Dela. & Raritan Canal, NJ, Question

If anyone is familiar with the Delaware and Raritan Canal, can it still be paddled all the way from Delaware River to New York? If there are portions that have to be portaged, any idea on the total length of portage needed to complete the transit? If coming up the coast, would you recommend it over the NJ ICW and going offshore in North Jersey to reach Sandy Hook? (Prettier, safer, more interesting?) Thanks.

The park map is located here:

I paddled a lot of it this past summer, from around Port Mercer up to Zarephath, in sections. There are a number of low bridges that can either be squeaked under or portaged around. There are locks as well, although I planned my sections so that they ran from one lock to the next, so I don’t know about portaging there. I enjoyed it very much, as I love flatwater - plus in the summer heat, the trees on the canal edge provide welcome shade. I saw few other paddlers, so it was pleasant.

I believe there is a stretch through Trenton that is not passable, and I have no idea what happens once it gets to New Brunswick. There’s a good source of info on NJ paddling here. The Canal is mostly in Mercer and Middlesex counties:

Good luck

I learned about the D&R while reading “The Voyage of the Paper Canoe”. A great read about a trip in 1874 from Quebec to the Gulf and up Miss. and tributaries to Pittsburg. Thanks for the links. I’ll research them.

I live close by
And rode my bike along a section today. There is lots of damage from the recent storms. Many trees have fallen across the canal and, there is lots of debris hung up in the fallen trees and bridges. You would have to portage around the bridges, there is so much stuff you could not get through. The water is the color of Yoo-Hoo. The water goes under ground for several miles in Trenton, not passable in a boat. It ends in New Brunswick, you would have to portage to the Raritan River, not easy, and worse now. The canal and tow path are in sad shape.

I fully understand the flooding problems now, but am looking forward to next spring or early summer. Leob1, you sound really negative about the passage. Would either of you recommend going up the coast instead, in spite of the long offshore stint by open canoe from Manasquan to Sandy Hook?


– Last Updated: Sep-11-11 1:29 PM EST –

I can't say about the NJ coast, as I've never paddled it. I'm usually by myself, and don't do the open ocean alone. Maybe you should consider joining the JSSKA, get into the message boards and see what the members have to say about your idea.

PS sorry to hear about the damage to the Canal - I only came across a couple of downed trees there this summer, and none obstructed the channel.

Two of our members from JSSKA just circumnavigated the entire state of New Jersey and could probably give you some very good advice on what the conditions would be like. Their names are Kerry P. and Chris Raab (of Tuktu Paddles).

Any information on how to contact them? Could you ask one of them to call jim at 580-744-0774? Thanks.

D&R Canal
Before contacting anyone else, try the owner: D&R Canal Commission. Below if from their website.

ps - from your initial post, I am not sure you know where the canal goes. It could be paddled from north of Trenton to Bull Island / Lumberville. Never went to New York. The section from New Brunswick to Trenton could be paddled to the vicinity of Lawrenceville.


HURRICANE IRENE & TROPICAL STORM LEE AFTERMATH: As anticipated, Hurricane Irene caused extensive damage to the canal park. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE BULLS ISLAND CAMPGROUND WILL BE CLOSED FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE 2011 SEASON. THE MAIN CANAL TOWPATH IS CLOSED during tree removal and towpath stabilization. THE FEEDER CANAL TOWPATH HAS FLOODED DUE TO HEAVY RAIN FROM TROPICAL STORM LEE AND IS INACCESSIBLE. THE DELAWARE RIVER IS EXPECTED TO CREST FRIDAY MORNING (9/9). ONCE THE RIVER HAS RECEDED, AN ASSESSMENT OF THE DAMAGE WILL BEGIN. BE ADVISED that flood waters caused a breach in the canal wall south of Firemans Eddy in Hopewell Township and near the Port Mercer Canal House in Lawrence Township. The pedestrian bridge at DEMOTT LANE (off Easton Avenue in Franklin Township) has broken loose and has floated about 100 feet downstream. A complete replacement will be required. Numerous trees are down and mud and debris litter the path in many locations along the length of the park. We ask the public’s patience as the storm damage is assessed by both Park and Water Supply Authority staff. We would also ask that the public refrain from accessing either the feeder or main canal path at this time. Contact our park office at 609-924-5705 with any questions or concerns.