Sears Run

River of the month #100

author: Pat Reilly

Here’s another local run that amounts to little more than a drainage ditch. Actually the final two miles of Sears Run that I paddled this winter after the big rains of early March, are, in fact, rather wide for a stream of no more that 10 square miles of drainage. Flowing through the suburbs with the final mile in a park-like little ravine, this creek mostly lacks the usual micro-stream hazards like strainers (only carried one), low bridges, culverts, fences, tight turns, overhanging vegetation and irate land owners.

Looking for a longer trip I scouted tributaries from bridges on Wertzville Road and Lambs Gap Road. At both spots these tribs were just too darn small. If you’re familiar with these roads you’ll now know that the creek lies in Hamden Township west of Enola and north of Camp Hill, its headwaters rolling off of Blue Mountain. I selected Good Hope Mill Road below the confluence of the tributaries where it crosses 80 feet above the creek atop a huge dike. The creek flows through this manmade mountain of dirt via a 100-yard long tunnel. Likewise, just 1/8 mile downstream, Sears Run goes through 2 more tunnels under the southbound and then the northbound lanes of Interstate 81. Too big to call culverts, these passageways are not really bridges either, with thousands of tons of fill towering above them. It was these tunnels that first attracted me to this creek. I had previously scouted a good put in at a lonely road just downstream from I81. But no, I had to stumble down the steep embankment from Good Hope Mill Road past ‘No Trespassing’ signs just to experience these overgrown drainage pipes.

The initial run to I81 was narrow, fast and had some overhanging brush. And with a hurried launch, lest the person that posted the signs show up, it prompted the release of a dab of adrenaline. But the tunnels are wide with no obstructions. And afterward the creek stayed wide with gentle gradient and constant little riffles. The suburbs are all around but only occasionally visible from the creek. The final section is through a little wooded gorge with a parallel bike path on river right. Sears Run ends at the big Conodoguinet Creek beside the sewage treatment plant off of Sears Run Road.

My total 2-mile trip down Sears Run was 30 minutes, followed by a 12-mile cruise down the familiar Cono to the Susquehanna and my home in Wormleysburg. So if it only lasted ½ hour, why bother with Sears Run? Well, I thought it was pretty neat that after 19 years of exploratory boating, there is still virgin water to be found within paddling distance of home!

Pat Reilly

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