Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club

paddling for over a third of a century

The Musconetcong in November
November 13, 2005

Duel trip reports by Bob Rancan and Lori Meier


by Bob Rancan

People always ask: "Isn't it too cold to paddle in November?" Maybe, maybe not. I've never been too keen on paddling big lakes, bays or open estuaries, and it doesn't take much to discourage me from going out. When I see cold fronts, wind and rain or sleet the boats don't leave the shed.

But fortunately I prefer canoeing small streams and shallow rivers. Usually, there are two windows of opportunity to canoe the Musconetcong (Sussex, Morris, Warren and Hunterdon counties): early spring and during the annual drawdown of Lake Hopatcong. The Lake is lowered every November to protect structures such as docks and retaining walls from the winter's ice. Every fifth year the releases start earlier (after Labor Day) in order to allow homeowners to make repairs on their lakeside structures prior to spring.

In 1992, 1997 and 2003 (2002 was a draught year) there were ample opportunities to paddle the different sections of the river. This year, with lots of rain falling in October, the November releases have been constant and full. For the first three weeks of the month the water levels at the Bloomsbury gauge have stayed between 2.20 and 3.00 feet (or about 320 to 360 cfs). That there was enough water to make the rocky stream navigable trumped the issue of the weather for me. So it was a bonus that the early part of November featured warm sunny days.

On November 13th ten of us explored approximately nine miles of the river from Hampton Borough Park to Bloomsbury. The water level was at 2.22 (324 cfs), the temperature reached the mid-sixties and there were still some colorful leaves left on the trees. We came very close to several great blue herons and the vanguard of the group watched a great horned owl move off its perch and cross the river.

It is a beautiful part of the river, still running past many farms, some of which feature stone houses, spring houses and root cellars. It is a relatively open paddle with just one portage, so the group had time and ability to relax and take it all in.

November on the Musconetcong is even better with good company. Thanks to Tom DeAngelis, Dave Emerson, Lee Filkins, Nabil Gukeluv, Jeff Hackett, Ed Heinen, Bob May, Lori Meier and Joe Pinero for a great trip.



by Lori Meier

Another awesome trip!

Ok. I have to start out by saying that my experience with this club has been fabulous. What a great group of people you all are!

Now for the trip. We all met at an easy to find Truck Stop off of Rt. 78, then took care of the car, boat and clothing situation. Bob Rancan provided me with tips and guidance on how to read the river. This was the fastest moving river I have ever been on, so I was a tad bid nervous. But I had 9 handsome men who I had great confidence would not let me croak in the chilly waters of the Musconetcong.

We started in Hampton and were soon joined by a Blue Heron who hung out with us for quite a while. There was a brief spotting of a muskrat, or something that looked like one along the way. Further down a stubby looking owl flew by. (I believe Bob said it was a Horn Rimmed Owl.) We passed many farms and old structures while negotiating those funky fishing weirs.

It was a beautiful day to be out on the water and I’m so glad that I didn’t chicken out! But I think it’s time to invest in a skirt and bring out the woolies!!


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