Home / Blogs / Stories from the Susquehanna: Paddling From the Headwaters to the Chesapeake Bay – Mile 0 to Mile 109
July 5, 2022
Follow along as Alliance staff member, Laura Todd, paddles all 444 miles of the Main Branch of the Susquehanna River with her father, Mark. Starting in June 2022 in Cooperstown, New York, the pair will kayak down the river to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay at Havre de Grace, Maryland. This series will follow their journey over the next year as they paddle the longest river on the East Coast, sharing Susquehanna facts, photos, and reflections from the trip along the way.
Click here to read more about the trip and to see Laura’s gear list.
Cooperstown to Millford
14 Miles – Mile 0 – Mile 14
My kayak, named “Tequila Sunrise”, at Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, New York. The headwaters of the Susquehanna River, and the Chesapeake Bay, is at the southern end of Otsego Lake.
Millford to Emmonds
15 Miles – Mile 14 – Mile 30.5
There are lots of rocky shorelines and islands throughout the river. My dad and I would typically pull our kayaks off onto these beaches for our lunch breaks.
Emmonds to Wells Bridge
14.5 Miles – Mile 30.5 – Mile 45
This is the view of a low-head dam after we portaged our kayaks around it. This dam was unmarked, so I’m glad we had a map that noted it before we got to this section! Beyond the dam was a really fun section – these were the first rapids that we paddled through.
Wells Bridge to Sidney
15 Miles – Mile 45 – Mile 60
Having a GoPro mounted to the front of my kayak allowed me to get some neat action shots along the river. The Susquehanna was quite narrow in this portion which created some more fun rapids. Water levels were quite low the first few days which did lead us to get minorly stuck on the river bed a few times!
Sidney to Harpursville
16.5 Miles – Mile 60 – Mile 70.5
Repping the Alliance out on the Susquehanna!
Today was a tougher paddle – we were going against the wind for most of the day and the river widened in this area. We did see a groundhog on the riverbank though which was neat!
Harpursville to Oakland
18.5 Miles – Mile 76.5 – Mile 95
This day was beautiful and sunny. Water flowed significantly better due to rainfall in the evening a couple of nights prior. Feeling good having put in higher mileage today. Seeing a muskrat family eating and swimming outside of their den was also a highlight.
We crossed into Pennsylvania in the last mile! Next up is the “Great Bend” section, a small area of the river that changes direction and flows north and then east, before returning to a more southern route and flowing back into New York.
Oakland to Geiger Road
14 Miles – Mile 95 – 109
Our final day was in one of the most remote sections so far. Game lands in Pennsylvania had some beautiful mountains and forest land right along the Susquehanna. We started off by portaging around the breached Oakland dam. The railroad bridge pictured was where we put our kayaks back in the river beyond the dam.
We crossed back into New York on this leg! I’m really pleased with the progress we made on our first trip. Overall it went very smoothly with only a few minor hiccups. I’m looking forward to getting back out there and putting in some more miles on the Susquehanna and my kayak soon! This region is a gorgeous part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. We met many kind and generous people who lent their well wishes, their homes, and their assistance to us along the way. I’d be remiss not to also thank our support crew – my mother, Tammy Todd, and my boyfriend, Kula Companion for all of their help on our trip!
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