Terry Anderson’s KLOG
May 27 2007, 2:15 PM-4:15 PM
Raritan River and Raritan Water Canal, near Raritan, NJ
Launched from Duke Island Park (aka Duvall Island Park?)
I launched on the Raritan River from one of the many spots available in Duke Island Park. I parked in the west-most lot (Lot C) and used my “Paddle Boy” wheels to roll the kayak along the paved path to one of the spots used by fishermen to get to the river. It was very shallow up river toward the dam at the west end of the island, so I just went down stream. Note that Duke Island is really a man-made island between the Raritan River and the Raritan Water Canal that starts at the west end of the island – just above the small dam. Down stream the river varied between 6” to 2’ deep. I paddled leisurely down stream to next small dam (12-18”?) near the east end of the park. The south shore offers the easier portage but is marked “no trespassing” so I used the north shore which is park land. The bank is higher and steeper but no real problem. I carried by Paddle Boy wheels so could easily roll the kayak the 50’ to a good launch below the dam.
Along the route beside the park, I saw a lot of large fish jumping, two cormorants, a Great Blue heron, and two hawks (probably Red-Tail).
I continued downstream to the next dam at Lyman St/River Rd in Raritan. Google Earth shows it above the bridge but there is a new bridge (newer than the current Google image) above the dam, so the dam is between the new and where the old bridge was. I landed on the south shore to reconnoiter the portage, and easy landing, but found that the water below the dam was very shallow. I would have had to walk 50’ or so beyond the dam to launch again. The water is deeper on the north side but the bank looked too steep to be usable. Since the time I wanted to spend was nearly half over, I decided to return upstream and explore down stream from this dam (through the Duke Estate) on a later trip.
A little above the dam (about 0.1 mi) on the north side is a side stream entering over a 10-15’ high dam and a launch site (use Lyman St which passes over the new bridge and becomes River Rd, and then left on Canal St – one way west, launch site is block west before it joins Old York Rd). The dam is the east end of the Raritan Water Canal, and I found that taking out at this launch site and crossing a small footbridge over the dam, I could launch into the canal. This made a nice return trip without repeating the river – nice surprise. The canal is much deeper than the river (more than my paddle length) with negligible current. Some areas have floating plants. These areas especially had very large fish (15-18”) sunning near the surface. Along the canal I saw two more heron and lots of small birds (such as red-wing black birds). It is more peaceful than the river (except that the Dawn Patrol Motor Cycle club whose headquarters is in a house between the canal and the river on Roberts Street (just east of the end of the park) was having a 70th anniversary celebration with rock music and a lot of amplification. A little before the Roberts Street bridge there was a spot where they appear to be building a new bridge over the canal. There was a temporary floating bridge made with three dock-floats connected by beams. This was too low to paddle under but fortunately the floats were only tied to the bank on the south side by a rope and there was room to pass between it and the bank. All other bridge are easily paddled under, although the Roberts Street bridge requires ducking down.
I paddled back into the park and took out near Lot C. The bank is steep and water deep beside the bank so the exit is trickier but usable.
Distance from my launch point in the park to the first dam was 1.4 miles (by Google Earth) and it was another 0.9 mi to the next dam. In the canal, the floating bridge was about 0.5 mi west of the east end of the canal with Roberts St another 0.4 mi. and about 1.0 mi back to lot C. Total I paddled about 5 mi leisurely in 2 hr.
* If you have Google Earth installed, you can double-click on the attached Placemark file and it will fly you to a location. If not, you will need to install Google Earth first (available at http://earth.google.com).