Schuylkill Canal Park/Lock 60
GOOD FOR: Ages 9-12

Source:Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Address:400 Towpath Road, Mont Clare, PA
Hours:8 A.M. to sunset daily
Fee: Free
Bathrooms: Portable toilets near parking areas
Water/Snacks: None
Map: (click on Recreation at the Canal)

A historical canal is now an inviting spot for easy paddling, walking, and fishing, with connections to a tree-shaded stretch of the Schuylkill River.

Schuylkill Canal Park/Lock 60
Photo by: Susan Charkes

Schuylkill Canal Park parallels the Schuylkill River for 2.5 miles from Mont Clare to Port Providence. Built in the early nineteenth century, the canal originally ran for 108 miles. Mule-drawn barges transported coal from Port Carbon to Philadelphia, passing through 92 locks along the way. Today, the Lock 60 section is a quietwater-centered recreation area, managed by the Schuylkill Canal Association.

The canal’s steady, slow current makes it easy for families to paddle either up- or downstream. Boat launches are at both ends. You cannot rent boats in the park, but a commercial outfitter is at Fitzwater Station. Along the banks, you’ll frequently encounter turtles and ducks unfazed by passing boats. More-experienced paddlers can portage to the Schuylkill River at Lock 60 and Port Providence (under the high-tension wires that cross the river) for a 5-mile loop.

The Schuylkill River Trail (SRT), a long-distance multiuse trail mostly used by bikes, can also be accessed here, using the paved towpath that extends to the PA 29 bridge.

A fishing dock is located right along the canal at Lock 60. A pleasant, flat path, good for walking, also follows along the canal. More-challenging hiking trails go up into the ravines surrounding the park and over to the Upper Schuylkill Valley Park, which features a Wildlife Center where kids can enjoy up-close experiences with native animals and raptors.

Remember: The historical Locktender's House at Lock 60 is open to visitors on the third Sunday of every month; here kids can learn about canal history through exhibits and from helpful staff. The lock itself has been restored to working condition and is opened at least once a year for recreational paddlers to experience the up-and-down ride.

Plan B:

To drive to Upper Schuylkill Valley Park, take PA 29 north and turn left onto Black Rock Road, then left onto PA 113 south. You can continue over the river on PA 113 to Black Rock Sanctuary, a 119-acre Chester County park where a 0.75-mile trail descends to the river at Black Rock dam.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Head south on PA 29 to Phoenixville to find restaurants.


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