Islands provide a unique perspective on fall foliage in many spots across Pennsylvania. Camping on those islands at the peak of fall foliage immerses leaf-peepers into the scenery, taking the whole experience to the next level amid hard-to-find seclusion.
The Susquehanna River is richer in public islands that most people realize, although the Susquehanna River Trail Association has been working for many years to build greater awareness.
For example, the middle section of the water trail from Sunbury to Harrisburg features 23 islands with primitive campsites open to public use. Most have a beach area for docking boat, canoe or kayak and campsites with fire rings.
While on the river, don’t forget to keep an eye out for the Susquehanna wildlife. Blue herons, deer, racoons, eagles, and beavers are commonly sighted along the riverbanks and on the islands.
The islands are maintained by volunteers from the Susquehanna River Trail Association. Their work has been restricted during the coronavirus pandemic, making it even more essential for every island-user to practice the principles of leave no trace:
Dispose of waste, including human waste, properly. Pack out everything you take in.
Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
Leave what you find, without damaging it.
Minimize the impact of any campfire you build.
Respect the wild things.
Maps of the different sections of the trail are available through trail-sponsoring organizations. A guide to those organization is available through the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
For a less primitive island-camping, Susquehanna Outdoor Adventures in Bloomsburg offers canoe- or kayak-accessible sites on an island that also offers more than 10 miles of hiking trails, 2 treehouses, and areas for kayaking, fishing, and hunting. Guests can kayak or canoe on their own or let the Outdoor Adventure team ferry them and their gear to the island.
On the Delaware River, Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort offers glamping sites on a private island. Each site includes a camp attendant, fire pit, hammocks, and sturdy tents with beds, comforters and bedside tables.
The Allegheny River Island Wilderness Area near Tionesta in northwestern Pennsylvania features seven islands totaling 368 acres designated as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System.
While not exactly island camping, several spots in Pennsylvania provide lakeside camping accessible only from the water.
On Tionesta Lake in northwestern Pennsylvania, the U.S Forest Service maintains 21 shoreline campsites accessible only by boat.
With more than 30 campsites, Hooks Brook Campground offers four reservoir campgrounds within Allegheny National Forest. Campers must bring their own potable water supplies. Reservations are not required, and guests are accepted on a first come, first serve basis.
Accessible by boat, Pine Grove Campground is small, rustic campground located on the east bank of the Allegheny Reservoir just north of Kinzua Wolf Run Marina. Facilities at the 13 campsites include tables and fire rings. Campers must bring their own potable water supplies.
Contact Marcus Schneck at [email protected]
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