2023 PA River of the Year Map
Conestoga River

Conestoga River

Meandering along a 63-mile course and draining just over 475 miles of watershed on its way to the Susquehanna, the Conestoga River is the very heart of Lancaster County.

She has driven our economic development, recreational activities and been host to some of the most significant history in our nation. She is ever changing but constant. She is our connection to our culture, our planet and to each other. She is Our River, and her time is now. Join the Conestoga River Club as we host a variety of River of the Year activities so that you too can see why we love Her.

Perkiomen Creek
Photo Credit Jerry Snyder

Perkiomen Creek

The Perkiomen Creek is a true hidden gem. Located just northwest of Philadelphia, the Perkiomen offers a host of opportunities to explore the wildlands of southeastern Pennsylvania. The creek itself offers over 14 miles of paddling and is the newest PA State Water Trail in the system. In addition to the water trail, the creek is flanked by its land-based counterpart, the Perkiomen Trail, which parallels the creek on a repurposed railroad bed for over 20 miles.

The creek is cared for by the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy, who holds a number of fun and engaging events both in and along the creek. The premier events in this lineup include the Lenape Challenge Adventure Race, the Perkiomen Creek Sojourn and the the Perkiomen Creek Stream Cleanup. The Lenape Challenge is a team challenge where partners run 5 miles along the creek and over Spring Mountain, then paddle 2 1/2 miles down the creek to the finish at the Conservancy’s headquarters. The Sojourn is steadily growing in popularity, and in 2022 over 200 paddlers traversed the 10 mile course from Schwenksville to Oaks. The Stream Cleanup is the largest single-day stream cleanup in the state of Pennsylvania and routinely attracts nearly 2,000 volunteers annually. The Perkiomen Creek offers the perfect blend of accessibility and escape… it’s a truly beautiful greenway that’s located close to home.

Schuylkill River

Schuylkill River

The indigenous people of the Unami Tribe of the Lenni Lenapes gave it several names, including Ganshowahanna, meaning “falling waters.” Later, a Dutch Settler would call it the Skokihl, which translates to “hidden river” and has evolved into what we now call The Schuylkill River. Each name captures something special about this river that finds its start on Broad Mountain near Frackville, PA and wanders 135 miles through some of the most scenic and historically significant landscapes in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

From the wilds of Schuylkill County to the bright lights of Philadelphia, the river has been home to the coal, paper, and iron industries with settlements growing and thriving along its banks. The City of Philadelphia was founded at its mouth and Fairmount Park still serves as a centerpiece of recreation and history in the city.

The health of the Schuylkill River is constantly at risk from storm water runoff, agricultural materials entering the watershed, and damage from abandoned mines. In recent years, the health of the river has been improving, thanks to increased understanding of the environmental impacts throughout the 2000 square mile watershed.

Schuylkill River Greenways is working to bring the economic and health benefits of this “hidden river” to communities throughout the watershed through recreational use and the development of businesses along its route. Spotlighting the Schuylkill as River of the Year for 2023 would help improve not only the health of the river, but also improve the public’s perception of the river as a vital resource for communities from beginning to end.

Susquehanna River

Susquehanna River North Branch

Dating back well over 300 million years, the Susquehanna River Water Trail’s North Branch is a waterway rooted in history and unparalleled beauty. Steep forested hills, staggering cliffs, Native American lookout points and sacred sites, remains of historic canals and ferry systems, quaint downtowns, and countless connections to industrial booms like the anthracite coal period of the 1800s are unique reminders of this water trail’s fascinating past and unrivaled magnificence.

Flowing from the New York State line to Sunbury, PA near Shikellamy State Park at the confluence with the Susquehanna River’s West Branch, the North Branch meanders through eight Pennsylvania counties including Susquehanna, Bradford, Wyoming, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Columbia, Montour, and Northumberland. Co-managed by the Endless Mountains Heritage Region and the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership, this water trail is widely used by paddlers, anglers, recreational boaters, and wildlife enthusiasts. Recreationalists enjoy the calm, class-I waters which serve as both a playground for experienced boaters to explore the area’s natural and historic offerings, as well as a learning ground for new and novice paddlers to develop their skills. In addition to the paddling opportunities along the waterway, visitors are surrounded by abundant history. These historic connections earned the water trail a “National Recreation Trail” designation by the National Park Service in 2009 as part of the larger Captain John Smith Historic Trail system; a recreation trail that celebrates the exchange of goods and cultures between the early, famed explorer of the Chesapeake Bay and the native peoples of the Susquehanna River basin.

Voting for River of the Year has now ended. Check back soon for results!

For more information contact Angela Vitkoski at avitkoski@pecpa.org.

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