad bridge and power lines that transect the island. More farm fields and a small island, then you’ll reach the PA-45 bridge. Keep an eye out for the eagles that like to perch on the preceding railroad bridge here. The USGS gauge here can read as low as 1.2 and still afford passable water levels.

Take out at the Saint George Street canoe launch, river mile 7.3, on river right. Some folks may wish to explore historic downtown Lewisburg, walk the River Trail, spend the night, or continue downriver to float around Lake Augusta, formed by the fabridam at Shamokin Dam. 

Amenities: Watsontown, Milton, and Lewisburg all offer a range of dining, lodging, and cultural activities. Lewisburg is an official SGP River Town. After disembarking, relax and take in the river at one of 3 riverfront parks in the orough: Mariah Quant Memorial Garden, Soldiers Memorial Park, or Saint Anthony Street Park.

Put in:

River Mile 15.9: Watsontown Borough Access (canoe launch, river left)

Take Out:

River Mile 7.3: Saint George Street (canoe launch, river right)

Area Outfitters: Bic’s Water Sports and Outdoor Adventures (Milton)

Route
Milton State Park map, courtesy DCNR.
Milton State Park photo, courtesy DCNR.
Mariah Quant Memorial Garden, Lewisburg. 
Photo source unknown.