Anyone have local knowledge for New Jersey paddling?

I will probably be posting a few posts along these lines (for different destinations) as I will be driving with my kayak from Atlanta GA to Burlington VT (and back) in another month or so and want to do kind of a Mid-Atlantic / New England sampler in several different states.

Looking at a map of NJ, I was kind of drawn to either the Mullica River and/or Great Bay area (possibly combing the lower reaches of the river with the Bay and probably passing by the inlet (maybe stopping for lunch on one of what looks like a white sand beach as the inlet curves around into the bay, based on google satellite view). But really I could do anything, including potentially something more inland (like the upper reaches of the Mullica, although I will be paddling a composite sea kayak so don’t want to be hitting rocks or portaging around obstacles), perhaps something on one of the bays behind Cape May…whatever. So, I’m looking for suggestions. When I was reconnoitering on the internet re: Mullica and Great Bay, I was having a difficult time finding a boat ramp where I would feel that my truck would be secure. Anyway, if you have any suggestions for great paddles, and helpful local knowledge (e.g., mudflats to avoid at low tide, places where you have to be careful with heavy tidal currents, launch sites, great post-paddle restaurants, whatever) I would love to hear from you.

Thanks a bunch,

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Round Valley reservoir is a nice day paddle, it’s a large lake, for NJ. Water is crystal clear and the lake is deep, supports lake trout.

Split Rock reservoir in Northern Nj is another nice day paddle. Completely surround by forests, except for a house perched on a hill.

NY harbor is a great paddle, put in at Liberty State Park, statue of liberty is nearby and the Manhattan skyline. Be aware of tides. It can be like a giant conveyor belt that can take you the wrong way.

I like Round Valley, but winds can be strong and it’s just, well, round… I prefer Spruce Run a few miles west, it has a varied perimeter and a lot to look at, as I recall.

Split Rock beats them both - I love that reservoir, it really feels remote.

NY Harbor is very busy, can be treacherous with all the traffic, not for the unwary or unobservant.

There are a number of great rivers to paddle in Monmouth and Ocean Counties near the coast including the Navesink, Shrewsbury, and Manasquan Rivers. Beware the currents at the ocean inlets however and be aware of the tides. With the incoming and outgoing tides the water can be very rough and impossible to paddle against, especially around Sandy Hook.

However, I moved from this area decades ago and do not have any recent knowledge of this area any more.

The Pine Barrens in Southern Jersey are very popular, but I haven’t been there because many of the rivers a best paddled with a shorter plastic boat. Local knowledge is recommended.

The Jersey Shore Sea Kayak Association would be a great place to get information, but unfortunately their web site is only open to paid members.

If you’re coming up the NJTP, Mount Holly is 10 minutes off of exit 5. It’s tidal from Mount Holly to the Delaware River. About 10 miles, I think. Part of the creek runs through the city. Really nice in the spring.

Thanks for the helpful info everyone. Rstevens, for $20 I might actually join that group, if for nothing else, for the list of launch sites.


My wife and I moved from NJ 3 years ago but we did quite a bit of paddling in Barnegat Bay and the Metedeconk River that flows into it. As the others have said, be very careful around the ocean inlets, especially at high and low tides. We also paddled many of the inland lakes.

Kayaking out to the Statue of Liberty in lower NY harbor is something you’ll always remember. The first time we did it we used John Pagani, a local guide, to take us as he knows the shipping lanes and the security - since 9/11 - considerations. You can contact him at . He’s a good guy.

I’m dated now as I live in New Hampshire, but the Mullica is a nice, generally slow moving river but it has it’s share of shallows, trees etc in the water.

As someone else mentioned the Metedeconk is a bit better I think and the Barnegat Bay or Little Egg Harbor are also great spots if the wind isn’t blowing too hard.

Actually since you are from GA, Barnegat or Egg Harbor would be the more unique experience I think. It can get choppy with boat traffic or wind, so you will want to be comfortable with more open water conditions. They also aren’t too far off route up the coast as they are near the Parkway that runs into the Turnpike (95).

I never had an issue with my old Eddyline Nighthawk aside from it being long to turn around in some of the tighter spots in the upper Mullica but it wasn’t a delicate layup build.

Round Valley Reservoir is a better bet with the nice sand beach launch area.