A first hand (not yet comprehensive) guide to paddling the complete length of the Susquehanna river. Or at the very least the Northern branch :-)

By Dominic Cucé

UPDATE:

This update was made on August 13, 2014:


 I started the project in the summer of 2010 and went as far as the dam at Goodyear lake in Colliersville NY. I had planned to do much more during the summer of 2011. But, my wife's breast cancer began to take a serious toll on her health and I spent the summer being her primary caregiver. Sadly, she passed away on Sept. 3rd 2011. We were married for 35 years and knew each other for 5 years before. As one can imagine this was a devastating blow and I thought that perhaps I would not continue the project at all. My wife, Mary Ann was the one who urged me to take on the project when i first mentioned it to her. She knew me well enough to know that I needed to do something "outdoorsy" and although in the summer of 2010 she was already too weak to join me on the river, she supported my effort by dropping me off and picking me up along the way.

 During the summer of 2012 I paddled 2 sections with the help of a friend (Colliersville to Sidney, about 20 miles; Sidney to Ouaquaga about 24 miles), and another section on my own (Ouaquaga to Oakland, PA, about 15 miles) and by the end of the summer of 2012 I completed about 135 miles of the river (from Cooperstown NY to Oakland PA). I had a very pleasant experience when I did the section between Ouaquaga to Oakland. I had to figure out a way to get get to my car after paddling. I would have to either leave the car at the entry point and find a way back at the end of the day. Or, leave my kayak at the entry point, drive down to where I would exit and leave the car there. but of course I would have to find a way to get back to my kayak. I decided to leave the kayak at the entry point and I drove down to Oakland PA (about 16 miles). I walked into the Main St. Cafe, ordered breakfast and I asked the waitress if there was a taxi service that I could call. She told me that the nearest taxi service is in Binghamton NY; pretty far away. I then told her that I needed a ride to Ouaquaga and was willing to pay someone to drive me there. A middle aged man at the end of the bar heard the conversation and said "I'll take you". His name is Kevin Seltzer and he is the owner of the cafe. He asked me to follow him to where I could leave my car and then drove me to my kayak. I offered to pay him, but he refused it. That winter, on my way to my brother's cabin in PA I went out of my way to stop at the Main St. Cafe. I had breakfast and asked if Kevin was there. He wasn't. I left a bottle of Scotch for him. A coworker from Scotland gave it to me and I had it for several years. I hope Kevin and his friends enjoyed it. I hope to stop by again to say hello sometime this year.

 During the summer of 2013 I paddled alone. from Oakland PA to Halstead, 8 miles; and from Halstead to the Sandy beach boat ramp just above Binghampton Ny about 16 miles. I did the sections over a two day period. The first day from Oakland to Halstead I found someone willing to follow me from Oakland to Halstead (where i left my car) and drive me back to Oakland where I had left my kayak. I gave him $50. He thought it was too much, but I insisted. He was very helpful by showing me a good entry point (not an easy task as the banks along the river are very steep in this area). The following day I left my car at the Sandy Beach fishing area, and called a taxi to take me to my kayak at Halstead. The charge was $36.

So far this summer (2014) I paddled a 17 mile section from Binghampton NY to Apalachin NY, just on the PA/NY border. By the way, the river crosses from NY to PA above Oakland PA, but then it turns sharply north (Big Bend) and crosses back into NY. Then turns south again and reenters PA just south of Apalachin. I was joined by my friend Betsy. We drove to Binghampton together and then rented a car at the airport and established a shuttle. in retrospect it would have been cheaper and quicker if we had just called a taxi.

 I am not sure how much of the river I have done so far. I will have to add it up, but I think it is about 150 miles.

 I have been very lazy in updating the website. I have to update the site so as to add the following sections: Ouaquaga to Oakland, PA; Oakland to Binghamton; binghampton to Apalachin. I hope to do so very soon.


ORIGINAL(Written summer of 2010):

 The Susquehanna River is a ribbon of green that stretches for 444miles thru some of the most densely populated area of the east coast. It is the longest river on the east coast, and the longest non-commercial river in the US.
Its headwaters begin on Lake Otsego in Cooperstown NY (home of the National Baseball Hall of fame). In addition to the many miles of natural beauty, the river flows thru some of the most scenic farm land of NY state, and several small NY cities, like Binghamton, before crossing into Pennsylvania where it continues thru much of the same environment; forest, farms, small towns, and a few mid-sized cities ( Wilkes Barre, Harrisburg and a few others) It then enters Maryland and finally empties into the Atlantic Ocean in the Chesapeake Bay.
Having grown up in Pennsylvania, as a young man I canoed on the Susquehanna River on several occasions and always wondered what laid beyond the next bend in the river, and I promised to myself that someday I would canoe the whole length.
To me, the Susquehanna River is the antithesis of a modern interstate highway. The highway brings civilization thru wilderness by connecting cities and towns, while the river brings an uninterrupted slice of nature thru its whole length. I’ve had occasion to cross over the Susquehanna River in some of the most urban areas such as Harrisburg, PA, and in Maryland. I sneak a peek as I speed over the bridges, and I see along either side of the river a ribbon of trees that follows the contour of the river. And I’m always surprised that such scenery can be seen in such crowded areas.
There are actually two beginnings to the Susquehanna river. I mentioned the headwaters at Cooperstown NY. This is considered the beginning of the North Branch. The other branch is known as the West Branch and it's very beginning is not completely clear. Some say it's in Bakerton, PA others say it's in Carrollstown, PA.
The two branches meet up in Northumberland PA and continue together to the Chesapeake bay.
I start my trip at the headwaters of the North Branch In Cooperstown, NY