Since August 1980, the Susquehanna Riverlands Environmental Preserve has been providing the people of north central Pennsylvania with quality recreation on its 1,200 acres on both the east and west banks of the Susquehanna River. The Riverlands is jointly owned by Talen Energy Corporation and Allegheny Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Susquehanna is a good steward of the resources that have been entrusted to us. That’s why Susquehanna uses a multiple-purpose land management approach at the Riverlands. Land is managed in harmony with the environment, whether it’s used for farmland, wood products, or wildlife habitat.
Hours of Operation
Susquehanna Riverlands is open daily with the exception of Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
Gates open at 8 a.m. Closing time will vary depending on time of year and will be posted on signs throughout the park.
During winter months, and based on environmental conditions (weather, etc.), access to the Riverlands may be limited. For example, in winter months, visitors are asked to enter via the South gate. Maintenance activities are also limited during these times.
Rules and Regulations
- No alcoholic beverages are permitted anywhere on Talen Energy property.
- No swimming or wading in the lake.
- Pets must be kept on a leash and are NOT permitted in the Wetlands Nature Area.
- No hunting, trapping or shooting is permitted in the Recreation Area or Wetlands Nature Area.
- No ATVs, snowmobiles or other off-road motorized vehicles are permitted on Riverlands property. Motorcycles must be kept on roads and other paved areas.
- Horses are permitted on the east side of the river only.
- All Pennsylvania hunting, fishing and boating laws apply and are enforced by the appropriate state agencies.
- No overnight camping.
- Fires are permitted in grills only.
Picnic pavilions at the Susquehanna Riverlands are available for group, on a first come basis, for outings year round. The picnic area is equipped with charcoal grills, electrical outlets, recycling cans, playground equipment and seasonal restrooms.
Weddings and alcoholic beverages are not permitted. Pets must be on a leash at all times. Thank you for your cooperation.
Hiking and Recreation Area
A 400-acre recreation area on the west side of the Susquehanna River is open for daily use. The recreation area offers picnic pavilions and facilities, tables, grills, playgrounds, a volleyball court and a ball field.
Explore plant and animal habitats along the Riverside Trail. The “Planet Walk” invites visitors to journey from the sun to Pluto by following a series of interpretive markers that depict a trip of nearly 4 billion miles.
On the 30-acre Lake Took-A-While, you can boat (no gasoline engines) or fish for catfish, bass, panfish and trout when in season. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stocks the lake with trout. Swimming and ice fishing are prohibited. The 1.5-mile trail around the North Branch Canal is a great place for walking, biking and cross-country skiing.
Get a close look at the area’s wildlife and explore the Susquehanna wetlands.
Most Riverlands facilities are accessible to people with physical limitations.
Recreation Area Map
Click on any camera on the map to see points of interest.
Recreation Area Trails
Towpath – 1.5 miles, 45 min
Riverside – 1.5 miles, 45 min
Take a stroll on this celestial-bound path and cover a symbolic journey of nearly 4 billion miles in less than a mile.
The Riverlands’ “Planet Walk” invites visitors to take a journey from the sun to Pluto by following a series of laminated interpretive markers on sturdy yellow pine posts that parallel the towpath of the North Branch Canal.
They’re spaced to show the size and distance between each planet. Along your journey, you’ll learn about the size of our solar system and the vastness of space.
Our 30-acre lake and a restored section on the North Branch Canal provide fishing opportunities almost all year round. Each year, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stocks Lake Took-A-While. Good bass fishing can be found in the narrow waters of the canal. The lake and canal are closed to ice fishing.
Please review the graphic below to help take proper steps to avoid the spread of zebra mussels at Lake Took-A-While. To learn more about Zebra Mussels select the Zebra Mussel Info Sheet link that follows. Zebra Mussel Info Sheet
North Branch Canal
The North Branch Canal stretched from Pittston to Northumberland, a distance of 72.5 miles. In use during the period from 1830 to 1900, the canal was 40 feet wide at the top and 4-6 feet deep.
The canal boats were 80 feet long and could haul up to 120 tons of cargo, which might include coal, flour, grain or lumber. These were drawn by teams of mules which traveled the tow paths that form this portion of our trail.
Speed limit for the freighters was 3-5 miles per hour. Greater speeds caused severe erosion to the canal banks.
Wetlands Nature Area
The Wetlands Nature Area is a refuge for a wide variety of wildlife and plant species. The area not only provides a protected environment for a host of animals and plants, but also gives visitors a chance to observe them in their natural surroundings. The trails wind through field and forest and along the west bank of the Susquehanna River, providing opportunities for nature study, wildlife observation, photography and other aspects of environmental education.
The Wetlands Nature Area was designated an “Urban Wildlife Sanctuary” in 1988. Hunting, fishing, trapping and pets are prohibited here.
Wood Duck – 0.7 miles, 1 hour; Wood Duck (with Spice Bush shortcut) – 0.3 miles, 30 minutes
Beaver – 0.5 miles, 45 minutes
There is something majestic and powerful about a flowing river.
Susquehanna is a Lenape word. It has many translations, including “mud river,” “river that flows to the south,” “long, crooked river,” “river that rubs against its sides,” and “river of the winding shore.” You may pick the one you like best.
With its source in New York State and its mouth at the Chesapeake Bay, the Susquehanna runs a 400-mile course. The river basin is the largest on the Atlantic seaboard.
There are 50 different species of fish in the Susquehanna, with the spotfin shiner being the most numerous. Other species include white suckers, carp, large- and small-mouthed bass, muskellunge, walleye and catfish.
Great Warriors’ Path
Although the name of this trail suggests otherwise, it was the path taken by members of the Iroquois Nation to “brighten the chain of friendship” with their brothers to the south.
At Tioga, Pa., this trail was fed by other Native American “highways” from all parts of the Iroquois’ homeland. It passed Indian settlements in Mocanaqua and Nescopeck as well as their fields and random camp sites.
The Great Warriors’ Path passed by the towns of Berwick, Bloomsburg and Danville, finally ending in the Shamokin area where there were a number of offshoots.
Red Maple Swamp
In this region, several types of wetlands exist — including red maple swamps, marshes, wet meadows, vernal ponds and riverside forest. Each type has plants and animals specific to that area and dependent on the amount of water available.
The red maple swamp is named for, and dominated by, this well-known hardwood. It is the predominant type of forested wetland in the Northeast. In addition to the trees, woody shrubs also are evident. These include spicebush, winterberry holly, arrowwood and dogwood bushes. In the ground layer you will find skunk cabbage, jewelweed, jack-in-the-pulpit and various ferns.
Freshwater marshes are a common sight throughout North America, making up the greatest percentage of all wetlands. These marshes are typified by a mixture of emergent, submergent and floating plants, interspersed with areas of open water. Water in marshes can range from a few inches to several feet in depth depending on the time of year.
Unlike the red maple swamp found elsewhere in the Riverlands, which is predominated by woody plants, this marsh area is made up of soft-stemmed, herbaceous plants or of emergents, like cattails, sedges, rushes, grasses and arrowhead. These plants provide food and shelter for a variety of life, including muskrats, Virginia rails, red-winged blackbirds, soras and many waterfowl.
Coal Dredging Ruins
Coal dredging was a lucrative business in this area at one time. Inefficient coal breakers upriver allowed coal to be washed into the Susquehanna River. This coal provided a readily available source of fuel for both homes and power plants.
Dredging machinery was used to recover the coal. As coal breakers became more efficient, the size and amount of coal decreased until it was no longer economically worthwhile to continue this industry locally. Operations ceased here in the late 1930s.
Up until the early part of the 20th century, V-shaped stone walls or weirs in the Susquehanna, which pointed down river, were used to catch eels. Eels moving toward the sea on their migration would enter the two-foot-high walls and be directed to the point of the “V” where they would be trapped. Eel suppers were once popular at local churches and fire halls. The walls are now only visible when the water level is low, usually in the late summer and early fall.
Nearly everyone recognizes the cattail. The tall, flat leaves and brown fur-like growth on the flower stalk are unmistakable.
If you are here in early summer, the flower stalks will have two sections. The uppermost, male portion is covered with short “hairs” and contains the pollen. Under this is the velvety-green female portion.
After the male parts have given off their pollen, they fall, leaving only the female section, which turns brown and produces seeds — becoming the “cattail.”
If you are here in winter and see seed heads that have not been blown away, chances are a cattail moth larva has moved in, binding the seed together with its silk, providing itself with a cozy winter home.
Cattails are used for food or cover by muskrats, red-winged blackbirds, sora rails, swamp sparrows and many other animals.
This small man-made pond serves as a nesting area for Canada geese and as a stopover for other types of migrating waterfowl.
Other types of wildlife attracted to this area include herons, swallows, muskrats, turtles, frogs and kingfishers for at least part of the year.
If you approach the pond slowly and quietly, your chances are good that you will see many of these creatures. If at first all seems quiet, remain still and within about five minutes things should start to come alive.