The North Branch of the Susquehanna River is the state’s 2023 River of the Year.
“We … got the designation by a wide margin. So that really says a lot about the support that the water trail gets,” said Cain Chamberlin, executive director of the Endless Mountains Heritage Region, which nominated the North Branch for the honor.
The public voted online for River of the Year, a contest collaboration between the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Organization for Waterways and Rivers. The 182-mile branch of the river flows through eight Northeast Pennsylvania counties — from the New York state line to Sunbury at the confluence with the Susquehanna River West Branch.
A total of 11,438 votes were cast for four waterways. The Susquehanna River North Branch received 4,098.
The waterway beat out the Perkiomen Creek, a 37.7-mile-long tributary of the Schuylkill River in Berks, Lehigh and Montgomery counties; the Conestoga River, a 61.6-mile-long tributary of the Susquehanna River flowing through Lancaster County; and the Schuylkill River, which flows for 135 miles from Pottsville to Philadelphia, for the honor.
Chamberlain said the north branch last received the honor in 2016. But this year is special. The heritage area is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Endless Mountains is one of 12 heritage areas across the Commonwealth. They work with the Susquehanna Greenways Partnership, who manages the lower north branch and west branch of the river.
Endless Mountains will receive a $10,000 Leadership Grant to help fund River of the Year activities. This summer, the organization will host a 25th-anniversary sojourn down the river from June 2 to 10. They also plan to host river cleanups and other events throughout the year.
“We also have a lot of nice paddling events already planned throughout the summer and fall,” Chamberlin said. “We’re just really excited to get the designation in conjunction with that.”
For more details, visit emheritage.org.