The best places to kayak (or learn to kayak) in New Jersey
NOTew Jersey is known as the Garden State, but you can’t have beautiful gardens without water. Fortunately, there are several water sources in the state, many of which are perfect for paddling. With that in mind, we’re eliminating our list of the best places to kayak in New Jersey.
Whether you already have yours or need to rent one nearby, these are the best kayaking spots in NJ. So grab a paddle, life jacket, and sunscreen and get ready for a relaxing water excursion. From lakes and rivers to ponds and reservoirs, you can kayak on each of these beautiful bodies of water.
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Location: Township of Byram (Accessible via Allamuchy Mountain State Park)
Details: A public boat launch is available for boaters, canoeists and kayakers to use year-round at Cranberry Lake. Kayaking here offers 55 miles of shore, where you can explore numerous coves and coves.
Why I like it: Cranberry Lake is shallow and a great place for beginners learning to kayak.
Location: Laurel Hill County Park, Secaucus
Details: The Laurel Hill Paddling Center makes it easy to explore the Hackensack River. You can rent a single or tandem kayak for just $ 25 per paddler for four hours.
Why I like it: The park also offers guided paddle board tours. You can choose a moonlight paddle (friendly for beginners) or a Sunday high tide paddle for more experienced kayakers.
Location: Hopatcong State Park, Landing
Details: Of course, New Jersey’s largest freshwater lake offers great kayaking! This nine mile lake has 2,500 acres of water to explore. While there are no places to rent a kayak in the park, many nearby private marinas offer rentals.
Why I like it: You have two great options for your eyesight; historic homes on the shore or Liffy Island, the largest undeveloped section of the lake.
Location: 1081 County Road 511, Ringwood (South boat launch)
Details: This serene body of water is the ideal place for an afternoon paddle; you will be surrounded by the forests of Long Pond Ironworks National Park. If you’re up for a three-mile kayak trip, you can travel from one end to the other; Otherwise, you can just walk around the 500 acres of water in the reservoir and have a great time.
Why I like it: The Flatwater Paddle Company offers kayak rentals right next to the boat launch.
Location: Overpeck Kayak Launch, Teaneck
Details: The Hackensack Riverkeeper organization has one of its paddle centers here; which aims to give families a convenient and fun way to explore the local waterways. Overpeck Park Paddling Center rents kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards for use at Overpeck Creek; a perfect place for beginners.
Why I like it: Children 12 and older can paddle alone on a single kayak. (But they must be accompanied by an adult in another kayak.)
Location: Essex County Environmental Center, Roseland
Details: You can launch your kayak from West Essex Park and set off on the Passaic River. Whether you choose to go upstream or downstream, you will be sure to see all kinds of wildlife; ranging from deer and blue herons to turtles and more.
Why I like it: This area is perfect for day trips, with various trails and gardens to explore.
Location: White Lake Natural Resource Area, Hardwick
Details: Named after its chalky white marl bottom, White Lake is ideal for kayakers on the lookout for wildlife. In fact, you are likely to find bald eagles, bears, and even bobcats. But there are other sites to see, including several endangered plant species; as well as a historic lime kiln and the remains of a marl processing facility from years ago.
Why I like it: The park’s kayaking program offers free rentals every Tuesday from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. However, they are by reservation only.
Location: Environmental Education Center, Basking Ridge
Details: If you are new to canoeing, the Somerset County Park Commission offers canoe and kayak lessons. Then, once you’re comfortable enough, you can move on to guided paddling activities.
Why I like it: They even offer instructional lessons in the pool if you are not ready for the pond.
Davidson mill pond
Location: Davidson’s Mill Pond Park, North Brunswick
Details: This pond is another great place for beginner kayakers. It’s quiet with little traffic, and it’s surrounded on all sides by serene forests.
Why I like it: You will find a series of pollinator boxes throughout the park; with the aim of improving the conditions of pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
Location: Princeton University Campus, Princeton
Details: This man-made lake was created in 1906 for use by the rowing teams at Princeton University. Today it is open to the public to anyone in a non-motorized boat. During your journey you will pass by islands, bridges and picturesque houses.
Why I like it: Community access to the lake is available from the free boat launch; adjacent to Highway 27, near Kingston Road.
Location: Watchung reserve, on the mountainside
Details: A hidden gem in the middle of the Watchung Preserve, Surprise Lake is 24 acres of flat water. Of course, this makes it a perfect place to go kayaking. This calm and peaceful lake is also surrounded by abundant wildlife and a wooded shoreline.
Why I like it: When you are back on earth, you can visit the deserted village of Feltville Park.
Spruce Run Reservoir
Location: 12 Van Syckles Road, Clinton
Details: Spruce Run Reservoir is a varied 15 mile long shoreline with many nooks and crannies to explore; which makes it an exciting destination for a kayaking excursion. You will pass sandy beaches, campsites, wooded areas and an island.
Why I like it: The water is flat, so again beginners will feel comfortable.
Cape May Harbor
Location: 1600 Delaware Ave, Cape May
Details: Rent a single, double or surf kayak at Aqua Trails before heading to Cape May Harbor. Likewise, you can sign up for one of the available guided tours; they range from options such as sunset tours to full moon tours.
Why I like it: Aqua Trails offers free delivery around Cape May if you hire for more than 24 hours.
Cedar Creek Campground
Location: 1052 boul. Atlantic City, Bayville
Details: This family-friendly campsite has it all, including camping, kayaking, canoeing and more. You can rent a variety of kayaks or bring your own to paddle at Cedar Creek. In fact, the staff will drop you off at one of three locations, depending on how far you are paddling.
Why I like it: Anyone who rents a kayak or canoe is welcome to use the facility’s showers.
Great Egg Harbor River
Location: Penny Pot Park, Hammonton
Details: The Great Egg Harbor River is massive. But if you start at Penny Pot Park, you can kayak in the tidal section downstream of Lenape Lake. You will see swamps and marshes on this easier stretch of the river.
Why I like it: Kayak and canoe rentals are not available at the park; but you can find them at nearby sites such as Winding River Campground.
Location: 483 West Front Street, Red Bank
Details: Like Somerset County, the Monmouth County Park System offers educational kayaking lessons for $ 25 per person (kayak rental included). The hour-long course is led by a park naturalist and teaches you how to safely ride a kayak; while discussing local history and wildlife.
Why I like it: Children from 12 to 18 years old can participate if accompanied by an adult.
Location: 450 South Park Drive, Collingswood
Details: Relax as you cruise along the waters of vibrant Cooper River Park. There are several starting points for your kayak, so you can access the river from a few places; but be on the lookout for professional rowers who practice here.
Why I like it: Rentals are available at the Cooper River Yacht Club inside the park.
Location: Greenwich Lake Park, Gibbstown
Details: In Greenwich Lake Park, you will find a boat launch, fishing, grilling areas and restrooms. In other words, this is the perfect location for a day trip that includes kayaking. Like many other lakes in NJ, this one has calm waters and is great for beginners.
Why I like it: The lake is stocked with trout so you can do some serious fishing after kayaking!
Rancocas Creek Canoe Trail
Location: Rancocas Creek Drive, Pemberton
Details: This is another great place to view wildlife. The 14-mile Rancocas Creek Canoe Trail is home to blue herons, turtles, ducks, and geese. You’ll also pass Smithville Historical Park before reaching the end of the trail at Mt. Holly.
Why I like it: Several accesses along the path allow the journey to be shortened if necessary.
Location: Parvin State Park, Pittsgrove
Details: You can access Parvin Lake from the boat launch at Fisherman’s Landing. From there you will find an easy paddle around the perimeter. The landscape is filled with beautiful plants and flowers, but the colors are more vibrant in spring.
Why I like it: After doing your canoeing training, you can go to the supervised beach to swim.
Location: Boat launch (off Carmel Road), Millville
Details: Union Lake is quite large, with a handful of access points and a larger boat launch. You can certainly spend a day exploring the over 5,000 acres of this man-made lake. Union Lake is peaceful and flat, so it’s great for first-timers or just for relaxing.
Why I like it: There are a number of small islands located in the lake serving as resting points.