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Tour of the Conejohela Flats

Water Safety

Remember: safe use of rivers and any designated trails, at any time, is your responsibility! Water trail maps are for informational and interpretive purposes only and are not meant for navigational purposes, nor do they take into account level of skills or ability required to navigate rivers. The National Park Service, Chesapeake Conservancy and/or the individual trail associations assume no responsibility or liability for any injury or loss resulting directly or indirectly from the use of water trails, maps or other printed or web-based materials. Learn more about water safety.

Image Credit: Henry T. McLin / Flickr

Paddling Notes

Navigational Hazards

Paddling the Flats is most suitable for canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards because of the shallow water conditions and chance of becoming stuck. -Mud flats, sand bars, and channels are constantly forming and reforming, there is no set route, making each paddle trip to the Flats a new experience.

Weather is unpredictable and conditions can change quickly and unexpectedly. Always check the weather and water levels. Contact Shank’s Mare Outfitters or check for conditions. -Leave No Trace. Respect nature and wildlife. Enjoy from a distance.

Be aware and respectful of waterfowl hunters. Do not disturb duck blinds.

Pack proper equipment and clothing depending on the season and conditions. Take along plenty of water, binoculars, camera, and bird guide.

Paddlers must adhere to life jacket, sound-producing device, and registration/launch permit requirements. Use light source during dark hours.

For more detailed information on paddling regulations and safety see the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) safety webpage or the Pennsylvania Boating Handbook For PFBC launch permit information and requirements use

Trail History

The term Conejohela is derived from an Native American word meaning “kettle on a long, upright pole.” Susquehannocks were the last known native group to live in this area along the river near present-day Washington Boro. The many islands and rocks were used for hunting and fishing. Dugout canoes were used for travel and the river was a major trade route.

Where the Conejohela Flats are located today was once a major river crossing known as the Blue Rock Ford and later became a crossing for the Blue Rock Ferry. This area and the islands were farmed before and after the construction of Safe Harbor Dam. The Conejohela Flats were and still are a popular and abundant waterfowl hunting area. Historically, the catching of migrating shad was a profitable business for fishermen, who used the islands, sand bars, and rock outcroppings on the river as shad fisheries and shad batteries.

The Susquehanna Hard Coal Navy was a fleet of boats and barges that vacuumed tons of coal silt from the river bottom that had washed downriver from the coal fields in northeastern Pennsylvania. Coal silt was used as a fuel source. The navy ceased to exist after the mid-1950s, but the destructive process of dredging for coal silt continued on Lake Clarke until 1973.