Tubing on the Schuylkill River

A couple of weeks ago, Mom, Maria, and I went tubing on the Schuylkill River near Birdsboro, and we had a great time.  We went with the Schuylkill River Outdoors outfit, which is a business that opened up last year in Monocacy Station.

We drove to their location on the river, parked the car, and paid $15 each for the ~2-hour trip.  They provided us each with a tube, put us onto a small bus, and drove us the 3 miles upriver to the put-in location.  This is a small parking area right next to the river on what I presume is public land; it’s apparently used by fishermen and such.  We hopped out of the bus and into the river, and we were on our way!

The water at the put-in spot was pretty slow-moving on this particular day, so there was some plant matter film on the surface, which wasn’t super-nice.  But right after putting in, there’s a small channel on the left side of the river, which we paddled over to.  This channel was really awesome: it was smaller, more fast-moving, and the water just seemed very clean and clear.  It’s also almost entirely shaded, so it feels like a jungle in there.

The channel comes out just below the route 345 bridge, and then you’re back into the main part of the river, and the water is no longer filmy here.  A few minutes after this, there’s a small island on the right, and just across from the tail end of this island, there’s a rope swing on the left riverbank.  We discovered this a few minutes before we actually reached it, when, looking downriver, we noticed a kid go flying through the air and into the water!  It looked totally awesome, so we paddled over and stopped so Maria and I could do a few swings into the river.  It’s nice and deep at this spot -- maybe 8 feet or so -- so it’s the perfect place for a swing.

The rest of the trip was spent just lazily floating down the river, enjoying the sunshine and the outdoors.  As I mentioned in my kayaking trip log, the Schuylkill River water is just so much cleaner than its reputation suggests.  As long as it hasn’t rained much in the previous couple of days, the water is clear enough so that you can see the river bottom.  And the only significant pollution we saw was tires on the bottom: probably a dozen or so during our trip.  So considering how nice the river is, I’m continually surprised by how few people there are out on the water.  It was a nice 95-degree day, but other than the group of maybe 10 teenagers at the ropeswing and on the island, we didn’t see anyone else the whole time.

Our 3-mile float lasted about 2 hours, and we ended at Schuylkill River Outdoors’ take-out point, where they’ve got a big "SRO" sign hanging in a tree, and one of their people standing in the river waiting to help you out of the water.  SRO does a great job of getting you into and out of the water with minimal fuss: they provide the tubes and the ride upriver, then get out of the way so you can enjoy the water.  At the end you hop in your car and leave.  It’s a nice little gig they’ve got, and I hope they continue to do well and get more people back in touch with this beautiful river that’s right here in our backyard.

Here’s a map of the route we took:

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