According to a release issued by the Schuylkill River National & State Heritage Area, the Annual Schuylkill River Sojourn will soon bring a weeklong flurry of activity to the river corridor, as a flotilla of colorful canoes and kayaks float down the Schuylkill starting Saturday, June 2, in Schuylkill Haven and ending June 8 in Phialdelphia. The floatilla will be stopping in our area on Thursday, June 8, at the Upper Merion Boat House in Bridgeport at around 1:30 p.m. and again in West Conshohocken at the Former Five Tower Bridge Associates property at around 4:30 p.m.
Now in its 14th year, the sojourn is organized by the Schuylkill River Heritage Area, in Pottstown, which uses the annual event to draw attention to the river as a beautiful natural and recreational resource.
About 170 paddlers will participate this year, taking all or part of the seven-day, 112-mile guided canoe and kayak tour. A total of 40 will make the full trip, setting their kayaks into the water in Schuylkill Haven on June 2, traveling through five-counties (Schuylkill, Berks, Chester, Montgomery and Philadelphia), and bidding a bittersweet goodbye to the river at Philadelphia’s Boat House Row on June 8.
Each day, a maximum of 100 boats will be on the water — a site that is welcomed by people who cheer the sojourners on at bridges and roadsides along the way. The paddlers will visit a number of communities in the region when they stop for lunch and camp out in riverside parks.
“The sojourn provides an opportunity for people on and off the water to get excited about the river,” said Schuylkill River Heritage Area Executive Director Kurt Zwikl. “Paddlers experience the river as a dynamic recreational amenity. But many other people come out to watch the long line of kayaks and canoes pass by, and they gain insights into the value and beauty of the Schuylkill, as well.”
Learning about the river is an essential component of the sojourn, and each year educational programs are incorporated into the lunch and evening stops. The public is invited to attend all programs at evening campsites at no charge.
This year’s program theme is "Recreation and the River," focusing on recreational opportunities that are available throughout the region. The first evening, spent at a Port Clinton campsite, sojourners will get tips on packing a kayak. The following night, they’ll hear stories of hiking the Appalachian Trail. They’ll learn about cycling at the Gibraltar campsite, try yoga in Pottstown, get a lesson in orienteering in Mont Clare, and see a fly-fishing demo in Conshohocken. (Download the full list of scheduled public programs in our PDF section.)
The sojourn’s popularity has grown steadily over the years. Since its inception in 1999, over 2,000 registrants have traveled from 20 states and Washington, D.C. to participate. What’s more, the SRHA engages more than 70 partners annually to provide food, presentations, entertainment and funding.
While the Schuylkill River Sojourn is clearly a recreational endeavor, its primary purpose is to draw attention to the river as this region’s most critical natural resource. The river played a vital role during the American and Industrial Revolutions. In the 1940s, it was the site of one of the first major environmental cleanups of its kind, and today it is a source of drinking water for over 1.5 million people. Studies show that when people paddle a river, they are more likely to be concerned about the health of that river, and to take measures to protect it.
The Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area is a non-profit organization that uses conservation, education, recreation, historic preservation and tourism as tools for community revitalization and economic development. For more information, go to www.schuylkillriver.org/sojourn.aspx.
Approximate arrival and launch times of Sojourn stops:
Saturday, June 2
- Schuylkill Haven Launch – 9 a.m.
- Auburn Dam Lunch Arrival – noon. (Lunch program on Birding.)
- Port Clinton Arrival – 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 3
- Port Clinton Launch – 9 a.m.
- Peter Yarnell Landing Lunch – 12:30 p.m (Lunch program on Geo-caching.)
- Jim Dietrich Park Arrival – 5 p.m.
Monday June 4
- Jim Dietrich Park Launch – 9 a.m.
- Kelly’s Rapids – 10:50 a.m.
- Reading Riverfront Park Lunch – noon (Lunch program on Kayak Surfing.)
- Allegheny Aqueduct Park arrival – 5 p.m.
Tuesday, June 5
- Allegheny Aqueduct Park launch – 9 a.m.
- Morlatton Village Lunch Arrival – 11:30 a.m. (Lunch program on the National Trails System.)
- Pottstown Riverfront Park arrival – 3 p.m.
Wednesday, June 6
- Pottstown Riverfront Park launch – 9 a.m.
- Royersford Victory Park lunch arrival – noon (Lunch program on becoming an Olympic athlete.)
- Mont Clare arrival and Lock 60 lock-through – 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, June 7
- Mont Clare St. Michael’s Park launch – 9 a.m.
- Valley Forge National Historical Park Betzwood water stop – 11:30 a.m.
- Upper Merion Boathouse arrival – 1:30 p.m. (Lunch program on Sculling.)
- West Conshohocken (Former Five Tower Bridge Associates property) arrival – 4:30 p.m.
Friday, June 8
- West Conshohocken launch – 9 a.m.
- Philadelphia Canoe Club – 12:15 p.m. (Lunch program features a kayak raffle and recognitions.)
- Lloyd Hall, Boathouse Row final take out – 3:30 p.m.