Terry Anderson’s KLOG
Jul 07 2007, 1:30 PM-4:30 PM
Raritan River, near Raritan, NJ
Launched from a public launch on Canal St near the new Basilone Memorial bridge in Raritan.
The launch site has a small parking lot and a rough ramp to the river. It also allows access to the Raritan Water Canal for paddling or to the foot path with follows it back to Duke Island Park. I went down stream, as I had paddled the river down to this point and back on the canal on a previous trip (see). Going down stream you encounter a small (18” or so) dam after only 0.1 mi. So this is not an ideal launch site for this trip but I could find nothing available beyond the dam. It probably would have been better to start from the place I turned around and go upstream first.
I portaged around the dam (not too difficult) but one must also go a couple hundred yards beyond the dam before there is deep enough water to float a kayak. Most of the water downstream from this point is several feet deep but one occasionally encounters stretches where it is very shallow on one side or the other and in two or three places it is no more than 12” across the entire width. Going down was no problem but these posed some problems returning. One must also watch for large rocks that come to within inches of the surface. One can see these by the wake or standing wave they cause.
The first stretch (from the small dam to US206 bridge travels through the old Duke Estate. No buildings can be seen from the water (banks are too high) but it is a very peaceful quite stretch with little evidence of development. Except for the shallow parts previously referred to, the current is slow and I relaxed and floated much of it with little paddling.
After the US206 bridge, the river continues much the same but with shallows more common and more development in view. I turned around at the Duke Park (Google Earth Placemark *) in Manville. The park is on the river bank along Duke Parkway and would appear to be a suitable launch site, although I have not tried it yet or looked for restrictive signs. The bank is low and easily climbed and there were a lot of fishermen there.
The return paddle was also pleasant but with the wind and current now against me it was more work. The only problems were the shallows where the current was swift (maybe 5 knots or so) and since this is caused by shallow water one also had less than a full paddle bite, but I was able to paddle through all of them, although one was challenging.
On the paddle down, a fish leaped near the boat and continued 6 or 7 arching leaps in a row, then if turned and followed by boat for 30 feet. Other wildlife seen included the usual Great Blue Herons (7 seen), hawks (probably Red Tailed, 4 or 5 seen), and one turtle swimming.
* If you have Google Earth installed, you can double-click on the attached Placemark file and it will fly you to the location. If not, you will need to install Google Earth first (available at http://earth.google.com).