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It’s time to break out your kayak (or canoe)! Take a scenic paddle through one of these SJ waterways this Fall.

 

RANCOCAS CREEK

601 Pemberton-Browns Mills Road, Pemberton

Paddle the 14-mile Rancocas Creek trail from Burlington County College’s Pemberton Campus through Historic Smithville and down to Mill Damn Park in Mount Holly, stopping to admire all the picturesque nature in between. This Burlington County creek supported Native Americans and European settlers for centuries and is now a popular spot for those looking to hit the water – and for good reason: the creek’s distinctive, dark cedar water flows from the Pinelands. Plus, it’s a great spot to see herons, turtles, beavers and other wildlife.

BEFORE YOU GO: This can be a good stream for beginners, but the county advises not getting too big for your britches; start with a short trip to get comfortable with the trail. Also, the waterway between Clark’s Canoe Rental and Birmingham should be paddled by experienced kayakers only, due to multiple hazards and not enough clearance for canoes. With cedar waters, it’s not always easy to spot obstructions, so keep a steady eye, and wear a life jacket.

 

MULLICA RIVER

1005 Atsion Road, Shamong

Twisting from bank to bank, the diverse Mullica River is a Pine Barren favorite for many kayakers. The high, sandy banks are perfect for a picnic lunch or swimming, and there are plenty of popular spots where paddlers often pull over. Working your way down from Atsion Lake, stop at The Ponds, a hot-spot for the local beaver population. Back in the water, you’ll quickly approach “Old Mullica Camp,” where you can stop for a dip. A little further along is the “new” Mullica Camp, where you can extend your day trip into an overnight one. This trip might not be ideal for the novice, but it’s perfect if you’re looking for a longer adventure amidst nature’s best.

BEFORE YOU GO: The Mullica River Campground is located in Wharton State Forest, and if you plan to stay overnight, you’re going to need a permit. The campsite is only accessible by hiking or paddling; motorized vehicles are not allowed. But once you get to the campground, you’ll have access to clean water and bathrooms, though alcohol and chopping down trees are prohibited. For more information, call the Wharton State Forest office at 609-561-0024.

 

NEWTON LAKE

Cuthbert Boulevard & White Horse Pike, Collingswood

All 103-plus acres of Newton Lake park run through Collingswood, Oaklyn and Haddon Township. The lake is a modest two miles long, with the west side ending at the Black Horse Pike, where there is a small dam, and the east side ending near Cuthbert Boulevard. Even though the ride is short, it’s a relaxing way to enjoy time on the water (don’t miss gliding beneath the bridges that span the lake).

BEFORE YOU GO: There’s only one boat launch, and it’s easy to miss. On Route 30 before the CVS, look for the parking lot that is located by the “You are entering Collingswood” sign. An overhang of trees gives way to the little launch spot.

 

LAKE LENAPE

6303 Old Harding Highway, Mays Landing

This historic park encompasses a stunning 2,000 acres of land between Lake Lenape Park (on the west) and Hamilton Township (on the east). Its deep cedar waters and surrounding facilities – a swimming area, playgrounds and bathrooms – make this an all-day adventure for the entire family. Take a leisurely paddle around the lake, or head down the Great Egg Harbor River. You can also take an easy five-mile paddle from Weymouth Furnace, a historic smokestack and iron furnace used in the War of 1812, down the Great Harbor River to Lake Lenape.

BEFORE YOU GO: Boating access, ramps, kayaks and canoe access are located on the west side of Lake Lenape Park, but be sure to check in at the ranger station first. All boating occurs from 7:30 am until a half-hour after dusk. If you’d like to avoid the boat traffic, you can purchase a vehicle access permit for $5. That allows you to access two additional drop-in points on the Lake Lenape property.

 

GREAT EGG HARBOR RIVER

Eighth Street, near Mays Landing Road and Route 322, Folsom

The Great Egg Harbor River is one of the longest canoeing and kayaking rivers in the Pine Barrens. It’s not for the faint of heart, with a strenuous upper section that passes through swamps, fallen trees and other obstacles. But the distance between Penny Pot and Weymouth Furnace (and further, if you’d like a slightly longer paddle down to Lake Lenape) is one of the more relaxing sections. This path will take you through Penny Pot Park, past Weymouth Furnace and Camp Ascagisca, before hitting the lake. With a mix of swamps, marshes, views of holly and cedars, this trip can be both beautiful to behold and an enjoyable challenge.

BEFORE YOU GO: Penny Pot Park is an ideal starting point for canoe trips along the non-tidal section of the Great Egg Harbor River. The park is located right off Route 322 in Folsom.

 

COOPER RIVER PARK

79 South Park Drive, Collingswood

If you’re hoping for something with a mix of nature and urban flare, look no further than the Cooper River. Spanning from Pennsauken to Collingswood, Cooper River Park is an idyllic spot for many joggers, bikers and kayakers. Home to many prestigious rowing events, the park boasts a world-class, Olympic distance 2,000-meter narrow and sheltered straightaway, which makes it an ideal rowing spot. If you travel toward the Delaware River by the nearly vacant Petty Island, be aware these waters can get rough, so proceed with caution.

BEFORE YOU GO: The launch for kayaks is at the far side of the park, off the gravel parking lot. The Cooper River Yacht Club sits along Park Drive. Memberships are reasonable (particularly for students) and include access to community sailboats, kayaks, canoes and lessons.

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