Paddling the entire Delaware

I am planning on a multi-day trip on the river, doing the whole Jersey section from Matamoris to Cape May. If time allows I would ove to go from Hancock, NY down to Cape May. I have done just about everything from Matamoris down to Trenton at one time or another and I am really looking for some good info from Trenton down. My time frame will be sometime this November (no crowds, good temps, and time off from work). Looking in the 6-12 day range might consider going to 14 if it means I could go up to Hancock, NY.

Looking for camping spots mainly. Is there any legal camping South of Trenton? Any landowners that would be camper friendly for one night? How about launch sites that I could crash at? Also how much ground can I expect to cover on a good day?
Haven't decided what boat(s) I will be using yet. Maybe a touring boat (for the speed) or a canoe or two for the storage (cooler space), but I am leaning more toward touring boats mainly to cover more ground on the southern tidal section.

There is a book
Canoeing The Delaware River by Gary Letcher

The book is dated, about 10 or more years old, but still may be useful. Letcher paddled the river from top to bottom.

Below Trenton the river changes dramatically from picturesque non commercial to industrialized commercial. Not that it doesn’t have its scenic parts. There are no campgrounds that i know of south of Trenton. There are several state/county/city parks, numerous boat ramps and marinas. There are plenty of places to get out of the boat. However, none for legal camping.

Around Philly the river developes a strong tidal current. I’ve never measured it but sailors at the Riverton yacht club have clocked it at 5 knots plus. I can’t tell you if that’s the norm. Regardless, use it to your advantage.

On the jersey side things start get less industrialized south of Paulsboro. Once south of the DMB the jersey side goes to marsh, beach, and mud south of Pennsville. Plenty of stealth camping opportunities.

I’ve been using
I’ve been using Letcher’s book for years. Great resource, unfortunately his books stops at Trenton. It looks like if I want to do this properly and legally I’ll have to call some towns and marinas to set up some camping.

Do some scouting
via Google earth.

Sorry about the book post. I thought he had gone the distance. I know I read about someone who did the entire river. He did it in stages as he had time off, but he did the entire river.

As far as what boat? I’d use a sea kayak. Between the tides, boat traffic, and big water the further south you go it would seem to me to be the best suited for the job.

There is a reason the book stops
at Trenton New Jersey. Seriously do you think you want to camp anywhere within 60 miles south of Trenton?

(Trust me I used to live in Yardley PA.)

As ugly as it can be
4 nights of camping isn’t going to do that much harm. I’ve spent a lot of time at Scudders falls WW kayaking, and grew up fishing near Bordentown. Been on many other rivers just as bad too.

Tcj - I’ve spent a lot of time on google earth, what a great tool. Have been able to find a few people’s waypoints via google searches and found some viable camping just need to seek permission or just go stealth. Agree with the sea kayak, be able to cover much more ground.

try the Delaware Sojourn site for info

– Last Updated: Jun-16-09 11:33 PM EST –
Katherine O'Hara is the coordinator, I bet she could give you info or refer you to a resource.
2009 Day seven is the stretch near Philly and Camden.

The Sojourn may look pricey to someone used to self supported tripping. However,
They provide a boat if you need one, safety instruction, guiding, support, shuttles, camping spots, often low cost meals (think church or Lions picnic), and professional grade presentations about the Delaware and its surrounding habitat. The group numbered 50 boats on the days I paddled. I am "the more the merrier" type, I had a great time every time I went.

Start higher up in Hancock, by all means
’Cause by the time you’re south of Trenton,

you’ll literally have gone from one extreme

to the other (as in pristine to polluted.)

And whatever you do, don’t camp in Camden,

unless you find a really good refrigerator box.

Myself, I’d pull out around Lambertville/New Hope

(good restaurants there to close out a long paddle on.) Or at Washington’s Crossing State Park, the latest…Then I’d drive down to Cape May for some seakayaking.

There is a launch site in Yardley
Near Afton and River Road …I’d take out there and then drive down through Jersey and launch down near Cape May …

I’m not into guns …
But I think if I was camping in Camden, I’d take something that can be switched to full auto…

I loved the Delaware River when I lived there, but past Bristol and THE Trash Dump … naw I don’t think so.

My youngest son was born in the middle of night in june 18 years ago in downtown Trenton, I remember driving home through the crack dealers … ah memories.

I went to Trenton State for a time
(the College, not the Prison)before transfering.

–Dunno what they call it now…I spent a year one night in the Bordentown Lounge…I paddled the Delaware extensively in the late 70’s-early 80’s. And now, never go below the Water Gap. Still got lots of good friends in Jersey and Philly.

Hey, Yardley–That used to be a really nice town.

I wouldn’t count any part of the Delaware as pristine. Nor would I count any part as heavily polluted.

There are areas south of Trenton that are less than scenic if your benchmark for scenic is Rocky Mountain stream. The scenery goes to commercial industrial for parts of the river. Just a different kind of scenic. There are many many miles of very nice river to paddle. Pretty in places, even if developed. Fisherman and other boaters are in abundance. So the lower Delaware is not the toxic wasteland some might believe.

As for being dangerous, yes,it is. Lots of current, big tides, and bigger water. And plenty deep as well. But danger from people? Not really. The stretch from the Tacony Bridge to Ft Miflin is highly industrailized and would have to be scouted for take out points. Unless that stretch can be done in one sitting? A few miles south of the Walt Whitman Bridge is a big park on the Jersey side.

Parts of Camden are dangerous, but unless you wander into an open air drug market after dark you should be OK. These markets are not operating on the river. Use of common sense should suffice here.

As for skipping the lower Delaware for kayaking at Cape May? OK, but that does negate the reason for the trip.

Make the trip and then write the book.