I’ve been surf kayaking and paddling around in the local rivers by me here in NJ for a few years now, (navsink, shrewsbury, etc) and really want to try whitewater. Anyone know any areas to get maybe some smaller rapids in the state, haven’t had much luck on the internet. Also wanted to know if anyone recommended a good beginner boat for someone who is short (I’m 5’3" and 145)? I’ve done whitewater rafting, but want something I can do without other people in the boat. Any suggestions?
I used to live in Bucks Co Pa and work in Princeton, NJ many years ago.
Check out Towhicon Creek near Lambertville, it's in Pa and flows into the Delaware. Only significant flows during storms and water releases. There is also a small section of class II on the Delaware River near New Hope. Don't try to run the wing dam unless someone shows you the right path. I know there is a kayaking club in Bucks County Pa that posts here from time to time.
I’m not familiar with your area, but a good resource for checking out ww rivers is the American Whitewater board:
Click New Jersey or your surrounding states and look for rivers listed that are at the level you are looking for (class II/II+).
As for a boat, I don’t think being short is going to limit your choice of boat whatsoever (only the opposite does that!). The bigger issue is what type of whitewater are you interested in doing? River running only? Or will you perhaps want to get into surfing/playboating? You might not know right now! Assuming you just want a good beginner river runner for now, there is a gal that I paddle with about your size who has a Dagger GT. She loves that boat, and it’s a pretty forgiving hull for starting out, easy to roll, and also not a total dog on the flats. It’s a boat you might be able to find used (maybe off BoaterTalk gear swap).
Final suggestion is that learning whitewater is definitely something to do with others, so hopefully some locals will pipe in with suggestions of local clubs that can help with skill development and trips. As you increase the level of difficulty of the rivers you paddle, you’ll want to be with others who already know the river to help show you the lines. The other advantage of a club, is you can try out other boats to help you decide which might be best for you.
I’m coming up on my second year of whitewater paddling, and am having an absolute blast. Good luck finding your ww boat and have fun!!!
Join a Paddlin’ Club
Join a paddlin’ club. The Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club here in NJ runs all kinds of trips including whitewater all year long.
P.O. Box 369
Bogota, NJ 07603
Jersey Area WW
Outside of the Delaware, there is not much “whitewater” in the NJ area that I would recommend for a beginner.
You should join a club and take some lessons if you want to get into WW.
It’s too easy for bad stuff to happen in WW if you don’t know what you’re doing. (I know of two WW kayakers in the NE who died in relatively benign Cl 2s in the past few years).
Clubs I recommend:
Appalachian Mountain Club
These are the most active clubs in NJ when it comes to whitewater paddling (I’m a member of both).
Both run WW kayak instructionals (AMC even has boats for rent, if you need one.) Check out the websites for details.
AMC especially runs lots of trips, from flat water through Cl 4.
You might also want to try out one of the AMC pool sessions (held at NJIT on tuesday nights through March). The AMC sessions have plenty of boats you can try.
For questions about a boat for you, check out the KCCNY forum, or contact the “kayakmentors” at the AMC website.
If you do get into WW, there’s quite a bit within an hour or two of NJ (mostly in Pa, and NY). Lehigh, Nescopec, Brodhead, Shohola, Esopus, Mongaup, Tohicon…
NJ is not a bad place to be (in a wet year) if you’re a WW paddler.
But the best suggestion I can give you is to get out of the bad habit of using training paddles right now, and switch over to a single blade.
I would think heading into PA would find some nice runs. As suggested above, American Whitewater has listings of ww runs by state. Also, highly recommend taking some intro lessons with a outfitter to start and then joining a club to find partners to run rivers with.