The Schuylkill River is a 135 mile long river that starts in the Poconos, flows right through downtown Philadelphia and connects with the Delaware River. The Schuylkill River was once home to the Lenape Indians. Later, the river was an important method of transportation for coal in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, the river is a popular place for outdoor recreation. On the water, you will find kayaks, canoes, boats and jet skis. Along the banks of the Schuylkill are many parks and the Schuylkill River Trail which runs for over 60 miles.
What Makes It Great
The best thing about the Schuylkill River is how easy it is to access. The closest put in spot is right in downtown off of Locust Street. The Schuylkill River is dammed at 8 places where paddlers are required to portage around. The section of river near downtown goes from the Delaware River to the Fairmount Dam near the Philadelphia Art Museum. Along this stretch of the Schuylkill River, you will see urban, industrial, and historic parts of the city of Philadelphia.
The next section, upstream from the Art Museum is another popular area for paddling. This section is popular for rowing and holds rowing competitions throughout the year that draw rowers from all over the country. Some attractions along this part of the river include boathouse row (15 historic rowing club buildings), Fairmount Park, and Flat Rock Dam. Flat Rock Dam can have class I, II, or III whitewater rapids depending on water levels.
The flow speed of the Schuylkill river is usually around 4 miles an hour. Further upstream on the Schuylkill river you will find less crowded areas with farms and woodlands along the sides of the river.
Who is Going to Love It
The Schuylkill River is a good place for any level paddler. On a summer day, you will see families cruising around on pedal boats and top level rowers speeding along the river. If you don’t have your own boat, you can rent one or book a trip with a service like Hidden River Outfitters or the Philadelphia Canoe Club. The Schuylkill is also a popular spot to fish from the side of the river or from a boat.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The closest place to get into the water from downtown Philadelphia is at the Schuylkill Banks park off of Locust Street (this is the location listed on the map).
Another put in option on the west side of the river is Bartrams Garden off of Lindbergh Blvd.
For the section of river above the Fairmount Dam, the best place to put in is the East Park Canoe House. It is located in Fairmount Park off of Kelly Drive.