Kayaking In Nj

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Have you ever considered going kayaking in NJ?

What makes New Jersey a good place to go kayaking, anyway?

Do many people enjoy kayaking in New Jersey, or is it a little more off the beaten path?

New Jersey is somewhat lesser-known in the world of kayaking, but it nevertheless provides plenty of excellent opportunities for paddlers in New England to enjoy nature for a little while.

For much of the year, the weather is mild in New Jersey, and the bodies of water offer calm and comfortable paddling experiences the whole family can usually enjoy together.

Check out our list of top New Jersey kayaking destinations below to help you learn more!

Option #1. Lake Lenape

Difficulty: Easy
Price: $
Location: Hamilton Township
Recommended Duration: Half-Day

Beginners will enjoy the gentle paddling and opportunity to learn the basics on Lake Lenape. This lake is calm, so anyone looking for a simple kayak outing will find just what they need on this body of water.

Pros

  • The lake is usually not over-crowded.
  • There are clean bathrooms available at the lake.

Cons

  • It can be very windy at this lake and make the waves a bit harsh.
  • There may be some boat waves on this lake too.

Option #2. Hackensack River

Difficulty: Intermediate
Price: $$
Location: Secaucus
Recommended Duration: Half-Day

Join a moonlight paddle or take a traditional trip down the Hackensack River to explore New Jersey at its heart. With two put-in options, it’s easy to access this body of water using various types of watercraft available for rent at both of these locations.

Pros

  • Rentals are operated by Hackensack Riverkeeper, a group which works off of donations and strives to keep the water clean and protected.
  • Kayaks are available for rent in four-hour increments on this river.

Cons

  • No one under 16 will be allowed to paddle on this river.
  • There is no solo paddling available on this river.

Option #3. Rancocas Creek

Difficulty: Easy
Price: $$
Location: Burlington County
Recommended Duration: Half-Day

Rancocas Creek provides a unique look at the local environment and surrounding nature. Some guided tours even focus on this, and work to educate paddlers about the ecosystem that makes up this river and its surroundings.

Pros

  • This creek offers a great getaway that isn’t too far from city living.
  • The trail is easy for beginners but interesting for experienced paddlers.

Cons

  • Since the trail runs through towns, it can be less scenic than some others.
  • Guided trips are only available with reservations.

Option #4. Splitrock Reservoir

Difficulty: Easy
Price: $
Location: Rockaway
Recommended Duration: Half-Day

This body of water is not very well-known and, as such, is quiet for paddlers and anglers. This choice features woodsy shores and plenty of places to take a break.

Pros

  • You don’t have to run into other paddlers on the water here if you don’t want to.
  • It’s easy to put-in on this body of water.

Cons

  • Trash is often dumped here; paddlers try to do their part by taking trash out of the water when they come across it.
  • You may hear some road noise from this reservoir.

Option #5. Manasquan Reservoir

Difficulty: Easy
Price: $
Location: Monmouth County
Recommended Duration: Half-Day or shorter

Enjoy calm, placid waters on the Manasquan Reservoir. This body of water has many put-in points and allows kayakers to enjoy the trip on their own time.

Pros

  • It is possible to see bald eagles on this trip.
  • Even in windy conditions, the water is easy to navigate.

Cons

  • There are no boat rentals available here.
  • Parts of the area may be off-limits due to the bald eagle presence.

Option #6. Barnegat Bay

Difficulty: Difficult
Price: $$$$
Location: Ocean County
Recommended Duration: Half-Day

Give yourself a challenge by kayaking on Barnegat Bay! This bay is windy and almost always features waves as well as boats to navigate and maneuver around, too. Although it may not look it from a distance, the trip is a difficult one and you will need to rest partway through.

Pros

  • This option is one of the best kayaking challenges for experienced kayakers in New Jersey.
  • There are rentals available, but kayakers can bring their own kayak if it’s 13 feet long or longer.

Cons

  • The trip may be very crowded and even more difficult at certain times of the year.
  • Some parts of the bay are not open to kayaking at some times of the year.

Option #7. Delaware River

Difficulty: Easy to Intermediate
Price: $$$
Location: Milford
Recommended Duration: Half-Day or shorter

The Delaware River features many portions that are perfect for beginners and younger members of the family to enjoy. The paddle is a gentle float that is just as popular for tubers as it is for kayakers, and it is a popular destination for many.

Pros

  • With seven class I rapids on the lower river, beginners can have a challenge without too much risk.
  • The upper portion of the river is even gentler for those looking for a simple float.

Cons

  • Some portions of the river require kids to be at least 12 years old, although others do not.
  • The river can become very crowded.

Option #8. Cape May

Difficulty: Easy
Price: $$
Location: Cape May
Recommended Duration: Half-Day

Beginners and pros alike will enjoy paddling around Cape May and seeing all the sights! There are many different types of scenery in the Cape May area, including marshes, town paddling and more.

Pros

  • It’s easy to find a guided tour just about any time of the year on Cape May, and there are many different trip lengths available as well.
  • At certain times of the year, the Cape offers sunset and moonlight kayaking tours as well.

Cons

  • This offer is a popular destination, so reservations are required and the Cape may get busy.
  • Accommodations in the area may be more expensive than they are elsewhere.

Option #9. Wawayanda

Difficulty: Easy
Price: $$$
Location: Sussex County
Recommended Duration: Half-Day

Located in the northern part of the state, Wawayanda provides incredible views of fall foliage and changing leaves at the right time of the year. The water is very still, making it easy to stop and take pictures any time you like along the way.

Pros

  • There are many guided tour options available in the Wawayanda area.
  • If you prefer to look for local wildlife as you paddle, you can easily spot some on this easy and gentle trip.

Cons

  • During the fall, this trip can become crowded.
  • The water may be very cold during winter and could be too cold to kayak for some paddlers.

Option #10. Cranberry Lake

Difficulty: Easy to Intermediate
Price: $$$
Location: Sussex County
Recommended Duration: Half-Day

The beginning of this lake is surrounded by houses and offers a town paddling experience. However, the further you go, the more rustic it becomes, making the whole lake an experience all its own.

Pros

  • The river is beautiful and easy to navigate during the fall.
  • It is possible to find small caves and mini islands along this river.

Cons

  • During summer, the rustic part of the lake may be too overgrown to paddle.
  • Water levels may be too high to explore the whole river during summer.

Option #11. Passaic River

Difficulty: Easy
Price: $$$
Location: Morris County
Recommended Duration: Half-Day

This river is popular with locals but lesser-known by tourists, so the crowds don’t get too intense most of the time. This choice offers views of beautiful plants and scenery, so during the fall, it’s especially nice to paddle.

Pros

  • Many types of watercraft are available for rent on this river.
  • Guided and self-guided options are available here.

Cons

  • The river may not be available during the winter.
  • Guided tours may be limited.

Option #12. Pine Barrens

Difficulty: Easy to Intermediate
Price: $$$
Location: Pemberton Township
Recommended Duration: Half-Day or Full-Day

Pine Barrens offers many unique opportunities to explore beautiful natural surroundings and see wildlife and plants you can’t see anywhere else in the state. Some of this river is more challenging than other parts, but it is all equally impressive.

Pros

  • There are self-guided and guided tours available here.
  • Portions of the river are kid-friendly.

Cons

  • It can sometimes be difficult to find a guided trip for this area.
  • Rentals in Pine Barrens may cost more than in other areas.

Option #13. D&R Canal

Difficulty: Easy
Price: $
Location: New Brunswick
Recommended Duration: Half-Day or shorter

Take a trip around the D&R Canal to explore a less populated kayaking path in New Jersey. This canal is easy for beginners and offers a very gentle floating experience for anyone who wants it.

Pros

  • This canal is lesser-known and may not be too crowded.
  • The canal is mostly shady, with some spots in the sun.

Cons

  • Depending on the time of the year, water levels may be too low to paddle the whole canal.
  • Bridges may prevent you from paddling in one go without walking around them.

Conclusion

Visit New Jersey during summer if you plan to go during peak kayaking season. Remember that, since the weather is nicer at this time of the year, tourists will be plentiful; if you want to avoid the crowds, plan to go during the off-season. Spring and fall may still be crowded, but will be less busy than summer. Just keep in mind that the weather may be very cold at these times of the year.

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