Schuylkill River Sojourn begins Saturday, watch from the Buttonwood Street Bridge

Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area is inviting the public to watch more than 100 colorful boats of the 23rd Schuylkill River Sojourn arrive in Reading on Saturday, July 31, 2021, at the buttonwood Street bridge.

From 11am to 12pm, paddlers are expected to pass underneath the bridge connecting West Reading and Reading. Use “348 West Buttonwood St, Reading, PA 19601” for GPS then continue west until the bridge.

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About 215 people will embark on an unforgettable water adventure during the in-person 2021 Schuylkill River Sojourn, which begins this Saturday morning from Jim Dietrich Park in Muhlenberg Township.

The Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area organizes the annual event and this year’s theme is “Return to the River.” The nonprofit organization is celebrating the return to a more traditional sojourn after the 2020 event was virtual, as well as the rediscovery of the river. Since the pandemic, people have shown a refreshed appreciation of natural resources such as the Schuylkill River.

“It has been very gratifying to witness our region connecting with the river and the outdoors in increased numbers during this challenging time. We hope people continue to find solace in the river landscape during this year’s sojourn and throughout the year,” said Elaine Paul Schaefer, Schuylkill River Greenways executive director.

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The 23rd Annual Sojourn is a 5-day guided downriver paddling trip, usually from inside a canoe or kayak. This year’s event will begin from Jim Dietrich Park in Muhlenberg Township on Saturday, July 31, and end at the iconic Boathouse Row in Philadelphia on Wednesday, Aug. 4. The paddling journey traditionally begins from Schuylkill Haven during the first full week of June, but the 2021 event is starting later and for a shorter length since adjustments were made because of the pandemic.

This year’s group of paddlers are coming from 12 different states. About 75 people are paddling the full 5-day trip and about 140 people are joining the event for one or more days. For safety reasons, only about 110 to 120 boats are allowed on the water each day, and most days are at or near capacity.

The highlight of the nationally-award winning water excursion is the journey down the scenic river. The community is invited to witness the colorful boats arrive at river towns throughout the sojourn. Schuylkill River Greenways is providing details on how people can view the sojourn’s arrival each day of the event on their website at

People of all experience levels will participate in the sojourn, including several beginners paddling the river for the first time. About 10 youth from the Reading area will be joining the Sojourn on Sunday, Aug. 1, from Allegheny Aqueduct Park to Pottstown Riverfront Park. This is part of a mentorship program which began in 2018. Each youth will be paired with a mentor to help guide them during the kayaking experience.

Several scholarships were awarded this year to help even more people discover the river through the paddling event. For the 5th year, Schuylkill River Greenways is partnering with the Schuylkill Action Network to have a Sojourn Steward paddle the entire trip. The steward will report on the state of the Schuylkill through photos, video, and social media.

The annual sojourn helps connect people to the valuable resource that is the Schuylkill River, so they are motivated to protect it. The river is a critical natural resource and a source of drinking water for more than 1.5 million people.

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