Kayaking or canoeing on the tidal Schuylkill is a serene and active way to enjoy Philadelphia. Head upriver towards the Fairmount Dam to enjoy spectacular views of the Art Museum, Fairmount Water Works and the city skyline. Head downriver towards Bartram’s Garden to immerse yourself in greenery and wildlife – tree cover increases significantly below the South Street Bridge, you may not believe that you’re still in the city!

Kayakers on the Schuylkill with the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the background

Getting on the water at Schuylkill Banks

Individuals are welcome to use the Walnut Street Dock, Walnut Street tidal basin and Bartram’s Garden Dock to put in their kayaks and canoes, as long as it does not interfere with organized events on Schuylkill Banks. Since individuals are not allowed to drive in to Schuylkill Banks, you must either carry your boat or use a small wheeled trolley to get your kayak or canoe to the launch site. If SRDC staff is on the trail by Walnut Street, we would be happy to unlock the gate to the Walnut Street Dock for your use. Please make advance arrangements with Bartram’s Garden Staff if you plan to use the Bartram’s Garden Dock.

Helpful resources for kayaking on the Schuylkill

Want to time your trip with the tides? Check out the mobilegeographics website. Curious about river conditions? Visit the Philly River Cast website.

As far as SRDC is aware, unpowered boats such as kayaks and canoes do not need to be registered with the PA Fish and Boat Commission for use in the tidal Schuylkill River. For your own safety, always wear a personal floatation device when kayaking or canoeing in the Schuylkill. To learn more about boat registration and other regulations, visit the PA Fish and Boat Commission website.

Interested in an introduction to paddling with experienced guides? Try one of our regularly scheduled kayak tours during the summer and fall.

Looking for more local paddling resources and opportunities? The Philadelphia Canoe Club, located a few miles north of Schuylkill Banks in Manayunk, has a full calendar of events for paddlers of all skill levels.