Floating down Swatara Creek, the sun warming your face, the only sounds are that of water lapping with each stroke of your kayak paddle and the occasional trill of a great blue heron before it alights from its perch on the wooded banks and glides ahead of you. It’s hard to believe that you’re just minutes from a major tourist area. A river trip with Cocoa Kayak Rentals of Hershey was the perfect way to relax following several days of being on the go at numerous tourist attractions in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Cocoa Kayak is a fully-mobile business, which saves time because you meet where your trip will end. So afterward, you get out of the water and can go directly to your vehicle and be on your way. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
Cocoa Kayak offers nine different trips, from 5 miles (2 hours) to 10 miles (4 hours), with various launch and end points. We took the Boathouse Run, the most convenient to reach from Hershey attractions. It took us less than five minutes from the road that runs outside Hersheypark to reach Boathouse Park, where we met owners Ben and Deb Miller and where our trip would end. From there we piled into the Cocoa Kayak vehicle and rode five miles upstream to the launch point.
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Ben equipped Skip and me with life jackets, pulled down appropriate kayaks from his trailer to fit our sizes and even loaned us waterproof pouches for our phones, keys and such. After Ben gave us a short safety and skill instruction and we signed the required waivers, he helped us into our kayaks, gave us our paddles and pushed us off. We paddled around a bit to get reacquainted with kayaking while Ben and Deb got into their kayaks, as they were joining us on the trip. Skip and I had both kayaked short distances before, so it took only a couple of minutes to get comfortable.
Swatara Creek (nicknamed the “Swattie”) is ideal for the beginner kayaker because it’s a Class 1 body of water. That means smooth, calm waters. It may run a little faster around rocks here and there, but it’s easy handling. The depth is usually shallow, too. In fact, with the lack of rain for several days before our visit, the water was only several inches deep in a few places. Deb paddled ahead of the rest of us to find deeper water so we wouldn’t get stuck on the creek bottom or hit rocks. I had a couple of almost uh-oh experiences but nothing that a little push off a rock didn’t take care of.
Mostly, though, it was smooth kayaking, enjoying the nature that surrounded us. Ben and Deb said they have seen bald eagles, great blue heron, deer, foxes, turtles and other wildlife in and along the creek. On our late afternoon trip, we didn’t see any mammals, but we did see four great blue heron. Deb said they will often play, flying ahead and landing until you catch up, and then fly a little ahead again. I wished I had a camera with me in the kayak but didn’t want to take the chance of it falling into the water, and my smart phone was sealed safely inside the waterproof pouch. (Note to self: Buy a waterproof GoPro camera.)
At about the halfway point, we stopped along a small beach area for a light refreshment and to rest a bit. Ben said he often recommends this spot for kayakers to stop for a picnic. We finally had a chance to snap a couple of photos before continuing on the second half of our trip.
If you take a Cocoa Kayak trip
Cocoa Kayak Rentals of Hershey offers tours for individual or groups from mid-April through mid-November, weather permitting. They offer six sizes of kayaks, including tandem. Visit the web site for information on all nine trip options, rates and other details.
Accommodations: During our visit to Hershey, we stayed at the Red Umbrella Bed and Breakfast in nearby Grantville, Pennsylvania. Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor
Disclosures: My visit to Hersey was hosted by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg. Our kayak trip was complimentary; however, any opinions express in this article are my own.
This article contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book a room through these links.
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