Terry Anderson Kayak Log
May 28, 2006 1:50 PM-4:35 PM
Mill Creek from Mill Creek Point Park on the Hackensack River, Secaucus, NJ
Low tide about 4:30 PM
Mill Creek flows into the Hackensack River at Mill Creek Point. The park is right on the point (just past some ball fields), but only small residential roads lead to it so it is a little hard to find. The Park has parking for about 8-10 cars but only a two others where there on a holiday weekend Sunday. Lots of additional parking near the ball fields about 200 yards before the park. There is a boat ramp made of paving stones, but at low tide the water is below end of the paving so you may have to cross a few feet of mud. Signs at the park tell about wildlife in the area and show map of a “canoe trail” up the main channel of Mill Creek. The trail is marked occasionally with round signs to help identify the main channel.
The creek runs through wet lands with marshy areas and large growths of reeds. It has many side pools and channels some looping around and back to the main channel and others dead ending. The main channel had adequate water for a canoe or kayak even at low tide but many of the side channels and pools are mud flats at low tide. Since I started a couple of hours before low tide there was some down-stream current (ebb tide) in the creek but it was not difficult to paddle against it. I was able to paddle about a mile and a half up the creek before it got too shallow. At high tide one could have gone a little further.
Water fowl were numerous. In addition to a plentitude of gulls and mallards, I saw two heron, a dozen cormorants, and 25 or 30 egrets. Many of the egrets were quite small only 9-12 inches tall (even with neck extended), so perhaps newly hatched this spring. I got a quick glimpse of something dark and fat that slide down a bank and into the water, perhaps a muskrat which are supposed to be present in the area. I got a better look at a very large turtle that slide down a bank out of the reeds and into to water. It was about 12 by 9 inches. Later I saw a small head in the water in front of the kayak. I wasn’t sure if it was a head or a stick until it moved but from the water it roiled when it dove it must have been another modest sized turtle.
I encountered another curious phenomenon. In shallow water, I often found that I had a “wake” of churning water four or five feet in front of my kayak and extending several feet to each side. The water was impenetrably brown from silt and so I could not see anything but I assume that small fish were very numerous in the shallow water and were moving out of my way. It was not just a ripple here and there but a nearly uniform churning, so there must have been hundreds of fish. Only occasionally did I see a larger fish break the surface.
After I got as far up stream as possible and explored a few side channels before the water got to low, I returned to the put-in and explored north in the Hackensack River. Upstream a quarter of a mile I branched to the right into Cromakill Creek (Google Earth Placemark *), which goes under the eastern branch of the NJ Turnpike and turns south flowing past commercial buildings. There was still a little wildlife but this area is far less wild or interesting. I went upstream ½ or ¾ mile before turning around and paddling back to the put-in and getting out of the water.
* 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).