Grab your fedora and pack your paddle intrepid explorers because the Conestoga River Club and Uncharted Lancaster have partnered to create the Slackwater Navigation Adventure for Lancaster Conservancy‘s annual Water Week festivities.
How does this adventure work?
You will need a kayak and other related supplies as you explore the Conestoga River along some of the old Conestoga Navigation Company canal route between Lock 5 (Rock Hill) and Lock 9 (Safe Harbor). While on this paddling adventure, complete all the challenges to reveal the location of the hidden treasure—a reproduction share of the Conestoga Navigation Company plus bonus swag like Water Week wooden nickels and Uncharted Lancaster bumper stickers and pins for early completers!
Slackwater Navigation Adventure
Length: 3.5 miles on the Conestoga River between Rock Hill to Safe Harbor.
Time: This adventure will likely take 70 to 100 minutes to complete depending on your paddling style and how much onshore exploring you do. Keep in mind that these are estimates for the average paddler under normal conditions. They vary depending on how aggressive you paddle, water depth, and general skill level.
What to expect: This is a great section of the Conestoga for beginners. However, you may have to exit the boat and walk it through shallow areas during low water times.
What to bring: A life jacket, a whistle, plenty of water, sunscreen, snacks, appropriate footwear for the times you are not inside your kayak, an internet-connected device with GPS, paper, and writing utensil.
Pro Tip: Unless you are calling a Uber, this adventure requires two vehicles. One at your launch point and the other at your destination. Be sure to have the keys to both with you.
Begin at Rock Hill
This paddling adventure begins at Rock Hill. It has ample parking with easy water access below the rapids. Keep in mind that Rock Hill is under Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission jurisdiction. As such, you will need a launch permit for your kayak, life jackets, and whistles when accessing this area. There are currently no restrooms available at this location. Here are the GPS coordinates for Rock Hill (39.961694, -76.363889).
End at Safe Harbor
The expedition ends 3.5 miles downstream at Safe Harbor Park/Powerhouse Road where Lock 9 was once located. Here are the GPS coordinates (39.929000, -76.383667).
Learn More about the Conestoga
The Conestoga Navigation Company’s slackwater canal was a bold Industrial Age construction project with the simple goal of transforming landlocked Lancaster into a bustling port city. Read more about the Conestoga Navigation Company here (link coming soon).
Learn more about the 62-mile long Conestoga River, including its mouth at Safe Harbor and disputed headwaters location inside State Game Lands 52. If you are curious how the river has changed in the past 50 years, check out the 1976 Canoeing Guide to the Historic Conestoga. The 33-page booklet includes five detailed maps of the river and beautiful sketches.
Numerous bridges, both modern and covered, cross the Conestoga. Enjoy Benton Webber’s Bridge Club series that examines several of the river’s most iconic.
Here’s a fascinating video examing the Conestoga River through Lancaster County’s history.
What is Water Week?
Leading the way to clean water by protecting over 6,000 acres of wild lands, the Lancaster Conservancy created Lancaster Water Week to connect us all to clean water. Lancaster’s 1,400 miles of streams and rivers drive local economic and agricultural growth. They are a place of recreation and the source of our drinking water. Water Connects Us All! Click here to learn more about Lancaster Conservancy’s Water Week, and be sure to sign the Water Week Pledge.
About the Organizations
The founding goal of the Conestoga River Club was access to the river. It did not take long before we became invested in more than that. The dynamic history, culture, community, and conservation needs of the river became our passion. As the State recognized water trail stewards of the Conestoga our purpose is to establish a legacy of responsible recreation and preservation of the watershed we love.
The Lancaster Conservancy was founded in 1969 by anglers, hunters, farmers, and naturalists who witnessed the rapid development and loss of lands. Today the Lancaster Conservancy manages 47 nature preserves and protects over 7,000 acres in Lancaster and York Counties. The nature preserves are managed to create habitat for animals, to protect plants and trees, and to provide public access to nature 365 days of the year from sunrise to sunset.
Uncharted Lancaster is a local history website that creates unique self-guided adventures to encourage people to get outside and explore the rich history and beauty of Lancaster County and surrounding areas.
Special thanks to LancasterHistory for providing a high-quality digital scan of an original Conestoga Navigation Company stock certificate dated September 6, 1825, and signed by Edward Coleman.
Special thanks to Don Kautz and Benton Webber for their in-depth research, information, and photographs.
Special thanks to Todd Roy and Terilyn Le Duc for their kayaking knowledge and photographs.