Delaware river kayaking

I am very much a newbie, only ever been on calm lakes. But I want to try going out on the Delaware this summer. I’m really timid about the rapids.

I have a sit-on-top ocean, 8’ kayak.

What section of the Delaware is calmest? Best for newbies? I’m near Delaware Water Gap.


Also, any suggests for a newbie going out on the river?

Wear your PFD
and don’t do it alone.

Get the delaware canoe guide book and check details on the American whitewater web site. The river can be paddled from way upstate NY down to Trenton there are class I and II rapids here and there some areas of ledges and boulder fields. Skinners falls, Scudders falls and the wing dam near bulls island are Class II+ with hydraulics that can pin you or your boat. YOU MUST be aware of the flow level because what is usually a pleasant paddle can get really hairy when the river is up. the trip through the gap is class II, not the best way to start. Milford to Dingmans Ferry is a good starter stretch.

talk with the local outfitters Bob Landers or Kitatinny canoe for details. they can help shuttle as well

I found the trip through the Gap
pretty tame and nowhere near class 2 unless the water level is high average.

I think it is tame
too, but I have been paddling 40 years and the OP hasn’t been in a current yet…

You sound like you would be best served by going on a trip with an outfitter. That way you have the right equipment and some local knowledge along the way.

I paddle the Upper Delaware River but
not in the Gap region. Up here there is class II here and there when levels are just right.

Don’t go alone.
This is really important advice.

go alone
go when water is up

Find USGS STREAM GAUGES for Delaware River NY/PA/NJ

And speak with Lander abt river conditions…see Lander Canoe Delaware River.

Early summer the flow will be low, currents meanders over the bottom.

You will maneuver the boat: right left stop eddy turn eddy turn and ferry both upstream and down.

Narrowsburg may be a place to practice. Ask Lander.

Begin on a shallow lake with figure 8’s around gallon jug buoys.

With your boat you should buy a wetsuit, booties, water sandals, a clear vinyl dry bag, polyester long sleeve crews (no cotton), a sun hat and good sunglasses. The bag attaches to the hull. A spare paddle. A small pelican box for car keys and cards. Cell phone.

Becomes expensive….with a Grumman throw the stuff in and GO.

The river is good and swimmable from NY thru the Water Gap.

I have never run a wing dam but similar. Center position, straight down hull…and watch out for the mass of debris below you.

The wing-dam advice is funny
Center position? On a wing dam? Why?

This is a wing dam. Not only that, but it might be the exact one that was mentioned in the first reply:

any dam sluice
asks the paddler for centering boat in flow and straight down with flow…in these wing dams.

I knew the River from start to finish. There are one or two or were…I’m not there for 20 years…symmetrical V wing dams with flow in center river.

IMHO wing dams float debris into the center flow…which is the danger. You may scout it but that does not remotely suggest the drop will be clear when you get there/

You could find a 2CV !

ask the river

I thought my implication was clear.
There’s no reason to go over a wing dam at all, or at least not at a location where the flow is strong. Missing it entirely, or going over at a location having less-violent flow, which is typical on the end closer to shore, makes more sense.

And I’ve never seen debris below a wing dam. They aren’t designed in a way that makes that happen.

Milford / Dingmans / Bushkill
Milford to Dingman’s is a good beginner stretch, followed by Dingman’s to Bushkill. One thing about river within the DWGNRA, even if you’re alone, you’re never alone. Look for the Pocono Pony for a weekend shuttle, if it’s running again this summer.

wing dams are popular

in song, fable, and route directions…like bird dropping on chickee roofs

Do middle or lower river - river Guide
Below is the link for the Delaware Water Trail, which breaks the river into sections and talks about each, including launch points. I assume that you have a car and can drive you and the boat to a good point on the river, one that does not have moving water. I drive through lower New Jersey regularly and lived there for some years - it is not so big a state that a good launch point is more than a reasonable drive away for a day paddle.

My read of your post is that you want to avoid whitewater, not find the least dangerous version of it. According to this guide the middle and lower sections of the Delaware River are flatwater. The one thing that jumps out at a glance is that the middle section might be a better place for being able to land pretty freely, as it goes thru a national park area. The shoreline of the lower section is mostly private property, so finding a place to land for a lunch break could be tough.

If you can find a guided tour an be plopped into their boat for a first trip, consider it. Tours are not going to improve your paddling, but they are an excellent way to get the feel for a new paddling venue quickly.


– Last Updated: May-06-15 11:21 AM EST –

I agree that it sounds like you want flat water. If so, and you're driving to find it, you can also consider paddling the Delaware & Raritan Canal, it's quite placid and scenic. It runs parallel to the river down to Trenton, then runs inland. The section in Princeton is adjacent to Lake Carnegie, a nice paddle. There are canoe rentals available on the canal itself in Princeton and Griggstown. I think a canoe is preferable to a short SOT for this type of paddling.

D&R !

I had no idea…

If you learn to paddle as well as you drive your car then you would say the Mighty Delaware has no rapids of note.

When arriving at Skinners Falls…there’s a Canoe Base there ? try floating the ‘rapids’ in your pdf.

Also suggest you ignore datakoll
This round is getting especially bizarre.